White Supremacists Return to Charlottesville Chanting, ‘Russia is Our Friend’

Led by Richard Spencer, about 50 people suddenly descended on a statue of Robert E. Lee on Saturday night—and they say they’ll be back.

Jackson Landers/The Daily Beast

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia—White supremacist Richard Spencer suddenly reappeared on Saturday night with torch-bearing supporters, two months after he organized an infamous hate march here.

Spencer and his 50 or so followers gathered around a statue of Robert E. Lee in Emancipation Park chanting white supremacist slogans.

“They were shouting ‘You will not replace us,’ ‘Russia is our friend,’ ‘the South will rise again,’ ‘we'll be back,’” said a University of Virginia faculty member, who wished not to be named for fear of retribution.

“I saw a bunch of guys filing in with what appeared to be torches and then the shouting started. I decided that I wasn’t going to avoid them and I got right up in their faces,” the faculty member said.

Spencer, who advocates for “peaceful ethnic cleansing” of non-whites, made a brief speech through a bull horn.

“We are here to represent white America’s interest,” Spencer shouted, claiming Charlottesville residents have a “false sense of community,” according to the faulty member.

Police arrived about 30 minutes after Spencer and his followers left.

A group of locals responded to Spencer’s demonstration by gathering in Emancipation Park and marching to UVA President Teresa Sullivan’s house, where campus police halted them at the front porch. Sullivan has been under fire for failing to stop Spencer’s march on Aug. 11 when hundreds of white supremacists bearing torches gathered around a statue of Thomas Jefferson chanting racist slogans including “Jews will not replace us.”

The next day, white supremacist James Fields killed protester Heather Heyer by ramming his car into a crowd demonstrating against the “Unite the Right” rally.

Following Heyer’s death, President Donald Trump blamed “many sides” for violence in Charlottesville, though only white supremacists have been charged by for violence, including Fields.

Christopher Cantwell was charged with a felony for spraying a protester. Alex Ramos and Daniel Borden were arrested for beating a black man, allegedly breaking his wrist and lacerating his head. Richard Preston, a member of the Ku Klux Klan, was arrested for illegally discharging a firearm.

The Lee statue was covered with black tarps by the city since shortly after August’s violence, while the city tries to find a legal means of removing it. The statue is off-limits, surrounded by orange plastic fencing. A Charlottesville spokesperson said the Spencer assembly was protected by the First Amendment.

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Nevertheless, Mayor Mike Singer said Spencer does not belong.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated throughout.