Neo-Nazis, white nationalists, and other members of the alt-right clashed with counter-protesters Friday night at the University of Virginia ahead of what the Southern Poverty Law Center says could be the "largest hate-gathering of its kind in decades in the United States," CNN reports. Images from Charlottesville, Virginia, show marchers throwing Nazi salutes, carrying tiki torches, and chanting "you will not replace us" and "blood and soil." According to the Daily Progress, fights broke out between the white nationalists and counter-protesters, and both sides were reportedly hit by pepper spray fired by the police. One arrest was reported along with several minor injuries.
Virginia Rep. Don Beyer denounced the neo-Nazi marchers as "weak, ignorant, fearful people," and Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer called the march a "cowardly parade of hatred, bigotry, racism, and intolerance," NBC News reports. On Saturday, as many as 6,000 white nationalists and others are expected to arrive in Charlottesville for the "Unite the Right" rally. With officials worried about potential violence, Gov. Terry McAuliffe has put the National Guard on alert and more Virginia State Police are expected to be deployed than at any time in recent decades. The Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, and others have been protesting Charlottesville's pending decision to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee and rename two parks named after Confederate generals.