There was a lot of news over the weekend, most of it pertaining to race-relations coming off the one year anniversary of the original white nationalist march in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. To mark the anniversary, a rally was planned for 2018 to happen inside Washington, DC, but the event was rather mild and did not attract the violence and attention of last year. In fact, according to accounts, the amount of counter-protesters far outnumbered the small number of white nationalists who showed up.
The original permit for the “United the Right 2” rally said there could be as many as 400 people. In the end, there wasn’t more than a couple dozen:
Approximately two dozen white nationalists rallied in the nation’s capital on Sunday, one year after clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, left one person dead and elevated racial tensions in America.
But they were vastly outnumbered by throngs of counterprotesters.
The showing from “Unite the Right 2” participants fell far short of the hundreds that organizer Jason Kessler was expecting, based on his event permit application.
Kessler, who organized last year’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, blamed the low turnout on logistical issues and confusion regarding the group’s transportation — a claim echoed by at least two men who spoke to reporters. “People are scared to come out after what happened last year,” one of the men added.
A small stage and speaker system was set up in the park, where attendees stood silently and listened to a slate of impromptu speakers.
They addressed the small group over the jeers of the anti-racist demonstrators, who chanted, “Nazis go home!” and “Shame! Shame! Shame!”
Contrast the actual events on Sunday with the media hype last week leading up to the event and you can understand why racial tensions were high entering this weekend. If it wasn’t for the out of proportion media coverage, you wouldn’t even know that 24 white nationalists showed up at a park in the middle of DC.
As NBC News reports, the event in DC was disorganized from the start:
The entire event appeared haphazard, disorganized and did not carry a clear message. First it began well before the intended 5 p.m. ET start time, then organizers decided to depart early when it started to rain across the nation’s capital.
“We won!” shouted Shanie Yates, 36, who traveled from Virginia and was determined to attend this year’s protest after watching what unfolded in Charlottesville a year ago. “That hit home for me — and I wanted to show strength in numbers. Look at all of us showing that we have love for one another, not hate.”
Thelmiah Lee, 67, said he was also proud to see a diverse swath of people willing to stand out in the rain for as long as they had to.
“They shouldn’t have bothered showing up,” he said of the Unite the Right rally.
Rain tends to quell even the most ardent of political rallies and protests, which perhaps assisted authorities in keeping the peace on Sunday. The event deserved media coverage if not simply for the fact that the rally in 2017 resulted in the death of a counter-protester and, in a related accident, the deaths of two Virginia State Troopers in a helicopter crash. However, to see only two dozen people, at most, show up for this event means their numbers are minuscule and their influence is nonexistent.
The “Unite the Right 2” rally took place in DC, but what about Charlottesville? In the quiet Virginia college town, protesters turned out in droves with the intention to counteract any white nationalist presence, but there appeared to be none from news reports. Instead, the Charlottesville protest turned into a protest of law enforcement presence and equating police with the KKK:
Hundreds of students and left-wing activists took to the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, as a rally to mark the anniversary of last year’s white nationalist gathering turned largely into an anti-police protest.
With chants like, “Cops and Klan go hand in hand,” the protesters’ criticisms of both police and the University of Virginia underscored the resentment that still exists a year after torch-bearing neo-Nazis marched through campus, shouting anti-Semitic messages and beating counterprotesters.
Several students said they were angry that the police response was far larger this year compared with last year, when people carrying tiki torches the white nationalist rally went mostly unchecked.
At one point on Saturday, dozens of officers in riot gear formed a line near where the rally was taking place, prompting many protesters to rush over yelling, “Why are you in riot gear? We don’t see no riot here.”
All-in-all, the rallies and protests ended with no loss of life, which was the sad precedent set one year ago. The tense weekend came and went without great upheaval or violence which means it should be considered a success on the part of authorities and law enforcement in both DC and Charlottesville.
As always, given the nature of our business, we have to ask whether this affects the 2018 midterm, or perhaps the 2020 presidential election? Given that no real news came out of this weekend, such as any major violence, I don’t see these events shaping much in terms of election politics. President Trump, perhaps learning from his widely panned tweeting of last year, put out a preemptive tweet on Saturday condemning racism in all forms. Other than that, the weekend will be a footnote connected to the deadly rally last year which caused major outrage after the President failed to immediately condemn the white nationalists.