WASHINGTON – One year after the racial violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, hundreds of demonstrators gathered in a park on Sunday to denounce racism and hate groups hours before white nationalists gathered outside the White House
around noon The organizers and participants in the counter-demonstrations gathered in Charlottesville last August at Booker T. Washington Park, just north of the University of Virginia, and a mile from downtown, where a 32-year-old woman was killed by a white racist. Dozens of police officers from the state police formed a barricade that prevented protesters from moving in front of a checkpoint. With no evidence of white racists, tensions were limited to interactions between leftist demonstrators and law enforcement agencies.
While the city was prepared for the possibility of violence, the usual sunny morning calm prevailed in downtown Washington. Groups of about half a dozen police officers in neon-yellow west were stationed on street corners, and police patches attached to lampposts declared that the possession of firearms was outlawed for the day.
At Lafayette Square, where the white nationalists and counter-demonstrators planned to gather, a maze of barricades had been erected to manage the two sides as soon as they arrived in the evening. Stack of posters calling for an end to white supremacy lay on the grass. And a handful of counter-demonstrators, including some Black Lives Matter activists, gave the television cameras interviews on the sidewalk.
In the morning, police officers cleared the park
In Charlottesville, a On campus of the University of Virginia, a rally and demonstration against white supremacy took place. The university created a designated room for the protests and refused to allow demonstrators to meet where battles took place last year: at the base of a statue of Thomas Jefferson.
Students and other participants rubbed themselves in confined spaces. "Why are you in riot gear? We do not see any turmoil here," said one of the bullhorn-amplified chants.
Jalane Schmidt, a professor of religion at the University of Virginia and organizer of the Black Lives Matter, said, "The response to the failure of policing is enough The summer is not overstating this summer, and that's what the students responded to, they said Setup for this rally – metal detectors, barricades, the hundreds of cops – that's not the kind of world we want to live in. "
On Saturday, President Trump made a general call for unity and denounced" All Kinds of Racism ", but do not explicitly condemn white supremacy.
"Revolts in Charlottesville a year ago led to meaningless death and division," he wrote on Saturday morning on Twitter . "We must come together as a nation, I condemn all kinds of racism and violence, peace be upon all Americans!"
Mr. Trump's words recalled his reluctance a year after the fatal Charlottesville rally to challenge white nationalists to blame "both sides" for the violence and to draw a moral equivalence between hate groups and counter-protests.
The Sunday rally, called Unite the Right II, is scheduled to take over Lafayette Square for two hours in the evening. The "Unite the Right" group plans to have up to 400 people at the rally, according to the National Park Service's approval, although the number of people present could be significantly lower.
An anti-racism group, the Answer Coalition, granted approval for a group on Lafayette Square three times the size of Unite the Right. At least two groups of anti-protests have permission to gather at the Lincoln Memorial.
On Sunday afternoon, white nationalists from Foggy Bottom, a quarter west of the White House, are scheduled to march to the small quadrant of Lafayette Square to occupy. A counter-protest group is to march from the opposite direction, just east of the White House in Freedom Plaza, to the same location.
As soon as the formal program begins, Jason Kessler, who helped organize last year's Charlottesville rally, will speak to the crowd, including David Duke, the former politician and Ku Klux Klan leader.
The Park Service, which annually allows around 750 First Amendment demonstrations in the National Capital Region, granted Mr. Kessler one last week. "There has never been a First Amendment approval that has been rejected," said Mike Litterst, a Park Service spokesman. "There was not much discussion or question if it would be spent."
Last year, neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klansmen and other members of hate groups marched through Charlottesville campus through the University of Virginia campus. Semitic slogans then fought with protests in the streets of the city. A man who advocated neo-Nazi views is accused of driving his vehicle into the counter-fighters killed a 32-year-old woman, Heather D. Heyer.
The possibility of this kind of spontaneous chaos has led to weeks of planning between Washington's law enforcement agencies who have developed proposals to protect marches that lead to the rally and the rally itself, as well as with any confrontations that occurred before or after take place on the streets of Washington.
Sgt. Park Ding's James Dingeldein said his agency, the Washington Police Department, and the Park Service had met with Mr. Kessler and anti-protest group leaders to explain what was allowed on the grounds of the park. The Park Service has issued a number of restrictions and prohibitions on items that can be imported and prohibits some of the items used in Charlottesville. The Washington police have vowed to keep the groups separate.
"If there is a potential for violence, it will be dealt with quickly," said Sergeant Dingeldein.
Federal officials have expressed their concern that violence could invade other parts of the country Washington. Sergeant Dingeldein said the police had prepared preparedness teams.
James Murray, a deputy director of the Bureau of Intelligence warned Monday in a letter to the Park Service that it was possible that tension between groups could lead to the same kind of violence in Portland , Oregon, took place. Last weekend, when a rally became violent after the police said a group began throwing stones and bottles at officers.
Mr. Murray wrote that some of the counter-protagonists who conquered the streets of downtown during the January 2017 inauguration of the president were also interested in the demonstrations on Sunday and would receive "violent and destructive activities." Members of the sometimes violent movement Antifa is expected to be among the intercessors on Sunday.
Muriel E. Bowser, the mayor of Washington, has activated the city's emergency center on Thursday. At a press conference that day, she said that Unite the Right participants were an anomaly among visitors to Washington.
"Very few of our visitors share the views expressed on Lafayette Square this weekend," she said.
Hawes Spencer contributed reports from Charlottesville.