WASHINGTON, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) — Thousands of anti-protesters gathered in several locations in central Washington Sunday afternoon, hours before a controversial right supremacist rally is scheduled.
The protesters are gathered in Lafayette park, just across the street from the White House, and the freedom plaza, just blocks away.
The protesters gathered in the country’s capital to mark the one-year anniversary of the deadly Charlottesville protest, during which a white supremacist killed a female anti protester, sparking nationwide furor.
To prevent potential conflict, Washington law enforcement came onto the street in force to maintain order. An entire section of Pennsylvania adjacent to the White House has been sealed off.
Organizers of the the far right rally, officially named United the Right 2, claim their purpose was to advocate “White civil rights,” but were slammed as promoting racism and xenophobia. The far right rally is set to begin in Lafayette park at 5:30 pm.
Anti-protesters held up signs denouncing racism, fascism and calling for pluralism, and at time broke out in chants and sing alongs.
Debbie Wagner, an anti protester from neighboring state of Maryland, told Xinhua that she was shocked by the tragedy at Charlottesville last year, and found many around her have become more politically vocal in the past year.
“White Supremacism is a terrible thing, I hope America can continue to be a place of diversity,” she said.
Last summer’s “Unite the Right” rally in historic Charlottesville, held on Aug. 12 to protest U.S. cities taking down Confederate statues, attracted national attention when white supremacists, fascists and neo-Nazis violently clashed with counter-protesters.
A 32-year-old woman was killed and 19 others were injured when an Ohio man associated with white nationalist groups allegedly drove a car into the crowd of counter-protesters.
President Trump drew a firestorm of criticism last year following the deadly when he said “both sides” were to blame for the violence.