At the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12, 2017, white supremacists and counter-protesters met in what would become a deadly clash as a man drove his car through crowds of demonstrators, killing one person and injuring 19 others.
A year later, the rally is happening again.
The National Park Service has issued permits for the nationalist rally, along with counterprotests, to be held in Washington, D.C. this weekend, The Hill reports.
“Permits were issued this morning for Jason Kessler and ANSWER Coalition and will be posted on the National Park Service Freedom of Information Act website as soon as the FOIA officer has reviewed them and applied any necessary redactions,” said Mike Litters, the chief of communications for the National Park Service, in a release.The Hill
According to The Hill, two counterprotests have been cleared by the NPS as well, including “one organized by a coalition of 18 anti-fascist, anti-racist and feminist groups” and another for a rally “being organized by ANSWER coalition, a left-wing group.”
President Trump received strong criticism last year after showing reluctance to blame the alt-right protesters for the rally’s violence, insisting that there was “blame on both sides” and “very fine people on both sides.” He also criticized the “alt-left” for their involvement, wrongly asserting that the counterprotesters had no permit for their gathering opposite the white nationalists.
A year later, with media figures continuing to stir the pot, racial tensions have not relaxed. Just this month, The New York Times drew sharp criticism for its hiring of Sarah Jeong, a feminist tech writer for The Verge, who had posted many racially-charged derogatory tweets aimed at whites. And on her Fox News program “The Ingraham Angle” on Wednesday night, Laura Ingraham lamented that “the America we know and love doesn’t exist anymore” due to “[m]assive demographic changes” brought about by “illegal and legal immigration.”
Anticipating a repeat of last year’s conflict, lodging broker Airbnb has warned that it would cancel the reservations and terminate the accounts of users in violation of their community rules requiring all members to be treated with respect and without bias, “regardless of their race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or age.”
As CNN has reported, both the Commonwealth of Virginia and the city of Charlottesville have declared states of emergency ahead of the anniversary of last year’s events, enabling a stronger law enforcement presence, including the National Guard, should unrest break out. In addition, over 700 Virginia State Police personnel are available for assignment if the need arises, Virginia State Police Colonel Gary T. Settle said, according to CNN.
Transit officials in D.C., meanwhile, had been considering providing at least three separate trains and a police escort for attendees of the rally this weekend in an effort to curb violence, but workers from the Amalgamated Transit Union objected, arguing that the plan would give special treatment to hate groups.
The DC chapter of ATU “is proud to provide transit to everyone for the many events we have in DC including the March of Life, the Women’s March, and Black Lives Matters,” union president Jackie Jetere said in a statement. “We draw the line at giving special accommodation to hate groups and hate speech. Especially considering that the courts granted Metro the ability to deny ads on buses and trains that are ‘issue-oriented,’ we find it hypocritical for Mr. Wiedefeld [the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s CEO] to make these unprecedented special accommodations for a hate group.”Business Insider
Why It Matters
The ability to peacefully assemble is a cornerstone our republic. That is why the Constitution protects it. This weekend’s rally, then, will be a test of America’s commitment to her very founding principles.
That precautions are being taken to prevent a rehash of last year’s tragedy is commendable, but it’s sad that they would be thought necessary in the first place. As a very wise contributor to this site posited yesterday, we need more civil disagreement in this country, and less Pepe the Frog vs. Antifa.