Over the weekend, a group of white supremacists organized a rally to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia. Many of them traveled from out of state, bearing tiki torches for some reason, and some ended up marching while waving the Confederate flag, KKK, and Nazi symbols.
On Saturday, a man named James Andrew Fields Jr. allegedly drove his car into a crowd of peaceful counter-protestors, killing a woman named Heather Heyer, and injuring 19 others. According to CNN, the suspect is currently being held in custody in Virginia in connection with the crash.
Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency and during a press conference directed a message to rally attendees, saying that "all the white supremacists and the Nazis who came into Charlottesville today: Go home. You are not wanted in this great commonwealth.”
The organizers of the rally include a man named Jason Kessler. Kessler has been trying to frame the rally as a testament to free speech, but since someone was actually killed, that's not really flying for a lot of people. There may be lots of people in Charlottesville who love the statue of Lee, but there are also a whole lot of people who are really upset that Kessler brought this ugliness to their town. As he approached the podium for a press conference at the scene, the crowd chanted "shame" and yelled that he should be indicted for murder.
And, well, you can see what happens next:
For a lot of people, watching him run for his life through a bush is pretty satisfying, especially that part where he gets tackled by a woman in sunglasses. Viewers at home agree:
See how quickly these cowards run. As soon as he realized white folks were tired of his shit too he panicked. We need more of all of this.— crazeed (@jujueve2004) August 13, 2017
Gotta watch this again. He was getting beat down all the while running and ducking. I don't condone violence but this is funny— ChiTown ♌️Lioness (@Activist777mg) August 13, 2017
I'm glad he was afraid for his life. Now he has a fraction of the knowledge of what it's like 2 be on the receiving end of his Gestapo squad— Tom Zawacki (@tomszawacki) August 13, 2017
Apparently, before he got run out of dodge, Kessler was trying to say the real violence came from the counter-protestors who were hit by a car, while also implicating the police.
“Today I just want to come before you, and I want to tell you the story of what really happened before this narrative is allowed to continue spinning out of control,” Kessler said. “The hate that you hear around you? That is the anti-white hate that fueled what happened yesterday. What happened yesterday was the result of Charlottesville police officers refusing to do their job.”
Hmm, wonder if that's why they seemingly let him get roughed up for a while before stepping in.
It is worth acknowledging that police officers were reportedly hard to find during the rally, and many suspect it was initially because the people gathering there were white. Donald Trump eventually addressed the conflict, but attributed the violence to "both sides," earning him condemnation from even members of his own party. At least one protestor told The Washington Post that Trump's election actually "emboldened" him to express his racism for publicly. Anyone looking to Trump for condemnation is going to be waiting a long time. These white supremacists are his supporters, and he knows it. Let's run them out of town.