By Nanki Sekhon
During the month of August, multiple white supremacist rallies emerged in Charlottesville, Virginia. It all started on August 11 at the University of Virginia campus. Marchers were carrying tiki torches and were shouting “white lives matter” as well as the old Nazi slogan of “blood and soil.” One arrest was made and several others were injured after violence broke out.
White nationalist leader, Richard Spencer, pledged to return to the city of Charlottesville itself. In a fury, he declared the group was going to “make Charlottesville the center of the universe,” further stating, “We are going to come back here often. Your head’s going to spin how many times we’re going to be back down.”
The next day, as promised, another violent protest broke out. A “Unite the Right” crowd was more interested in combining all conservatives to riot against the removal of various confederate statues including the top general, Robert E. Lee. Similar actions have also been taken in New Orleans.
At this revolt, protesters were not fortunate since they were met with the same anger and passion from a group of liberals. As a result, the scene quickly escalated into a brutal clash and ended up killing 32 year-old Heather D. Heyer from a car plowing into the group of demonstrators. In total, at least 34 others have also been injured during these clashes.
James Alex Field Jr, the 20 year-old driver who murdered Heyer, was charged with numerous allegations counting second-degree murder. The judge also denied Fields bail from jail. His sentence is currently still being decided.
Derek Weimer, social studies teacher at Randall K. Cooper High School in Union, Kentucky, described Fields as having a “fondness” for Adolf Hitler. She explained that Fields “bought into this white supremacist thing” and that he was “very big into Nazism.” Samantha Bloom, his mother, was surprised to find out that Fields went to a white supremacist rally. Rarely speaking of politics together, she assumed it had something to do with Trump stating, “He had an African-American friend.”
The most shocking turn of events for many concerning the Charlottesville events was the President’s reaction. It took a few days after the rallies for Trump to tweet on the matter, claiming that he did not want to jump to any conclusions without all of the facts. Later he spoke, “Racism is evil,” adding that, “those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.” This earned him some points from the American population but deemed to have lost them the next day as well. Trump additionally reported, “You had a group on one side that was bad. You had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say that. I’ll say it right now.”
Overall, the attacks that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia remind us that racism is still prominent in this country and is not vanishing anytime soon. Former president Barack Obama tweeted on the event, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion…”