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White nationalists return to Charlottesville less than 2 months after violent clashes

Richard Spencer returned, with torches.

Dylan Matthews is a senior correspondent and head writer for Vox's Future Perfect section and has worked at Vox since 2014. He is particularly interested in global health and pandemic prevention, anti-poverty efforts, economic policy and theory, and conflicts about the right way to do philanthropy.

Less than two months after their “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, descended into racist violence that left one anti-racist protester dead, white nationalists and alt-right activists once again arrived in the city for a torch-lit, 10-minute demonstration at 7:30 pm on Saturday.

#BREAKING: A group of white nationalists is holding a torch lit rally at Emancipation Park in Downtown Charlottesville.

Publié par CBS19 News - Charlottesville Newsplex sur samedi 7 octobre 2017

The protest at Emancipation Park — previously “Lee Park,” which contains a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee that the city wants to remove but can’t pending legal action — included about 40 to 50 demonstrators, led by Richard Spencer, the white supremacist activist who takes credit for coining the term “alt-right.”

Spencer had previously spoken at the August event that ended in alt-right violence (whitewashed by President Trump after the fact as violence on “many sides”), and led a May 13 demonstration in the city against plans to remove the statue. In a Twitter video, Spencer described the Saturday night demonstration as "Charlottesville 3.0" in reference to the previous protests. “We came, we triggered, we left,” he declared in the video. “We demonstrated that we came in peace in May, we came in peace in July, we were badly mistreated, and we came in peace tonight.”

The mention of July presumably refers to a fourth pro-statue rally that a North Carolina branch of the Ku Klux Klan organized in Charlottesville that month. Spencer’s list of events pointedly left off the August rally in which a neo-Nazi killed a counterprotester and injured dozens of others; other white supremacists also encircled and attacked anti-racist demonstrators with torches and pepper spray that weekend.

CBS 19 recorded video of the protests showing demonstrators chanting, "You will not replace us," and, "We will be back.” “You will not replace us” was used in the May protest, and was repeated as “Jews will not replace us” in the August Unite the Right rally. (“Blood and soil,” a prominent Nazi slogan, was also chanted at those demonstrations.)

Charlottesville’s leaders — including Mayor Mike Signer, who has been targeted for anti-Semitic abuse by white nationalists, and Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy, who has faced racist invective — immediately condemned the event and threatened legal action against the demonstrators:

Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer @MikeSigner
Charlottesville Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy @DrWesBellamy
Wes Bellamy, vice mayor Wes Bellamy