More than 1,000 people gathered in Charlottesville, Va. on Saturday to protest an appearance by members of the Ku Klux Klan. The group of around 50 klansmen appeared in Justice Park, formerly named after Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson,” to protest the city’s efforts to rename monuments to Confederates, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
“Israel’s got a wall around their country. Why can’t we have a wall around ours?” klansmen Douglas Barker asked reporters. “They believe in preserving their own race. Why is it wrong for the white man to preserve their own race?”
Most of what the racist hate group said was drowned out by the boos of the crowd. However, all of the crowd’s taunts weren’t reserved for the confederate flag and white hood wearing group. Many took aim at the police officers who escorted them in and out of the park as a means to avoid any violent confrontations.
— Alex Rubinstein (@RealAlexRubi) July 8, 2017
— Q McCray (@ABC7Q) July 8, 2017
— Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) July 9, 2017
A total of 22 people were arrested as they attempted to block the Klan’s entry into the park. Charlottesville and Virginia State Police later shot off three canisters of tear gas after protestors wouldn’t disperse.
Supporters of the Klan argue that denying them the opportunity to speak and hold their rally would have violated their first amendment rights to freedom of speech and assembly. However, many others feel that this shouldn’t apply to hate groups.
“Groups like this come to communities like this for the purpose of incitement and controversy and a twisted kind of celebrity,” Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer said in an interview. “The victory over them is to deny them that and keep on not only telling our story but refusing to be intimidated away from the sort of work we have been doing that has made us a target for these kinds of groups.”