The first Unite the Right protest was held last year in Charlottesville, Virginia. Right-wing organizations and individuals along with some self-proclaimed neo-nazis, white-nationalists and paramilitary groups are gathering this weekend to protest once again.
The purpose of this year’s rally is the same as the last: to protest the civil rights abuses of these right-wing groups and individuals. Unite the Right has mentioned that last year’s protest was specifically centered around abuses they claim to have endured in Charlottesville, but this year’s rally is meant to protest mistreatment of right-wing groups and white people in general.
Hundred of supporters are supposed to attend this year’s rally; hundreds more are expected to show up to counterprotest the event.
Here’s what you need to know about Unite the Right 2:
1. This Year’s Unite the Right Rally is Going to be in Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C. Starting at 5:30pm on Sunday, August 12th
Law enforcement and contracted security forces met Thursday to discuss plans on how to best protect protestors and counter-protestors.
“The rules are simple. Don’t hurt anyone and don’t break anything or police will be forced to take action,” Police Chief Peter Newsham said in a press conference.
All permits to carry firearms are revoked during the protests. According to Newsham, it will be a gun-free zone.
During Thursday’s news conference, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said “there are people coming to our city just to spew hate,” but mentioned that she has a duty to protect the First Amendment.
2. Proud Boys, An Organization That Unite The Right’s Organizer Jason Kessler Used to be a Part of, Has Been Suspended on Twitter Leading up to The Rally
According to CBS News, Twitter accounts associated with a right-wing group called Proud Boys has been suspended leading up to the rally. This is a group that Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler used to be a member of.
Twitter was asked about the suspensions. A spokesperson confirmed the accounts have been suspended, saying the group violated company policy and that Twitter “prohibits violent extremist groups.”
Proud Boys attended last year’s rally in Charlottesville and plan to attend this year’s rally in D.C. According to Southern Poverty Law Center, Jason Kessler used to be a very involved member of the group.
This year’s rally was supposed to be in Charlottesville again but the city denied Kessler a permit. The rally was then moved to D.C.
3. Speakers of This Year’s Rally Could Include Former KKK Grand Wizard, David Duke
The Southern Poverty Law Center published leaked Facebook messages between Jason Kessler and some of his other organizers.
In those messages, Kessler provided a list of names for potential speakers for his second rally. Included in that list was former KKK Grand Wizard, David Duke. It is unclear whether or not Duke will be speaking at the rally, but in a Tweet sent out by Kessler (that has since been deleted) he claims that he’s not releasing the names because he doesn’t want the speakers to be harassed.
According to SPL, Kessler is promising a human rights activist from South Africa, an Iraq War veteran and various other activists hailing from the nation’s capital.
He is a white nationalist politician rooted in antisemitic conspiracy theorist beliefs. His reason for leaving the Klan was to found the National Association for the Advancement of White People.
4. Civil Rights Organizations, Including Black Lives Matter, Are Planning to Counter-Protest Unite the Right
Makia Green, a D.C.-based organizer for Black Lives Matter, told Kellan Howell of Newsy, that the organization is planning to counter-protest on Sunday. “Ignoring white supremacy allows it to grow,” Green said.
“As black and brown people, we have to be empowered to come against white supremacists, and then having allies there supporting us. It shows the kind of community that we want.”
Green says Black Lives Matter protestors will have deescaltors and medics. They’ve set up safe houses in case the rally gets chaotic. She feels that based upon experiences of past protests, the police are in place to escort and protect white nationalists instead of the D.C. community as a whole.
(Black Lives Matter protestors are meeting on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. on 16th Street NW — a block from Lafayette Square.)
5. Last Year’s Rally Was Extremely Violent, Despite a Promise of Peaceful Protest
Kessler has assured police that this year’s rally will be a peaceful one. The Unite the Right website asks those attending to bring confederate flags and bodycams but to leave weapons behind.
ALWAYS Be aware of your surroundings. Do not talk to the media. Do not engage in any fighting. ALWAYS be a good representative for our cause.
Don’t let strangers know where you’re staying. If you’re going to be in town on Saturday, August 11th please stay with trusted friends and don’t talk to strangers about your participation in the rally.
Last year, a group of about 100 white nationalists marched on the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville, VA, chanting Nazi slogans like “Sieg heil” and “blood and soil,” as they carried lit torches and gave Nazi salutes. According to the Washington Post, the group surrounded counter-protestors and sprayed them with pepper spray and chemicals.
“Unite the Right” rally was set to start the next day. At that rally, Kessler protested the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in a park in Charlottesville. As the day progressed, so did the violence. Counter protests continued to challenge the ideals of alt-right groups and one person was killed.
James Fields of Ohio was arrested after he drove his car into the crowd that day, injuring dozens and killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer. He was ultimately charged with second degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and for failing to stop.
In an interview with ABC News yesterday, Heyer’s mother Susan Bro stated that “if we don’t focus on fixing the issues that caused this in the first place, the racial divide in our country, then we’re going to be right back at Charlottesville in no time flat.”
She claims her daughter isn’t an icon. “The black community and the people of color in Charlottesville have been battling this for many years,” Bro told NPR.
“But a white girl dies and suddenly everybody goes, ‘Oh my God we’ve got a problem.'”
Jason Kessler has promised a non-violent rally, but he claims that “you can’t expect every protestor to be a rational or reasonable person.”
Many wonder what rights Kessler and his following are trying to protect. He claims that white people are going extinct and their history and culture is being erased.
If you’re interested in following a live stream of the event, you can watch it here starting tomorrow evening at 5:30 ET.