As U.S. Copes With Charlottesville Violence, Protesters Take To The Streets | KERA News

As U.S. Copes With Charlottesville Violence, Protesters Take To The Streets

Aug 13, 2017
Originally published on August 14, 2017 6:41 am

One day after deadly unrest roiled Charlottesville, Va., its effects have sent ripples through cities across the United States. Demonstrators from New York City to Seattle organized rallies Sunday to condemn the white nationalist groups that had descended on the Virginia city this weekend.

In all, activists say, more than 500 events were planned throughout the day — including a candlelight vigil in Florida, rallies in cities across western Michigan and South Carolina, and a march through Manhattan to Trump Tower.

"If the last 48 hours have shown us anything, it's that white supremacy is alive and well," Courtney Thomas told fellow protesters in Greenville, S.C., according to The Greenville News.

On the other side of the country, Seattle has seen a fraught confrontation among a conservative pro-Trump group called Patriot Prayer, a sizable group of counterprotesters and the riot police seeking to keep them peacefully separated.

"The West Coast has slowly been infected with communist ideologies throughout our entire culture. It is a belief that the individual is weak and that we are all victims. This is the lie of the century," Patriot Prayer wrote on the Facebook page for the event.

"These liberal strongholds run off of hatred and negativity," the group added. "Patriot Prayer will bring in a positive message to Seattle that the people are starving for."

Ed Ronco of member station KNKX said the pro-Trump demonstration "had been in the works even before the events in Charlottesville," adding, "but once that happened, hundreds of counterdemonstrators showed up at a different city park to march to the pro-Trump rally."

Organizers behind the counterprotest, known as Solidarity Against Hate, called the people behind Patriot Prayer "far-right extremists."

"When they come, they bring violence, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and Islamophobia (among other forms of bigotry) to our town," according to the group.

As counterprotesters began moving toward the park where the Patriot Prayer rally was being held, riot police sought to corral the crowd with pepper spray and devices known as "blast balls." In response, The Seattle Times notes, the officers were "pelted only with harsh language and silly string."

Eventually, both sets of protesters converged on the same park — but were separated by police.

"Anti-fascist protesters continue to shout down the pro-Trump speakers," the paper reported, "and more than once, someone from the crowd has jumped onto the stage to grab the microphone away."

No serious violence or injuries were immediately reported.

In New York City, anti-white nationalist protesters descended on Trump Tower, chanting, "no Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA."

The president has been criticized by some — including several members of his own party — for what critics say was a tepid response to the violence in Charlottesville, which left three people dead. In his initial statement, Trump condemned "in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides" without singling out the white supremacists who started the protests.

"People need to wake up, recognize that and resist it as fearlessly as it needs to be done," Carl Dix, leader of one of the groups organizing demonstrations in several cities including New York, told The Associated Press. "This can't be allowed to fester and to grow because we've seen what happened in the past when that was allowed."

The wire service reports that protesters have also planned candlelight vigils near the New Hampshire Statehouse in Concord and in Winter Haven, Fla., while "other demonstrations centered on Confederate statues on the state Capitol grounds in West Virginia and in Tampa, Florida."

Meanwhile, back in Charlottesville, the situation remains far from settled.

Jason Kessler, one of the principal organizers behind the calamitous "Unite the Right" rally, attempted to hold a news conference Sunday — only to be shouted down and shuffled away from the crowd within minutes.

And a vigil that had been scheduled to mourn Heather Heyer — the 32-year-old woman killed when a car allegedly driven by a white nationalist rammed a crowd of protesters Saturday — was canceled by organizers after they learned of a "credible threat."

"This event was designed to be a safe space for Charlottesville residents to gather, grieve, and support one another," the group said in a statement. But "a credible threat from white supremacists created a situation wherein we could no longer guarantee the safety of those who attended."

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