The controversial Unite the Right movement will hold another protest this weekend, a year after the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., left one dead and 35 injured when a car plowed through counter-protesters.
Counter-protesters are again expected to confront the white nationalists, this time in Washington, D.C. Last year’s events sparked debate across the country about the place for Confederate and other controversial monuments, including Philadelphia’s monument to former Mayor Frank Rizzo.
Here’s a look at what’s expected for this weekend’s events and a recap of what happened in the 2017 deadly rally and its repercussions nationwide, including in Philadelphia.
The 2018 protest
The event will be held in Lafayette Square in Washington on Sunday, Aug. 12. According to the rally’s website, protestors will assemble at the Vienna Metro Station in Virginia at 2 p.m. on the day of the rally. From there, they will take the train to D.C.’s Foggy Bottom Station and march to Lafayette Square, where a demonstration will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
In an interview with NPR, organizer Jason Kessler contended that white people are “not allowed” to have organizations catering to their specific interests.
“I’m not a white supremacist, I’m not even a white nationalist,” he said. “I consider myself a civil and human rights advocate focusing on the underrepresented caucasian demographic.”
Kessler also said neo-Nazis were “not welcome” at his rally.
According to Kessler’s permit application, about 400 people are projected to attend the march. However, this number doesn’t include law enforcement or expected counter-protesters.
>> READ MORE: Judge: App user not entitled to anonymity in rally case
Kessler initially wanted the rally to be held in Charlottesville but was denied a permit from the city, which cited its inability to protect protesters from violence, among other reasons. Kessler filed a lawsuit in response to the denial. A state of emergency has been declared in Charlottesville ahead of the anniversary.
BREAKING NEWS! Yesterday I filed a federal lawsuit against the #Charlottesville government for denying my August 12th, 2018 Unite the Right Anniversary Rally permit. Read all about it here:https://t.co/lBkAKtjUoD
— Jason Kessler (@TheMadDimension) March 7, 2018
The Unite the Right 2 website also provides a list of instructions on remaining peaceful, including a reminder that “antifa, the media and law enforcement know everything that [protesters] do.” Antifa is shorthand for anti-fascist, a label adopted by radical leftists who have also engaged in violent protests.
While the website instructs attendees to leave guns, shields and other weapons at home, it does encourages them to bring water, body cameras and American or Confederate flags.
Like one year ago in Charlottesville, counter-protesters will be present.
#StillHereStillStrong is calling on all who oppose white supremacy, fascism, anti-Semitism, and the many forms of structural racism that threaten our communities. Rally time from 12PM-3PM @ Freedom Plaza. #A12. https://t.co/UrtZBYUCJf pic.twitter.com/KL6c8q5EwS
— ShutItDownDC (@shutitdowndc) August 7, 2018
“Jason Kessler will find no rest, no refuge, no respite,” the call reads, “Communities in D.C. will unite against hate, borders, prison, and the vision of Unite the Right.”
Shut it Down DC is also encouraging individuals outside of the D.C. area to stage counter-protests in their local communities.
Earlier this month, Facebook controversially removed the counter-protest’s page on the social media giant, saying it violated a ban on “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”
In Charlottesville, the site of the original event, an organization is working to encourage citizens to stand with the counter-protestors.
The Charlottesville Albemarle Convention & Visitors Bureau launched a Joined in Strength campaign Wednesday to show “solidarity against racism,” spokesperson Adam Healey wrote in an email.
“It took strength for Charlottesville to stand up to hate,” Healey wrote. “And it will take strength for our brothers and sisters in D.C. to do the same.”
The Charlottesville violence
The 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville originated as a protest of the city’s planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, and was colored by white supremacist and white nationalist ideals.
Violence had already been bubbling up before a vehicle plowed through a group of counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer. People in attendance “chanted, threw punches, hurled water bottles and unleashed chemical sprays,” said a television news report from the event, describing the scene.
The chaos prompted then-governor Terry McAuliffe to declare a state of emergency and sent police in riot gear to order the rally’s dispersal.
Aftermath and repercussions in Philly
The violent protest’s aftermath sparked nationwide controversy surrounding neo-Nazism and modern white supremacy and nationalist organizations. The violence in Charlottesville prompted marches in Philadelphia and other cities to condemn racism, fascism and President Trump.
The ensuing debate also brought conflict over Confederate statues and memorials of leaders with questionable civil rights records, leading to some racially fueled clashes.
>> READ MORE: Was Frank Rizzo racist, or just a product of his time?
Many cities, including Philadelphia, decided to remove contentious memorials.
In November, in response to dissenting Philadelphians, Mayor Kenney authorized the removal of a statue of former mayor and police commissioner Frank Rizzo. Rizzo’s critics say he oppressed black citizens and played into whites’ racial fears during the 1960s and 1970s.
The statue, however, will not be removed from Thomas Paine Plaza for a few more years, as the city develops plans to find a new location for the statue and rework the plaza.
>> READ MORE: The moments that made Frank Rizzo Philly-famous
Meanwhile, a mural of Rizzo in the Italian Market has been vandalized and Mural Arts Philadelphia sought feedback on what should happen with the artwork. Officials said this week that the mural would stay up, though private funding is being sought to pay for future costs.