Yesterday white nationalists mustered a miserable turnout of 20 activists for “Unite the Right 2” in Washington DC, exactly one year since the disastrous alt-right rally in Charlottesville
The first “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on 12 August 2017 has become the most infamous moment in the history of the alt-right.
The event, ostensibly a protest against plans to remove Confederate statues, was set to feature a host of prominent alt-right figures from various groups, standing together in a brazen show of solidarity and power.
As it transpired, the event was marred by ferocious violence that resulted in dozens of serious injuries and the death of antifascist activist Heather Heyer, after an alleged white supremacist drove a car into a crowd of counter-protesters.
The chaos made headlines around the world and became a key turning point for the alt-right, unleashing a slew of exposés, disavowals, online deplatformings and lawsuits directed against organisers and attendees.
Unite the Right 2
Exactly one year later, Jason Kessler, a primary organiser of the Unite the Right, has honoured the first anniversary of the catastophic rally with “Unite the Right 2”, this time in front of the White House.
Many in the alt-right have questioned the wisdom of attempting to repeat such a disasterous event, with the big names of the previous rally – such as alt-right figurehead Richard Spencer and Mike Peinovich (AKA Mike Enoch) of TheRightStuff.biz – distancing themselves beforehand. “Please don’t take me on another ride like this last year. I feel like I’ve aged a decade here”, wrote Andrew Anglin of the Daily Stormer.
Despite facing considerable opposition both within and without the alt-right, Kessler – who placed the blame for last year’s violence on inadequate policing – optimistically hoped his “white civil rights” rally would attract 100 – 400 supporters.
Predictably, Kessler was only able to muster a tiny group of 20 activists, who were massively outnumbered by hundreds of counter-protesters.
The event was over quickly. Marchers, some wearing helmets and masks, alighted a subway train at Foggy Bottom station in DC and were escorted by a large police presence to Lafayette Square, near the White House.
At the square Kessler, clutching an American flag (flag poles had been banned for fear they could be weaponised), answered media questions before speakers addressed the crowd from a small stage. Roughly two hours after Unite the Right 2 started, the marchers were transported away from the rainy DC square in police vans.
Still from my video: One of the Unite the Right participants, wearing an American flag to cover his face, walked for about 15 seconds while holding a nazi salute. pic.twitter.com/6WL1XCD2qi
— Ford Fischer (@FordFischer) August 13, 2018
Whilst Kessler told the media that he wished to dissasociate from the prominent nazi contingent at the first Unite the Right rally, one marcher reportedly engaged in a nazi salute, and others bore evident nazi tattoos.
Jason Kessler said Unite the Right 2 wasn’t about white supremacy but surprise surprise here’s attendees with tattoos and pamphlets touting the neo-Nazi symbol 1488 and the 14 Words slogan pic.twitter.com/oIOQMU3uUj
— Caleb Ecarma (@calebecarma) August 12, 2018
Kessler, who blamed the low turnout on logistical difficulties, has attempted to claim that the event was a “solid win for White Rights activists and the free speech of all Americans”. Some alt-right activists who initially opposed the march, such as Greg Johnson of Counter-Currents Publishing, have claimed that the event “couldn’t have been better”, and Brad Griffin (AKA Hunter Wallace) of the Occidental Dissent blog stated that “Kessler did about as good a job as possible given the support he got”.
That alt-right activists could claim the washout of Unite the Right 2 was a “victory” is demonstrative of how badly the movement has suffered in America since Charlottesville.
Charlottesville was one of the biggest far-right demonstrations in the US for decades which, in the words of HOPE not hate researcher Patrik Hermansson (who was undercover at the first event), demonstrated that “there was enough unity, motivation and financial resources within the movement to bring a range of groups and a sizeable crowd of their adherents out in the open”.
Just a year later, the movement in the US is fragmented, and has primarily scuttled away from the streets and back to online enclaves and private events. Stay tuned for an in-depth look at the effect of the Charlottesville march on the alt-right later this week.