SATURDAY, AUGUST 12–Charlottesville, Virginia

On Friday, August 11, Jason Kessler (a white supremacist blogger) planned a “Unite the Right” rally to protest against the removal of the statue of Confederate General Robert E Lee. Hundreds joined in to what was called as one of the largest white supremacist gatherings. Neo-Nazis were photographed carrying torches and Confederate flags and reported chanting, “white lives matter”. The following day, anti-racism counter-protestors and white supremacists clashed. The National Guard was soon quickly called in to diffuse the hostility.

Quickly and inevitably, the protests turned violent. Fights broke out and tear gas and pepper spray was deployed as the two opposing ideologies collided. At 11:28 am, the city of Charlottesville was declared a state of emergency. Police attempted to break down the riots, but the confrontations raged on.

The protests came to a shocking and deeply upsetting climax when a Dodge Challenger rammed into a group of counter-protestors. Nineteen people were left injured, and Heather Heyer died following the car crash. James Alex Fields Jr, Nazi-sympathizer and the driver of the vehicle, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and one count of hit-and-run. Afterward, three other protesters were arrested. Later on, a police helicopter crashed, and its two passengers, Lieutenant Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Bates, were killed.

The tragic events at Charlottesville have shocked the nation, and many have spoken out against racism, bigotry and white supremacy. On Sunday, Virginian state officials visited Mount Zion First African Baptist Church to mourn and unite against division.

“We will get through this stronger than we were yesterday,” Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer said to the crowd. “Our democracy has been through a lot. We’ve been through segregation and Jim Crow. We’ve been through McCarthyism. And we will get through this challenge. And we’re going to do it together.”