Dozens of white nationalists spread in two parks on Saturday while singing Nazi slogans and waving torches protesting the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Led by Richard Spencer, protestors met in Jackson Park at noon and gathered again the same night in the city’s Lee Park. Protestors held their torches and stood up around the statue of Lee which is scheduled for removal; a decision made by the city council.
The protesters sang “You will not replace us,” “Russia is our friend,” “All white lives matter” along with the Nazi slogan “Blood and soil.”
The mayor of Charlottesville, Mike Signer, strongly disagreed with the protest and attacking Spencer on Twitter.
“This event involving torches at night in Lee Park 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,” Signer said. “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 congressman of Virginia, Tom Perriello, criticized the protests and described them as acts of hatred originated by the election of President Donald Trump.
“As much as we all wish this was an isolated incident, it’s not,” Perriello stated.
“Emboldened by President Trump, this racism is spreading in our communities, our Commonwealth, and our country. After Trump’s election, many of these racist leaders were given a platform and vindication. They want us to regress by decades.”
On the other hand, Spencer who is an alt-right defended the protests saying that it is a way of celebrating his heritage.
“You are not going to tear down the statue, and you are not going to replace us,” he said.
“It’s an expression of force. It’s an expression of occupying a space,” Spencer tweeted.