Why Charlottesville Is Newest Flash Point in Alt-Right Wars
Virginia city's plans to remove Robert E. Lee statue causes a ruckus
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted May 15, 2017 11:45 AM CDT
People in support of the removal of Confederate monuments hold candles during a counter-protest Sunday in Charlottesville, Va.   (Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress via AP)
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(Newser) – The latest alt-right flash point is in Charlottesville, Va., with protests and counter-protests over plans to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a city park. Things got heated over the weekend when white nationalist Richard Spencer led marches, including a nighttime one complete with burning torches, to keep the statue in place. Related coverage:

  • Counter-protest: The pro-statue marches took place Saturday, and counter-protesters converged on Lee Park on Sunday night, reports the Daily Progress. Alt-right blogger Jason Kessler of Charlottesville was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, while a protester was charged with spitting on Kessler and another with assaulting a police officer.
  • Kessler is out with a video explaining his side of the alt-right protests here. The city's mayor, meanwhile, has forcefully condemned them as racist and likened them to the KKK tactic of trying to instill fear.
  • Key quote: "What brings us together is that we are white, we are a people, we will not be replaced!" Spencer told supporters at an afternoon march, with the event broadcast on Periscope.

  • What's this about? After the city decided to remove the statue of Lee, opposition groups sued, arguing in part that Lee is an integral part of Southern history. A judge temporarily blocked the city's move earlier this month, and a hearing is set for June. Another statue in another park, that of Gen. Stonewall Jackson, also may go. All this hinges on whether the statues are protected under Virginia's monuments law. A report at CBS19 has the background.
  • Spencer: Charlottesville is home to the University of Virginia, and Spencer is a 2001 graduate, so this is familiar turf for him. But a lengthy profile in the Atlantic goes back even further: It's written by a former high-school classmate and traces his evolution into "our generation's most prominent white supremacist."
  • Video profile: The Atlantic also has an 11-minute video profile of Spencer here.
  • Governor's race: The statue is factoring in the state's gubernatorial race this year. GOP candidate Corey Stewart, who chaired Donald Trump's state campaign until he was fired, has made it a "rallying cry" and called its possible removal "historical vandalism," reports the Washington Post. He declined to comment on the new alt-right marches, but other candidates in the race condemned them, notes the Daily Progress.
  • Elsewhere: Similar controversies are playing out in other cities across the South, notes NPR, most notably in New Orleans.

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