Several hundred white nationalists wielding torches clashed with counterprotesters on the University of Virginia campus late Friday, intensifying security concerns ahead of a planned “Unite the Right” rally. Marchers reportedly chanted “White lives matter!” and “Jews will not replace us!” before running into counterprotesters. Several fights broke out and a counterprotester deployed pepper spray before police intervened and dispersed the crowd. Several people were treated for minor injuries, but there were no immediate reports of arrests. The torchlit march was met with condemnation by Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer, who said he was “disgusted” by the “cowardly parade of hatred, bigotry, racism, and intolerance.” Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has been equally critical of the rally scheduled for noon on Saturday, urging residents to “stay away” from the event at Emancipation Park over threats from “extremist groups.” The rally, organized by an alt-right blogger to protest Charlottesville’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, is expected to draw thousands of people, with the National Guard on standby should things spiral out of control.
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