WASHINGTON, Aug. 13 — Dozens of far-right activists, some carrying U.S. flags and hiding their faces under bandannas, walked from Foggy Bottom Metro station in Washington under heavy protection to the White House on Sunday, marking the first anniversary of a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The “Unite the Right” demonstration last year held by white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and members of other hate groups in Charlottesville turned violent, killing one person and wounding 19 others.
Before the far-right activists reached their final destination of “Unite the Right 2” rally, Lafayette Park, a green wooded lot just across the street from the White House, thousands of people already converged there, shouting “Shame,” “Go home Nazis!”
To prevent conflicts, nearly 100 Washington policemen on bicycles and motorcycles created a protective buffer around the far-right activists, keeping vigilant for any counter-demonstrators who might be trying to sneak into the circumference.
The two sides insulted each other, but once the air became particularly charged, the police would rev their motorcycle engines to discourage further escalation.
To prepare for the event, the police had already separated the park with a sturdy wired fence, and allocated different groups to different sections. Two streets by the park were also cordoned off.
Elsewhere in Washington, counterprotesters dominated squares and plazas to denounce the far-right activists, whom they say are racists, xenophobes and white supremacists.
Activist groups comprising African Americans, minority ethnic groups, Muslims, women, and immigrants were seen participating in the demonstrations under the sweltering heat.
“No Nazis, No KKK, No fascist in the U.S.A!” a group chanted on Freedom Plaza, just blocks away from the White House.
Kristen Minogue, who joined the event from the neighboring state of Maryland, said the far-right activists don’t represent the United States. “We are a country that embraces diversity and as a white person I am not afraid to be a minority.”
Antifa, a group known for using violent means to oppose far-right activists, was also seen among the demonstrators. Most of its members were dressed in black, many wearing helmets and equipped with sticks and protective gear, to prepare for any potential brawls.
However, the tense atmosphere was dampened by rain that dispersed the crowd.
The far-right activists stepped into police vehicles and headed to Virginia.
On Sunday evening, streets in central Washington and Lafayette Park were almost empty, with just a small number of people lingering around. – XINHUA