A member of the Ku Klux Klan during a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on July 8, 2017. .
(photo credit: ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP)
A dozen white marchers clashed briefly with counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday (August 12) during a rally planned by thousands of white nationalists. Dueling groups of protesters gathered near the statute of Confederate general Robert E. Lee.
Scuffles break out at white supremacy rally in Virginia (Reuters)
The 'Unite the Right' rally that was scheduled to start at midday, was planned in protest against the removal of Lee's statue from a public park.
The rally also aimed to protest against Charlottesville's decision to rename downtown Lee Park, now called Emancipation Park, besides the statue removal.
Fighting broke out in the city's downtown before noon when hundreds of people, some wearing white nationalist symbols and carrying Confederate battle flags, were confronted by a nearly equal number of counter-protesters. The clashes began the previous evening, resulting in at least one arrest.
Soon after the melee erupted, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency in the city, home of the University of Virginia's flagship campus. The gathering was declared an "unlawful assembly," allowing police to disperse the protesters.
Supporters call such statues racially insensitive, while opponents say Confederate symbols honor Southern heritage, and calls to remove them reflect "empty political correctness."