Counterprotesters overwhelm alt-right organizers a year after Charlottesville
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Fewer than 25 white nationalists who arrived Sunday afternoon to march, speak and stage their “Unite The Right 2” rally at Lafayette Square found themselves overwhelmed by thousands of counterprotesters from groups like Antifa and the Black Lives Matter movement, and finally left before the rally was scheduled to begin.
“I hope this shows the white nationalists that we are willing to fight back,” said Prince George’s County resident Larry Hutchison, 31, who was one of a number of participants with handmade signs. “We are not just going to remain silent.”
Christopher Young, 44, said his outfit was the perfect attire to wear for the “Unite The Right 2” rally’s counterprotest. Young, who was born and raised in the District, decided to wear a Colin Kaepernick football jersey because “this is what he stands for” he said.
“Solidarity and numbers brings me out here today,” said Young, “because honestly, I wasn’t going to come. But I thought about for a while and I think the more people that are out here, the more it shows D.C. doesn’t want to have that here in the city.”
One year earlier, the first “Unite the Right” rally gained national attention as thousands of white nationalists clashed with counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, which resulted in the death of 31-year-old counterprotester Heather Heyer. This year, organizers, led by the first rally’s main organizer Jason Kessler, hoped for similar attendance at Lafayette Square, located near the White House. However, the counter-demonstrators far outnumbered the “Unite the Right 2” participants.
As the crowd continued to grow at Freedom Plaza, the counterprotesters began to travel towards Lafayette Square where police were out in full force to keep the “Unite the Right 2” demonstrators separate from everyone else. As the rain began to pour and the sound of thunder echoed through the streets of the District, many of the counterprotesters shouted chants of “Revolution” at the small group of white nationalists.
“We came out here to try to keep the peace and have leaders and level heads amongst us, so things don’t get too crazy out of hand, “ said Aubrey “Japhari” Jones, president of Black Lives Matter 757, a BLM chapter located in the Tidewater area in Virginia. “A lot of times Black Lives Matter groups get blamed for a lot [of] the mayhem that goes on. We’re just tired of the movement getting blamed during situations like this; we just want to see peace, and third-generation hate not getting passed down,” said Jones.
Originally, the white nationalist group, led by Kessler, planned to protest from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., but they left Lafayette Square before the “Unite the Right 2” rally even began. Once told that the white nationalists were leaving, counterprotesters ran through the streets victoriously with many holding their fists in the air. Police let everyone move about freely once the white nationalist group headed back to Vienna.