Local groups and residents are expressing outrage at participants in a pro-Confederacy protest in Charlottesville, Va., after the event turned violent and left three dead Saturday.
“I do not like what happened in Charlottesville,” said Steve Love, president of the Western York County branch of the NAACP. “I think President (Trump) and his staff should call it for what it is, white supremacy, and take a stand on it.”
I think the president and his staff should call it for what it is, white supremacy, and take a stand on it.
Steve Love, president of the Western York County NAACP branch.
Three people have died — including two Virginia State Police troopers after their helicopter crashed while hovering over the scene — and 35 were injured after a series of protests organized by a group of people opposed to the planned removal of a statue of Confederate icon Gen. Robert E. Lee from a public area that had been renamed “Emancipation Park.” The group appeared to include dozens of apparent white supremacists and neo-Nazis holding up swastikas and chanting slogans including “no Jews!,” according to McClatchy reports.
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Counter demonstrators also protested and eventually the two groups clashed violently in the park, which was ringed by local police.
The protests began Friday night as torch-wielding demonstrators gathered at the University of Virginia. By Saturday morning, the protests had turned violent, as counter demonstrators turned out in force. The pro-Confederacy crowd included people wearing Ku Klux Klan imagery and former KKK leader David Duke was among the white nationalists, or so-called “Alt Right” demonstrators protesting the statue’s removal.
President Donald Trump posted to Twitter following the attacks, writing: “We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Let’s come together as one!” He later added, “Am in Bedminster for meetings & press conference on V.A. & all that we have done, and are doing, to make it better-but Charlottesville sad!”
In later remarks to the press, Trump said he condemned “this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides. On many sides,” McClatchy reports.
Love said the president’s response wasn’t enough.
“Those are the people that actually support him and instead of him taking a stand against the wrong they did ... he didn’t say what it was and who it was and why it shouldn’t have happened,” Love said. “He didn’t do or say enough.”
‘Both sides at fault.’
Kirk Carter, commander of the Clover group of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, said he believes both sides and Charlottesville’s leadership were at fault.
“I think both the protestors and the counter protestors were at fault as in any protest,” he said. “If anyone is to blame, it is the City of Charlottesville for not handling it correctly.”
Tega Cay resident John Kralijevich, who graduated from the University of Virginia, said the divisiveness shown in the protests is not the Charlottesville he knows.
“Charlottesville is a dynamic, inclusive place,” Kralijevich wrote on Facebook. “UVA is the first place I learned in a meaningful way about African-American history or the African-American experience. Charlottesville is blessed, but it also bears the troublesome psychic scars of every Southern city.”
Kralijevich, who invited The Herald to excerpt his post, said the statue of Robert E. Lee, which was placed near UVA, is not a representation of Charlottesville heritage.
“Lee was nothing more in 1924 than the godly face of a movement to celebrate white supremacy and establish Charlottesville as a place where the Lost Cause of the antebellum South was more powerful than an inclusive present or future,” he wrote. “There is a lot of Civil War history in Virginia. This Lee statue has pretty much nothing to do with any of that.”
Carter said though he does not agree with the views presented by either group of protestors, he does support their First Amendment right to air their views.
“I don’t support their views and what they stand for — none of them,” he said. “I support America. The only thing I agree with, being a proud Southerner, is that we should be proud of our history. It should not be eliminated.”
The only thing I agree with, being a proud Southerner, is that we should be proud of our history. It should not be eliminated.
Kirk Carter, commander of the Clover chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans
In an interview Sunday, Kralijevich said he is sad to see what has happened in the place he spent four years and received his college education.
“It’s awful to see the place where I walked to get my diploma taken over by torch-wielding Nazis,” he said. “It is heart-wrenching to see violence committed for a bankrupt ideology on streets that set the stage for your idealistic youth.”
Love said he hopes for better moving forward.
“I pray for America that we need to come together as one and move forward in peace and unity,” he said.
Amanda Harris: 803-329-4082