White Supremacist and “alt-right” leader Richard Spencer led a crowd carrying torches, yelling “Russia is our friend” and “You will not replace us,” through the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia. All to protest the removal of a controversial statue of pro-slavery Civil War General Robert E. Lee.
There were dozens of them at the park where the monument rests at 9 pm on Saturday. Only ten minutes into the protest, however, police were called in because of an altercation among the marchers, which forced the demonstrators to fan out.
Many could not help but notice the similarity of this latest gathering to those of the Ku Klux Klan.
“[The event] was either profoundly ignorant or was designed to instill fear in our minority populations in a way that hearkens back to the days of the KKK,” said Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer.
“Either way, as mayor of this city, I want everyone to know this: we reject this intimidation. We are a welcoming city, but such intolerance is not welcome here.”
The latest controversy surrounding the monument started in April when the Charlottesville City Council voted 3-2 to remove and sell off the monument. The debate over what to do with the statue had been going on for a year, drawing the ire of alt-right leaders such as Spencer.
Spencer, 39, has been credited with starting the alt-right movement and has even been quoted by Nazi propaganda. He’s been in the Virginia town leading protesters and giving speeches.
Those who want to see the statue removed will have to wait at least six more months due to the fact that a judge issued an order halting the removal.
The removal of Civil War monuments is not the only stir that has been caused lately. There is also dissent over the council’s decision to rename some parks that are named after Robert E. Lee and Thomas Jackson, who was another Confederate Civil War general. There are no injunctions set against that particular decision.