White supremacists holding lighted torches marched Friday night through the University of Virginiai n Charlottesville ahead of Saturday’s far-right “Unite the Right” rally.
Chanting “white lives matter,” “you will not replace us,” and the Nazi-associated phrase “blood and soil,” some of the white nationalists engaged with counterprotesters and scuffles broke out.
Police arrived on campus, declared it an unlawful assembly, and ordered the crowds to disperse.
Teresa A. Sullivan, president of the University of Virginia, said in a statement Friday, “I am deeply saddened and disturbed by the hateful behavior displayed by torch-bearing protestors that marched on our Grounds this evening. I strongly condemn the unprovoked assault on members of our community, including University personnel who were attempting to maintain order.”
Sullivan added, “Law enforcement continues to investigate the incident, and it is my hope that any individuals responsible for criminal acts are held accountable. The violence displayed on Grounds is intolerable and is entirely inconsistent with the University’s values.”
Estimates have suggested that one thousand or some protesters may take part in the Saturday rally. Expectations were that counter protesters might turn out in larger numbers.
Citing the crowds expected and safety issues, the city ordered the rally moved to a larger park away from the city’s downtown. But Jason Kessler, the rally’s organizer, filed a lawsuit against the city that was supported by the Virginia ACLU, saying that his First Amendment rights would be violated by moving the rally. On Friday, a federal judge ruled that the rally should remain at Emancipation Park.