A rally of white nationalists at the University of Virginia ended in violence on Friday night, with several attendees striking others with their lit torches and the police using pepper spray after declaring an unlawful assembly, The Daily Progress reports. At least one person was arrested.
The rally was part of a weekend of marches organized by Unite the Right, a group composed of white nationalists and other far-right activists. Thousands are expected to descend on Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday.
The march ended on Friday with marchers gathering in the university’s Rotunda around the statue of Thomas Jefferson, who founded the university, chanting, “You will not replace us!” The Washington Post reported marchers also chanted, “Jews will not replace us!”
The march lasted only about 20 minutes, the Post reported, before a group of counterprotesters confronted the marchers and fights ensued.
Teresa A. Sullivan, the university’s president, condemned the violence in a statement: “I am deeply saddened and disturbed by the hateful behavior displayed by torch-bearing protesters that marched on our grounds this evening,” she said, in part. “I strongly condemn the unprovoked assault on members of our community, including university personnel who were attempting to maintain order.”
In anticipation of the weekend’s marches, Ms. Sullivan had advised students not to attend. “To approach the rally and confront the activists would only satisfy their craving for spectacle,” she said. “They believe that your counterprotest helps their cause.”
Read an interview with Ms. Sullivan in anticipation of the rallies.