White nationalists outnumbered by counter-protesters at White House rally

White nationalists outnumbered by counter-protesters at White House rally

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A white nationalist rally in Washington marking the one-year anniversary of racially charged violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, drew a few dozen demonstrators and thousands of counter-protesters.

A large police presence kept the two sides separated in Lafayette Square in front of the White House, although President Donald Trump was not at home.

Around 20 far-right members of Unite The Right, some wearing “Make America Great Again” hats and draped in US flags, travelled from Virginia to attend the rally on Sunday under heavy police escort.

The number was far short of the hundreds that principle organiser Jason Kessler was expecting, based on his event permit application. Mr Kessler blamed the low turnout on confusion over transport and harassment.

Addressing his supporters at the rally, Mr Kessler claimed it was in the name of free speech.

He said: “I’m doing white rights. I explicitly want to stand up for white people. I’m not backing down on that. I do think that there is enormous social stigma that is keeping us from having same rights as other people.”

Thousands of counter-demonstrators showed up to jeer and shout insults at the Unite The Right rally, with some chanting “Nazis go home!” and “shame!”

Makia Green, who represents the Washington branch of Black Lives Matter, told the crowd of counter-protesters: “We know from experience that ignoring white nationalism doesn’t work.”

The Unite The Right rally and march ended earlier than planned at around 5pm when it began to rain and two police vans took the demonstrators back to Virginia.

Meanwhile, officers used pepper spray to target a group of black-clad anti-fascists who scuffled with police, but the day appeared to end without major incident.

Police said one person had been arrested.

Last year, white supremacists marched through Charlottesville in two days of chaos that culminated with a man driving a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 people.

Charlottesville police faced massive criticism for their response and their failure to keep demonstrators and counter-protesters apart.

On Sunday in Charlottesville, Susan Bro, the mother of Ms Heyer who was killed last year, said: “There’s so much healing to do. We have a huge racial problem in our city and in our country. We have got to fix this, or we’ll be right back here in no time.”

(c) Sky News 2018: White nationalists outnumbered by counter-protesters at White House rally