About two dozen organizations plan to hold a protest this month to counter a White supremacist rally in D.C., one year after a similar rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, resulted in the death of a counterprotester.
“Our lives were forever changed on August 12, 2017, when neo-Nazis, KKK, militia members and alt-right trolls from across the U.S. and North America converged on the town of Charlottesville, Virginia for their Unite the Right rally,” Black Lives Matter said in a statement. “White supremacists lit torches and attacked students as young as 17 last year while the police looked on and did nothing.”
A mix of anti-fascist, or antifa, groups and affiliates will join forces for the protest. Organizers include Black Lives Matter D.C., Maryland Antifa, Smash Racism D.C., the Socialist Party of D.C. and other progressive groups.
Using the hashtag #DefendDC, the groups are calling on “all anti-fascists and people of good conscience” to mass mobilize and participate days of protests Aug. 10-12.
Specific details of the counterprotesters’ plans have not been unveiled, but they will hold a march on Aug. 12 and other demonstrations throughout the weekend.
Jason Kessler, an organizer of last year’s deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, withdrew his petition for a court order that would allow an anniversary event to be held there next month. Instead efforts for the “Unite the Right 2” rally will be focused on bringing the rally to the District.
The permit application states that members of anti-fascist affiliated groups will try to disrupt the event.
Kessler tweeted that the second “Unite the Right” rally will be held in D.C.
“The latest update on #UTR2 is that we’re going to be focusing exclusively on Washington, D.C. next month,” Kessler wrote.
The National Park Service has given approval for a permit request for Lafayette Park, near the White House.
The statement comes after he withdrew a preliminary injunction that called for Charlottesville to issue a permit for a rally this year after they denied the initial permit request in December. Kessler sued in March, claiming the denial infringed on his free speech.
White nationalist James Fields Jr. is charged with driving his car into a crowd of counterprotesters during last year’s rally, killing Heather Heyer and injured at least 19 others.
Shut it Down D.C., one of the participating groups in this year’s protest, called for a “national day of action.”
“Jason Kessler will find no rest, no refuge, no respite,” the group said in a statement. “Communities in D.C. will unite against hate, borders, prison and the vision of Unite the Right.”
The groups encouraged those who could not make it to D.C. to “take to the streets wherever you are” by organizing demonstrations and other actions during the weekend. Among the suggested actions: “Occupy an ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) office, shut down a police station or demonstrate at the home of a local racist, ICE agent or prison profiteer.”
According the “Unite the Right 2” rally permit application, at least 400 participants are expected to attend the “White civil rights rally” with the purpose of protesting “civil rights abuse in Charlottesville.”
The application states that attendees will meet at a rally point, march to Lafayette to give speeches and then march back to the rally point.