Police pepper spray, arrest activists as KKK rally meets rival protest in Charlottesville (VIDEOS)
Twenty-three people have been detained in Charlottesville, Virginia, where Black Lives Matter supporters and members of a Ku Klux Klan group engaged in a public standoff.
The dual protest came after the city council decided to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E Lee from a park and rename the area ‘Emancipation Park’. The monument has been on the site since the 1920s.
Furious members of KKK group the Loyal White Knights turned out to Charlottesville’s Justice Park to protest the move.
“[On] July 8th in Virginia we will make a stand for our southern history. They are trying to erase whites and our great culture right out of the history books,” a statement on the group’s website reads.
In response, members of Black Lives Matter movement and the Charlottesville Showing Up for Racial Justice group gathered in the same park to oppose their message.
A spokesperson for the city of Charlottesville confirmed to RT.com that 23 people were arrested at the event. Of the estimated 1,000-strong attendance, around 50 were KKK members, the spokesperson added.
Earlier, RT reporter Alexander Rubinstein said at least six people were detained by police officers at the standoff.
Police start making arrests pic.twitter.com/ElFK529TxA— Alex Rubinstein (@RealAlexRubi) July 8, 2017
Footage from the rally shows Klan members giving white power salutes while supporters of the counter demo chant “Black Lives Matter.”
The Loyal White Knights say they “do not hate any group of people” but do hate homosexuality and “race-mixing.”
"White power" and Nazi salutes pic.twitter.com/CJKHHdrjbC— Alex Rubinstein (@RealAlexRubi) July 8, 2017
“We do hate some things that certain groups are doing to our race and our nation,” the website reads. “We hate drugs, homosexuality, abortion and race-mixing, because these things go against God’s law and they are destroying all white nations.”
Leader of Loyal White Knights James Moore gave me an interview but started accusing me of being Jewish halfway in. Breath smelled like booze pic.twitter.com/auP7AyYodt— Alex Rubinstein (@RealAlexRubi) July 8, 2017
Charlottesville mayor Michael Signer had urged people not to take notice of the Loyal White Knight’s “putrid bait”.
“They only thing they seem to want is division and confrontation and a twisted kind of celebrity,” he said.