Richard Spencer, an outspoken supporter of President Trump, hosted a post election conference in the nation’s capital last November that ended with audience members mimicking Nazi salutes after Spencer shouted, “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!” Spencer also has advocated for an “ethno-state” that would be a “safe space” for white people. He recently led a large group of demonstrators carrying Tiki torches in Charlottesville, VA. The movement was protesting plans to remove the Confederate monument that has played an outsized role in this year’s race for Virginia governor. Spencer was in Charlottesville to protest a City Council vote to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. A court injunction has halted the removal for six months.
“We will not be replaced from this world. Whites have a future. We have a future of power, of beauty, of expression,” Spencer said at an afternoon protest, the first of two rallies he led in the town where he once attended the University of Virginia.
At this rally, local television footage showed dozens of torch-bearing protesters gathered in a city park on a Saturday evening and chanting “You will not replace us” and “Russia is our friend.” Spencer was not shown addressing that gathering, but he tweeted a photo of himself standing in the crowd carrying what appeared to be a bamboo tiki torch.
“You will not replace us. You will not destroy us,” Spencer said at the earlier rally, which he broadcasted via Periscope video “You cannot destroy us. We have awoken. We are here. We are never going away.”
The following evening some of the townsmen responded with a counter-protest of their own. The evening was scattered with a few fist fights from the Richard Spencer white nationalist supporters and their opponents. The protest was a symbol of the resistance the protesters hung a banner on the statue of “Black Lives Matter, F**k white supremacy.” The most notable speakers included Charlottesville’s Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy, Sarah Silverstone, and Don Gathers who went on to say “You’re not going to drown us out, you’re not going to make us listen to you, there is no such thing as a supremacy, slavery is dead and we just need everyone to realize and recognize that.
The most troubling affirmation of this protest is that we as a country have not accepted as a collective that racism still very much exist and will not be going anywhere anytime soon. White supremacy has always been the motto since the first slave ship arrived in this country. Since the election of President Trump, it has become more apparent that we will be seeing more demonstrations and true beliefs revealed. Since the start of the resistance with Nat Turner to the Black Lives Matter Movement we’ve been fighting for equality and freedom. We as the next generation of civil rights activists must be prepared and more organized for more protests of this nature. Charlottesville’s Mayor Mike Signer said in a statement that Saturday’s protest was either “profoundly ignorant” or meant to instill fear in minorities “in a way that harkens back to the days of the KKK. I want everyone to know this: We reject this intimidation. We are a welcoming city, but such intolerance is not welcome here.”