Several hundred white supremacists and neo nazis marched through the University of Virginia campus Friday night (Aug. 11). Carrying torches, they were chanting slogans like “You will not replace us!” “White lives matter!” and “Jews will not replace us!”
The march began around 9:30 p.m. and was made up almost entirely of men in their ’20s and ’30s, although some looked as young as teenagers, reports The Washington Post.
Marching hastily around a statue of Thomas Jefferson, the protest lasted around 20 minutes before a short brawl broke out involving a number of counter protesters. Watchful police officers broke up the fight disbanding crowds, while some stayed behind to get medical assistance for a chemical spray that deployed amid the scuffle. It is unclear if anyone was taken into custody.
This group of white nationalists marched ahead of the Unite the Right protest, according to WP, a gathering of groups from around the country whose members have said they are being persecuted for being white and that white history in America is being erased.
Scheduled for Saturday (Aug. 12) the march is being held at noon at the Emancipation Park (formerly Lee Park), home to the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee that the city of Charlottesville has voted to remove earlier this year.
With city leaders and residents alike in fear of the prospect of violence at today’s event, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe was prompted to place National Guard members on standby, encouraging Virginians to stay away from Saturday’s protest gathering.