Torch-wielding group protests Confederate statue removal

Xavier Trudeau
Mai 15, 2017

White supremacists wielding torches surrounded the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday night.


Self-proclaimed white nationalist Richard Spencer led a large group carrying torches and chanting "You will not replace us" Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia, protesting plans to remove a Confederate monument that has played an outsize role in this year's race for Virginia governor.

"What brings us together is that we are white, we are a people, we will not be replaced", he reportedly said at the rally that took place in the town where he once attended the University of Virginia.

This event involving torches at night in Lee Park was either profoundly ignorant or was created to instill fear in our minority populations in a way that hearkens back to the days of the KKK. The group that gathered downtown on Saturday night chanted phrases such as "You will not replace us".

Mayor Mike Signer called the protest either "profoundly ignorant" in a statement. 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.

"As much as we all wish this was an isolated incident, it's not", he said in an email to supporters. "We are a Welcoming City, but such intolerance is not welcome here", the mayor said.

During a conference he hosted in November, Spencer famously yelled "Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!" to enthusiastic Nazi salutes from the crowd.

Erich Reimer, chairman of the Charlottesville Republican Party, said in a statement that the "intolerance and hatred" that the protesters are seeking to promote is "utterly disgusting and disturbing beyond words", The Daily Progress reported. A court injunction has halted the removal for six months.

"We soundly and completely reject racism, white supremacy, and any other identity based groups that preach division and hate no matter which side of the issue they happen to support", the post read.

Stewart has said that his defense of the Confederate symbols is not meant to promote symbols of hate, but to battle "political correctness" and "historical vandalism".

In New Orleans, workers on Thursday removed a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, the second of four monuments to Confederate era figures the city has voted to remove.

The city also announced it was considering renaming Lee and Jackson Parks, which both commemorate Confederate war generals.

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