Feature: One year after bloody rally, U.S. city of Charlottesville still healing


CHARLOTTESVILLE, the United States, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) — A year after a white nationalist rally traumatized Charlottesville, in the U.S. state of Virginia, with riots and blood, the city is still healing from the shock.

It has become a routine for local resident Susan Bro to stop by a street corner in downtown Charlottesville over the past year, a place where her daughter Heather Heyer was killed. People now commemorate her daughter.

On Aug. 12, 2017, white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and members of other hate groups gathered in Charlottesville for a self-styled “Unite the Right” rally to protest against the city’s decision to remove a Confederate statue before clashing violently with counter-protesters.

After the riots were dispersed, an Ohio man associated with white nationalist groups drove a car into the crowd of counter-protesters who were marching peacefully, killing 32-year-old Heyer and injuring 19 others.

“If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention,” the victim’s last Facebook post said. Bro told Xinhua that the message that her daughter was trying to send is that there is no “place for hate.”

On both sides of the street where Heyer was hit, people have left notes in chalk on the sidewalk and on brick walls, such as “There is no room for hate,” “Teach love not hate” and “Let love overcome hate.” Others stop by to leave flowers and offer prayers.

“The city has not healed from it. The city is still very raw emotionally and the city has a lot of work to do,” Bro said.

Davina Jackson, a singer who has lived in Charlottesville for over four decades, told Xinhua that she couldn’t believe such a thing would happen in Charlottesville, a city that she said is so “loving and beautiful.”

While white supremacy has gained more publicity following the Charlottesville riots, far-right forces in the country have not been strengthened. In the face of widespread opposition and condemnation, they are fraught with infighting and division.

But Charlottesville has not recovered, said Jackson. “I think about it every day. It affects me personally.”

The African American who lives in a predominantly white neighborhood said she has to look over her shoulder and is also worrying for her son for fear they would be attacked by someone who dislikes them.

In the year since the “Unite the Right” rally, about 75 Confederate memorials have been renamed or removed from public places across the United States, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a U.S. civil rights group.

The number of public Confederate memorials — monuments, place names, symbols and holidays — is 1,740,237 more than that in 2016, because Confederate sites, most established long ago, are being discovered faster than they are being removed.

Notably, the Confederate memorial that triggered the white nationalist event — an equestrian statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee — still stands at Emancipation Park in downtown Charlottesville.

Though a recent poll found that over half of Americans support that Confederate monuments should remain in all public spaces, there’s no single answer as to what those memorials stand for, history or slavery.

For Peter Kleeman, a retired professor at the University of Virginia, it is not something “we are proud of, but it is part of our history and we ought to understand it.” “So my feeling is (providing) more information from both sides of the issue,” he said.

Charlottesville has denied a permit to host another “Unite the Right” rally in the city on the one-year anniversary of the event, citing concerns over public safety.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and the city of Charlottesville earlier this week declared a state of emergency and have mobilized a large number of police to fend off violence after drawing bitter lessons from last year’s riots.


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