Unite the Right: Charlottesville Anniversary Draws Neo-Nazis to Washington

Washington, D.C, and a nation wearied from fights between extremist groups, braced itself for the second Unite the Right rally on Sunday -- expected to attract as many as 400 white supremacists, and three times that many counter-protesters, in the shadow of the White House.

The rally, scheduled for Sunday evening -- the anniversary of the deadly gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia -- will take place in Lafayette Park and Freedom Plaza. Collectively, the areas can accommodate 2500 people, and by the end of Sunday authorities expect them to host both the white supremacists, and those affiliated with activist groups like Antifa and Black Lives Matter. Torches have been banned from the protests on both sides, and authorities are hoping to keep them separated.

On Saturday night, approximately 50 anti-fascist supporters walked through areas of downtown Charlottesville wearing headbands and dressed in black and toting a banner that read, "Good Night, White Pride," according to a USA Today report.

Parts of Northern Virginia and Charlottesville are under a state of emergency. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said the order was an "administrative tool" to prepare the Virginia National Guard and other security details for any riots in the city.

Two campaigns attempting to maintain the peace in the town where the riots originated are the newly-minted #joinedinstrength and Cville, a 1-year-old campaign represented by a teal-colored heart with the word "Cville" on it.

The town also memorialized Heather Heyer, changing the section of street where the activist died while protesting the neo-Nazi rally to Honorary Heather Heyer Way. It was adorned with chalk messages, flowers and other mementos.

Authorities allege that Heyer was killed when James Alex Fields, accused of being a neo-Nazi, ran down a group of counter-protestors with his Dodge Challenger while driving the vehicle in reverse. Fields currently faces two potential trials at the state and federal levels on charges of murder and assault. He was also charged with a federal hate crime.

fields charlottesville driver killer hate crime
The silver Dodge Charger allegedly driven by James Alex Fields passes near the Market Street Parking Garage moments after driving into a crowd of counter-protesters on Water Street on August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. Heather Heyer, 32 years old, was killed and 19 others injured when they were struck by Fields' car. Getty Images/Matthew Hatcher

The anniversary will happen amidst a lawsuit filed by Roberta Kaplan. Her firm is arguing that the violence which took place was carefully planned and violated the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871. Disappointment from the firm and the general public about the act, which prohibits planning to engage in violence against racial minorities or supporters of minorities, being used in 2018 has been internationally publicized.

In the meantime, white supremacists groups have recruited U.S. military veterans and service members to their campaign. Kessler, the organizer who obtained the permit for the Sunday protest, even asked BLM-NY President Hawk Newsome to join him. The "Unite the Rights" group has also begun to recruit the low-income, divorced, unemployed population that tends to lack a formal education.

"We were being hit with rocks, urine, water bottles with cement, tear gas, pepper spray, hammers, and the police stood there and watched," Newsome told Newsweek on Saturday, "it was almost as if they wanted the counterprotesters to be hurt. It was a miscarriage of justice."