Hundreds of people chanting “white lives matter” got into an altercation with Antifa counter-protesters at a rally Friday night in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Attendees of the “Unite the Right” rally were asked to carry lite torches them as they rallied throughout the streets and around the statue of Thomas Jefferson in the downtown area. Many of the activists, who some described as white supremacists, were seen giving Nazi-like salutes as they marched through the streets in the downtown area.
During one instance, a reporter caught large commotion when a fight appeared to break out within the group. Alex Rubinstein captured the video and posted it to Twitter, and claimed “chemicals” were dispersed after the fight. In it, the large group, most of who were armed with torches, could be heard screaming as police appear to run after a protester. Suddenly, additional commotion is heard along with loud “white lives matter” and “anti white” chants as some protesters throw their lit torches at others.
Rubinstein’s video shows police handcuffing a man and as others try to take control of the situation.
Watch a video of one of the fights below:
Rubeinstein said the crowd left shortly after the altercation.
The “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville is calling for a weekend full of white nationalist demonstrations and counterprotests in the home of the University of Virginia. As the New York Times noted, the college is currently out of session, and many of the protesters are from out of town.
The protests come after the city had proposed removing a Robert E. Lee sculpture from a city park.
On Friday evening, U.S. district Judge Glen Conrad said it was OK for the rally to take place in its original location after a preliminary injunction had been filed to move the rally to a bigger park for safety concerns.
Many of those protesting say the removal of the statue has caused great anger among supporters of the cause. The bronze sculpture was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997 and has resulted in many differing opinions.
“People are angry, they’re scared, they’re hurt, they’re confused,” Rev. Seth Wispelwey of the local United Church of Christ said to The Times. “White supremacists rallying in our town is an act of violence.”
In a statement to his official Facebook page, Charlottesville Mayor Mike Singer called the organized protest as being a “cowardly display of hatred, bigotry, racism and intolerance,” adding that he was “beyond disgusted” by the gathering.
Additional protests are slated to take place Saturday, and a large response from counter protesters is also expected. Because of that, the Virginia National Guard has been put on notice and has vowed to monitor the situation.