Far-right monitoring groups estimate between 500 and 1,000 people will head to Charlottesville to hear from ‘alt-right’ ideologues such as Richard Spencer
A white nationalist rally, which some have predicted could be the largest in the US in years, is expected to descend on Saturday on Charlottesville, Virginia, and be met by counter-protests.
Far-right monitoring groups estimate that between 500 and 1,000 people and 30 speakers and groups will descend on the downtown area for the afternoon event, organised by the local rightwing activist and former Daily Caller writer Jason Kessler.
Those attending the Unite the Right event will hear speeches from leading “alt-right” ideologues including Richard Spencer, the podcaster Mike Peinovich, AKA “Mike Enoch”, and Matthew Heimbach, leader of the Traditionalist Workers party.
There was a confrontation late Friday ahead of the main rally when protesters and a smaller group of counter protesters came together on the University of Virginia campus. When the marchers reached and surrounded the counter-protesters there was a short verbal confrontation. Counter-protesters said they were then attacked with swung torches, pepper spray and lighter fluid.
Speaking earlier, Spencer Sunshine, who wrote a report for Political Research Associates assessing Saturday’s rally, said: “This is a national gathering that the far right have been planning for months. It’s their big event.”
He said far from being a broad slice of the right as planned, with the reluctance of some “patriot movement” groups to attend, and the commitment of groups such as the National Socialist Movement to the event, “it’s become increasingly Nazified over the last few weeks”.
In response, local demonstrators and anti-racist activists from all over the country are coordinating a counter-protest, which they are hoping will dwarf the far-right event.
One group, Congregate Charlottesville, has called for 1,000 faith leaders, and “white clergy, especially”, to assemble for a nonviolent protest. Among those who have responded is the intellectual and activist Cornel West, who led a prayer vigil on Friday night, ahead of the rally.
Another group, SolidarityCville, issued a call in late July to “all anti-racists” to come to Charlottesville to oppose the event,…