One year to the day after a white nationalist rally devolved into deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, a second iteration of the event — this one in Washington, D.C. — drew a fraction of the original event’s crowd. The small number of right-wing marchers who did show up were dwarfed by thousands of counterprotesters, who dominated the landscape in downtown Washington. And the rally, which had expected to begin in the early evening, was already over by late Sunday afternoon, cut short by rain.
Fewer than 50 people turned up for the event that was billed as Unite the Right 2. They were led by Jason Kessler, the white nationalist who rose to prominence by co-organizing the Charlottesville rally last year.
Amid a heavy police presence throughout the city’s downtown, Kessler and his supporters were ushered by police from the Foggy Bottom Metro stop, where they had arrived from suburban Virginia.
Confronted by a phalanx of counterprotesters there, they made their way to Lafayette Park, just north of the White House. Along the way, they were met by a steady stream of opponents, who jeered and chanted anti-racist slogans at them.
After the group reached the park, Kessler addressed the media.
Unite the Right was granted a permit for 400 people, a number it didn’t come close to reaching. The counterprotest group the Answer Coalition was granted a permit for more than 1,200 people at Lafayette Square, adjacent to the park. Police officers set up barriers to separate the two sides. Two other groups were given permits to gather at the Lincoln Memorial.
In Charlottesville itself, the anniversary of last year’s trauma was marked by peace. Hundreds of anti-racist marchers gathered at a park near the University of Virginia, and Susan Bro, the mother of slain counterprotester Heather Heyer, spoke to a crowd of hundreds on the street where her daughter was killed last year.
“I don’t want other mothers to be in my spot,” she said. “I don’t want other mothers to go through this.