Only a handful of neo-Nazis gathered Sunday in front of the White House, under increased police surveillance and against hundreds of counter-protesters, a year after the deadly incidents in Charlottesville.
They had received permission for a procession of 400 people, but only about twenty white supremacists arrived in the afternoon at Lafayette Square, having walked from a metro station in central Washington.
Among them was event organizer Jason Kessler, who was already behind last year’s meeting in Charlottesville.
Protesters were greeted by at least 300 anti-racist activists who shouted “Shame on you” and “Leave my city”.
The city of Washington granted the informal organization “Unite the Right”, the origin of the Charlottesville rally in 2017, a slot from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm, but the group of protesters left the area in the vicinity.
To prevent any contact between protesters and counter-protesters, a large police force had been set up, with several roads closed to traffic.
After the far-right sympathizers left, the police used tear gas to disperse some of the “antifa” militants, who eventually left the scene.
“No to the Nazis”
“Antifa”, activists of the movement “Black Lives Matter” (against the violence against the blacks) or simple citizens came to express their rejection of the neo-Nazis, they were hundreds in the center of Washington Sunday.
Some had begun to assemble early in the afternoon, waving signs saying “No to the Nazis, no to the Ku Klux Klan, no to a fascist America.”
Some say that the best strategy is to ignore the white supremacists, that we give them too much attention. But, we really think that it would be a huge mistake to let fascists break the pavement in the capital of the country, without opposition,” said 22-year-old Kei Pritsker, a volunteer from the Anti-Racist group, Answer Coalition.
Another counter-protester, a black American who only gave his first name – Jim – said he felt that the United States was more racist under Donald Trump.
“It emboldened the white men. When they walk on the sidewalk, their position is “you better move in my path,” he told US Updates. “It was subtle, it is no longer, you take it in the face. It’s like Nazi Germany.”
Unite the Right had advised its supporters to bring back only American or Confederate flags, and not to respond “angrily” to “provocations”.
Firearms were banned at the scene of the event, even for people with permits.
After the rally, many right-wing Internet users laughed at Jason Kessler and questioned his legitimacy on the social network Gab, known as the “hard right” American right-wing.