On August 12, 2017, a protest was held in Charlottesville, Virginia to protest against the removal of the fallen Confederate icon, General Robert E Lee. The 'Unite the Right' rally, held by nationalists, was seen as one of the biggest rights movement in the recent history of the United States. It was organised by former journalist and a member of the Proud Boys, an ultra-nationalist group, Robert Kessler. During the protest, counter-demonstrators gathered and there were severe clashes between the two sides which led to a declaration of local state emergency by the city of Charlottesville and County of Albemarle.
20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. rammed a car into the counter-protestors killing one woman and injuring at least 19 others. Fields was charged with second-degree murder while Troy Dunigan who was 21 years old at the time was charged with disorderly conduct, Jacob Smith with misdemeanour assault and James O'Brien was charged with carrying a concealed weapon.
On the day of the incident, President Trump tweeted saying that there is no place for hate in the country. However, he changed his stance, condemning both the sides including the white supremacists and the anti-racist protestors. This change was rejoiced by the alt-right, the sect of white who are considered anti-muslims, anti-semitics, and white supremacists.
We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2017
One year after the incident, U.S. President Trump tweeted saying that he condemned all forms of violence since it was divisive and resulted in death.
The riots in Charlottesville a year ago resulted in senseless death and division. We must come together as a nation. I condemn all types of racism and acts of violence. Peace to ALL Americans!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 11, 2018
Nikuyah Walker was elected the mayor of Charlottesville shortly after the incident. on the show 'Face the Nation' on CBS News, she said, "We hear these stories about people who are just shocked at where you know where we are, and in our communities, in regards to racism. But even once the facts are presented, people really don't want to change their actions to help truly heal that."
She added that the residents of Charlottesville are unwilling to recognise the consequences of racism.
According to NPR, the white supremacists and the alt-right groups have disbanded. The organiser of the event, Kessler, is in legal trouble due to the neo-Nazi signs displayed during the protests and the basic aim of the protests. In an interview with NPR, he said, " "I'm not a white supremacist," he said, "I'm not even a white nationalist. I consider myself a civil and human rights advocate focusing on the underrepresented Caucasian demographic."
The clashes during the 'Unite the Right' rally held in Charlottesville resulted in the death of one woman, 32-year-old Heather Heyer, and two state troops.