CHARLOTTESVILLE — White nationalists, including “alt-right” leader Richard Spencer, assembled once again at the foot of Charlottesville’s Robert E. Lee statue in Emancipation Park, armed with torches in what Spencer dubbed “Charlottesville 3.0.”
Spencer, Unite the Right rally organizer Jason Kessler, and members of white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups first gathered at the Lee statue on May 13. On Aug. 11, the day before the rally, another torch-bearing march concluded at the University of Virginia Rotunda. Spencer and Kessler are both graduates of U.Va., which celebrated its bicentennial on Friday.
At about 8 p.m. Saturday, about three dozen people chanted “we will be back,” according to NBC29. A reporter for the TV station said police maintained a presence at the park, which is closed to the public starting at 11 p.m.
“While we prefer protesters get permits like any other event,” city spokeswoman Miriam Dicker said in an email, “such assemblies are protected by the First Amendment and we do not interfere unless we perceive a legal or safety issue.”
In a video on Twitter, Spencer called the rally “Charlottesville 3.0” and deemed it a “great success” that should be repeated by others.
In a tweet, Mayor Mike Signer called the rally “another despicable visit by neo-Nazi cowards,” adding, “You’re not welcome here! Go home! Meantime we’re looking at all our legal options. Stay tuned.”
Local residents also took action upon learning about the rally, congregating at U.Va.’s Rotunda, where the Aug. 11 rally was held, as well as at the Islamic Society of Central Virginia and Congregation Beth Israel to check on the safety of the sites.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe said the state is “monitoring this situation as we continue to oppose these racists and their message of hate” in a tweet, but he did not elaborate.
Statues of Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson are currently concealed by black tarps.