A group of Ku Klux Klan members were outnumbered by counter-protesters at a rally in Charlottesville, Va. Saturday, which was part of a larger protest against the city's decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a public park earlier this year.
At around 3 p.m. E.T. Saturday, approximately 30 members of the Loyal White Knights chapter of the KKK gathered at the rally in Justice Park — waving Confederate flags and shouting "White power," according to Daily Beast journalist Gideon Resnick, who attended the event. The group had previously warned that they would be armed and were prepared to defend themselves if attacked by counter-protesters.
"[The KKK] are far outnumbered by protesters," Resnick tweeted. "Standing inside barricade near the statue."
He estimated that there were hundreds of counter-protesters present. Virginia state police, some of whom were armed in riot gear, formed a wall against counter-protesters, Resnick said.
The rally ended around 4:30 p.m. due to an expiring permit, Resnick tweeted. No reports of violence between the KKK members and counter-protestors were reported.
The Loyal White Knights, based in Pelham, N.C. near the Virginia border, have a series of grievances surrounding the proposed removal of Gen. Lee's statue, which a court injunction has halted until a November hearing. The group is also opposed to the renaming of the park where the statue was, which was formally changed from Lee Park to Emancipation Park following the Charlottesville City Council's unanimous vote in June.
“The liberals are taking away our heritage,” Loyal White Knights member James Moore told the Washington Post Friday. “By taking these monuments away, that’s what they’re working on. They’re trying to erase the white culture right out of the history books.”
Charlottesville leaders took precautionary steps ahead of the rally, with police installing barricades surrounding the park while city officials urged people to avoid direct confrontation with the group.
“Our approach all the way through, from our police chief on down, has been to urge people not to take this totally discredited fringe organization’s putrid bait at all,” Mayor Michael Signer told the Post. “The only thing they seem to want is division and confrontation and a twisted kind of celebrity. The most successful defiance will be to refuse to take their bait and continue to tell our story."