Over 11-13 August, the university town of Charlottesville in the US saw a rally by white nationalists called 'Unite the Right', which turned violent.
The demonstrators were protesting the removal of a statue of Confederate Army general Robert E Lee from Charlottesville's Emancipation Park. The protests began at 10 pm on Friday, 11 August, with demonstrators holding tiki torches and chanting slogans like 'Jews will not replace us', 'Blood and Soil', 'White Lives Matter', making their way through the University of Virginia campus.
VICE News, tracking the developments in Charlottesville from the frontline, has now released a 16-minute video of the clashes, which left one dead and at least a dozen injured.
The VICE video begins with the demonstration mentioned above, before depicting a short interview between one of its organisers, Christopher Cantwell that took place at Charlottesville's McIntire Park earlier that afternoon. Cantwell — a bald, muscular man with a penchant for tight t-shirts and guns — identifies as a white nationalist and is a speaker for Unite the Right. He tells VICE News' Elle Reeve that for him, the Travyon Martin case was a turning point in realising the need for the alt right to put up a united front. "We need to get more organised...we need someone like Donald Trump, only a lot more (racist?)... who would not give his daughter to a Jew," he says.
The scene then shifts to Saturday, 10.30 am at Emancipation Park, where Unite the Right is expected to hold their rally. As Elle Reeve makes her way there with Cantwell and his group, one of their fellow passengers — Robert Ray (a somewhat grizzled Neo-Nazi who works as a writer for the Daily Stormer website) tells her, "We're starting to slowly unveil a little bit of our power level. You ain't seen nothin' yet."
On reaching Emancipation Park, however, it becomes clear that Unite the Right will not receive permission to proceed, and have to move out. As he exits the vicinity of the park, former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke tells VICE: "They don't want us to tell the truth about the ethnic cleansing of America."
A more sombre and chaotic scene unfolds on Saturday afternoon. At about 1.40 pm, near Emancipation Park, a car plows through demonstrators protesting the Unite the Right rally, holding up banners that say 'Black Lives Matter'. One woman is killed and several others injured, as the car drives right through a column of people, before backing up and speeding away from the scene. Medics and police rush in, and there are pedestrians lying on both sides of the road, moaning and screaming. (The driver of the car — James Alex Fields Jr, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and idolised Hilter and Nazism when in high school — was later apprehended by the police).
Later, at a meeting held to salute the victims of the Saturday afternoon attack, local activist Taneesha Hudson tells VICE: "All the chaos you've seen today has been brewing for a long time and I don't think it's ever been about the (removal of the Robert E Lee) statue. It's about right and wrong." Taneesha and other activists also express disappointment in US President Donald Trump's statement after the Charlottesville clash (he said “many sides” were to blame for the violence).
We also see what happens when a Unite the Right organiser, Jason Kessler, tries to address the press at the Charlottesville City Hall on Sunday afternoon. He is heckled by the crowd that then breaks through the cordon of camerapersons to roughly push Kessler away.
The most chilling segment of the VICE News video, however, comes at the very end when Elle Reeve interviews Christopher Cantwell once again. With his laptop open before him, Cantwell shows Reeves all the guns he's carrying (at least five) and a knife, before discussing how the rally went off, and the car attack. "Frankly," he says, "I think a lot more people are going to die before we're done here."
Watch the full video here:
Published Date: Aug 16, 2017 08:15 pm | Updated Date: Aug 16, 2017 08:15 pm