A park across the street from the White House filled up with people Sunday evening who oppose a white nationalist demonstration that is scheduled to take place later in the day.
The white nationalists will gather in Washington on the first anniversary of their “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that turned violent and led to the death of a counterprotester.
A stage was set up in Lafayette Park and rap music played for a crowd of about 300 people, many of whom carried signs saying “Shut down white supremacy.” Uniformed police officers and a line of police barricades cut the park in half, restricting the counterprotesters to the northern half, farthest from the White House.
“We will be here until these fascist forces are gone, however long that takes,” one of the counterprotest organizers said from the stage.
Meanwhile, over 100 people demonstrated against racism in downtown Charlottesville. The group began marching Sunday morning after a rally held at a city park and made its way toward downtown. Some marchers linked arms as they walked. The group directed chants against police officers who were accompanying the march, including “cops and Klan go hand in hand” and “will you protect us?”
Law enforcement officials faced blistering criticism in the wake of last year’s rally for what was perceived as a passive response to the violence that unfolded. White supremacists and counterprotesters clashed in the city streets before a car driven into a crowd struck and killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer.
A review by a former U.S. attorney found a lack of coordination between state and city police and an operational plan that elevated officer safety over public safety.