Friday, 17 August, 2018

Trump condemns racism and violence ahead of anniversary of fatal Charlottesville rally

Rabbi Bruce Lustig of Washington Hebrew Congregation is surrounded by clergy of multiple faiths as he helps launch a weekend of counterprotests against white supremacist marchers in Washington D.C. Aug. 10 2018 Businesses say they'll refuse service to Unite the Right attendees in DC
Ellis Copeland | 12 August, 2018, 20:08

A day after tensions between police and community activists almost boiled over on the University of Virginia's campus, the city of Charlottesville plans to mark Sunday's anniversary of a deadly gathering of white supremacists with a rally against racial hatred.

A student rally has been planned this weekend in Charlottesville to reclaim the campus square where the white supremacists marched previous year wielding tiki torches.

But residents of Charlottesville are still shaken and on guard.

The nation's capital is gearing up for a self-described white civil rights rally. States of emergency were declared Wednesday for the Commonwealth of Virginia and Charlottesville. Heyer's mother, Susan Bro, started a foundation in her honor, which has given out scholarships and grants to a diverse group of young Americans working against hate.

Hundreds of students and left-wing activists took to the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, as a rally to mark the anniversary of last year's white nationalist gathering turned largely into an anti-police protest.

A memorial to Heather Heyer - who was killed at last year's Charlottesville rally by a driver facing murder and hate crime charges - stands at the site of her death.

"We must come together as a nation", Trump wrote on Twitter from his golf club in New Jersey. But, he added, "The state police is fully prepared to act on any inciteful violence".

"Peace to ALL Americans!" he tweeted.

An independent investigation of last year's rally violence found the chaos stemmed from a passive response by law enforcement and poor preparation and coordination between state and city police. The legal battle over whether the town can remove statues of Confederate generals from two local parks is still ongoing.

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Charlottesville is bracing for what may come this weekend on the first anniversary of the deadly rally.

It was a departure from his comments a year ago in which he said "very fine people" were among the white supremacists in Charlottesville, prompting a political firestorm that lasted for days and culminated in an infamous press conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in NY.

President Donald Trump won't be there, though. A group of clergy who organize against racism will hold a service of remembrance at the city's First Presbyterian Church on Saturday afternoon.

Sunday's protest comes as the alt-right - a loosely knit coalition of white nationalist, white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups - faces fractures and infighting.

Stern and other state, county and city officials said to expect large numbers of law enforcement officers in and around Charlottesville as part of a large-scale, multiagency safety and security plan to head off violence.

Some city officials have strongly pushed back against the premise of the event but have allowed it to move forward due to concerns about free speech. Kessler said on Thursday that he would be in Washington on Saturday, as well, and that he did not know of any plans for other events in Charlottesville.

Counter-protests: There are several counter-demonstrations planned.

Ryan recalled how a group of students and community members faced off against the white supremacists near a statue of Thomas Jefferson on campus, calling it a "remarkable moment of courage and bravery".

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