The Unite the Right weekend started with several hundred white supremacists marching in Charlottesville, Virginia through the campus of the University of Virginia on August 11. The march started at Nameless Field and ended at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.
When the march made it to the Memorial, the torch-wielding protesters were met by a smaller group of anti-fascists protesters who had locked arms around the statue. After some arguing a large brawl started. Tiki torches were used as clubs and pepper spray was deployed before police moved in.
As this was going on, St. Paul’s Memorial Church, across the street from the campus of the UVA, was having a community prayer service. The building was surrounded by volunteer security and the police were close by.
The rally was organized by Jason Kessler in response to the city of Charlottesville changing the name of Robert E. Lee Park to Emancipation Park, and for scheduling the dismantling of the Robert E. Lee monument located inside the park. The city revoked the permit for the rally, but Kessler and the ACLU won an injunction in federal court to have it reinstated.
The rally was scheduled to take place with several different white supremacist groups and would be one of the largest planned racist events in recent history. All of the groups that attended the event in Pikeville, Kentucky that I covered were represented plus members from other white supremacists groups.
There were clashes between white supremacists and counter-protesters before and after the Unite the Right rally that was scheduled on August 12. Protesters used their fists, pepper spray, and makeshift clubs to fight each other, and one Ku Klux Klan member fired a handgun toward a crowd on the edge of Emancipation Park.
The rally ended early when riot police pushed the white supremacist out of the park after they announced an unlawful assembly before the rally was scheduled to begin. The fighting spilled out onto the streets of Downtown Charlottesville for the afternoon.
After the Unite the Right Rally Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old woman from Charlottesville, was killed and 19 others were injured when white supremacist James Fields plowed his car into protesters marching through downtown.
A memorial was built at the intersection of Fourth Street and Water Street in downtown Charlottesville at the scene of the attack. Residents in the community and protesters paid respects and left flowers and notes throughout the day.
On the afternoon of August 12, Jason Kessler attempted to hold a public press conference outside of Charlottesville City Hall. After being drowned out by shouting, he was punched and tackled by protesters. He eventually made it to police who separated him from the crowd.
A vigil was organized for 6 p.m. at the site but was later canceled due to a credible safety threat. Even with the threat, hundreds of mourners gathered at the memorial that evening on August 12.