Demonstrators march in Charlottesville on anniversary of deadly 2017 rally
A group of anti-fascist activists are rallying peacefully in downtown Charlottesville, a year to the day after last summer’s white supremacist violence struck the city.
A few dozen black-clad demonstrators marched through downtown Saturday afternoon, stopping to pause for a moment of silence at the site where a woman protesting a white nationalist rally was killed last August.
Some in the group scrawled messages in chalk at the site that hosts a makeshift memorial to Heather Heyer, who was killed when a man drove his car into a crowd of people protesting the white supremacist demonstrators. Several police officers watched from a distance. Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, was in attendance at this year’s memorial event.
The group then continued marching, with some members carrying a sign that read, “Good night white pride.”
WATCH: Security increased in Charlottesville for anniversary of Unite the Right rally
As the activists made their way wordlessly through a downtown pedestrian mall, people sitting outdoors at cafes began singing “This Little Light of Mine.”
The demonstrators were met by heavy security, at times outnumbered by police. Around 10 a.m. Saturday, when many shops were beginning to open, law enforcement officers outnumbered visitors in the popular downtown shopping district. Concrete barriers and metal fences had been erected, and police were searching bags at two checkpoints where people could enter or leave.
Lara Mitchell, a sales associate at Ten Thousand Villages, a shop that sells artwork, jewelry, and other items, said the security seemed “a little bit over the top.”
But she added she doesn’t fault authorities for taking such strict measures, saying, “It’s nice that they’re here to protect us.”
U.S. President Donald Trump said he condemns “all types of racism and acts of violence” as he marked the one-year anniversary of 2017’s deadly clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia.
It was a dramatic shift in tone from last year, when he said there was “blame on both sides” for the violence that broke out when white nationalists descended on Charlottesville to protest the removal of Confederate statutes and marched through town shouting racist slurs. Trump said then the group included “fine people.”
In Saturday’s tweet, Trump said the “riots in Charlottesville a year ago resulted in senseless death and division.”
He added that, “We must come together as a nation. I condemn all types of racism and acts of violence. Peace to ALL Americans!”
Coverage of Charlottesville on Globalnews.ca:
The president of the University of Virginia has offered an apology to the students and community members who faced off a year ago against white supremacists during a march through campus.
UVA President James Ryan spoke to a crowd gathered Saturday morning for a service of reflection on the anniversary of the march. He said that those who stood up against the racists showed remarkable “courage and bravery” and that the university must admit its mistakes.
Critics have said the university was unprepared and didn’t do enough to intervene during the clashes, which left several people injured.
Specifically addressing those who were attacked during the march, Ryan said, “I am sorry. We are sorry.”
The service also featured musical performances, a poetry reading and a moment of silence.
© 2018 The Canadian Press