Donald Trump Finally Breaks Silence After White Nationalist Charlottesville Rally
The protest caught residents of Charlottesville, Virginia, by surprise, even if the symbols used were instantaneously familiar to them. With no warning, roughly 40 white men clad in dress shirts and khakis lofted tiki torches into the night sky on Saturday night in front of the city’s covered statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee—the third such protest against the monument’s planned removal staged by white nationalists this year.
“We did not publicly announce this [third] Charlottesville event,” Richard Spencer, the chairman of the “alt-right” think tank National Policy Institute tells Newsweek of how the gathering caught residents of the city by surprise. “The people who got invitations had been vetted. This was a small, tightly controlled event, and it was, in a way, an attempt to build a new model” for protesting.
“We could come back with three or 10 times the number of people in the future,” Spencer adds.
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Spencer tells Newsweek that people can expect to see “lots” of pop-up rallies like this in the months that lie ahead, and categorizes them as something that can be “replicated by others” who are sympathetic to his distant dream of creating a white ethnostate. Meanwhile, counterprotesters in Charlottesville are becoming increasingly worried about the city’s ability to protect them from what they perceive to be active intimidation by white supremacists, and say they are already working hard to adapt to the new approach showcased by Spencer on Saturday night. Spencer’s latest rally comes two months after Heather Heyer was killed in August when a white man drove a car into counterprotesters at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.
“Individuals are becoming increasingly ready to mobilize,” Mimi Arbeit, an organizer with Showing Up for Racial Justice Charlottesville, tells Newsweek. “People who have never been part of organized leftist movements in their lives before want to contribute to what’s going on.”
Spencer was joined on Saturday by familiar faces like Mike Enoch, a prominent white nationalist speaker, and Eli Mosley, the Leader of Identity Evropa, a white nationalist organization that is working to recruit new members on college campuses like the University of Virginia, which is based in the city. The men chanted “You will not replace us,” a refrain that has been used at previous rallies (along with different, anti-Semitic variations of the same words), and sang an off-key rendition of “Dixie,” a ubiquitous 19th century anthem that emerged from the tradition of blackface minstrelsy. The white nationalists also chanted “We will be back!” during the rally, but Spencer denies having specific plans for another demonstration in Charlottesville—at least not at the moment.
Spencer first emerged in public consciousness for many Americans through a video captured shortly after the election of Donald Trump, and first published by The Atlantic, wherein he was seen speaking to an audience of supporters in Washington, D.C., saying, “Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!,” as some members of the crowd responded by giving a Nazi salute. Asked whether the creation of a white ethnostate in America would lead to an extreme display of violence against people of color, or an ethnic cleansing of nonwhites, Spencer says no, and denies any personal affinity for the ideology of Nazism.
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