— Tariq Nasheed (@tariqnasheed) August 12, 2017
Hundreds of white supremacists, self-described Nazis and other associated members of the popular political trend known euphemistically as the “alt-right” stormed the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville (UVA) last night.
The collection of white faces, mostly male, marched toward the university’s centrally-located statue of Thomas Jefferson, UVA’s founder, with tiki torches in hand as they assaulted and shouted at students and journalists.
Chants of “One people, one nation, end immigration!”, “White lives matter!”, and “Blood and Soil!” were consistent refrains. While the first two slogans could arguably be tied to present-day reactionary politics, the term “Blood and Soil” is well-known for its official adoption by the German Nazi Party. Coined during the late 19th century, the racist concept prizes cultural homogeneity, eugenics and ruralism as a panacea for social ills. It was later popularized by the Nazis and used largely for propaganda purposes, especially in developing the Lebensraum ideal.
In the video above, at least one of the neo-Nazi marchers can be heard verbally accosting students on her periphery. She hectors on repeat: “You sound like a nigger! You sound like a nigger! You sound like a nigger!”
Armed with such phrasing and torches, the parallels to Ku Klux Klan and Nuremberg rallies–comparative descriptions which have circulated voluminously in the aftermath of last night’s events–were likely intentional.
Wearing polo shirts, button-down ginghams and variegated khakis, the neo-Nazis, white supremacists and alt-rightists would look right at home in most churches, schools, police stations and office buildings across suburban Virginia, but for the tell-tale appearance of the occasional swastika pin, “Sieg Heil!” salute and torch-beating meted out to the students who stood up to them.
And a few students did exactly that.
Responding to the onslaught of white supremacy, a small group of students apparently aged 17-23 held up a banner reading “VA Students Act Against White Supremacy”. As the fascists closed in around them near the Jefferson statue, the students chanted their own slogans, a bit more redolent of liberty than those before: “No Nazis, no KKK, no fascist USA!”
Then the violence began. In the video below, neo-Nazis can be seen assaulting students and journalists.
— Josh Sánchez (@jnsanchez) August 12, 2017
In another video, activist Emily Gorcenski traces most of what occurred in Charlottesville last night in real time. Near the end, a group of neo-Nazis scream at her, making transphobic slurs before she is attacked.
The police, for their part, looked on while the violence was directed towards the counter-protestors–only intervening long after UVA students were attacked with the torches, lighter fluid and mace, according to Gorcenski.
One person was eventually arrested. UVA President Teresa A. Sullivan released a statement this morning condemning the rally.