Counter-Protesters Square Off with Klan Members at Rally in Virginia | Sojourners

Counter-Protesters Square Off with Klan Members at Rally in Virginia

Counter-protesters lock arms after members of the Ku Klux Klan rallied in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Va. Image via Reuters/Jonathan Ernst.

Nearly 30 Klansmen gathered to protest the planned removal of a statue of General Robert E. Lee from a park in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday.

According to the Washington Post, they were met by nearly 1,000 vocal counter-protesters who waved signs denouncing racism and white supremacy.

The Post reports

Attempts by Klan leaders to address the crowd were repeatedly drowned out by boos and chants. Some of the Klan members arrived armed, carrying handguns in holsters at their belts. After the Klan rally ended, police led several people away in handcuffs after a large group of counterprotesters remained near the vicinity of the park. Police asked those still gathered nearby to disperse. Wearing riot gear and gas masks, the police declared the counterprotesters "an unlawful assembly" and used gas canisters to compel them to leave the area.

Twenty-three people were arrested.

Reuters reported that members of the Ku Klux Klan waved Confederate flags and signs with anti-Semitic messages. A few dozen KKK members and supporters shouted "white power" and attempted to give speeches, but were drowned out by chants and shouts from anti-KKK protesters. 

This is the second widely publicized white supremacist rally in Charlottesville to protest the planned removal of the statue — the first a white nationalist "torch night" in May. 

A leader of a Viriginia-based KKK group has previously denied that the Klan is a violent or racist group, saying the Klan is a "Christian organization ... about love for God, race and nation."

Reuters contributed to this story. Additional reporting by Jon Herskovitz and Chris Michaud.

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