What began as a local effort to protect a symbol of white supremacy in Charlottesville, Virginia, has become what may be the largest gathering of “pro-white” demonstrators in the United States for well over a decade at this weekend’s “Unite the Right” rally.
Following months of public debate, the Charlottesville city council voted in February to remove a statue of General Robert E. Lee from a downtown park. ‘Alt-right’ leader Richard Spencer led a white supremacist protest in May and the KKK rallied in July against the statue’s removal. Local blogger Jason Kessler started organizing a “Unite the Right” rally to occur on August 12th to express support for leaving the statue where it is—in the middle of Lee Park (now named Emancipation Park). The neo-Confederate League of the South promoted the rally in hopes of “an excellent turnout of Southern nationalists:”
In response to the Alt-Right’s peaceful demonstration in support of the Lee Monument on May 13th, the City of Charlottesville and roving mobs of Antifa have cracked down on the First Amendment rights of conservatives and right wing activists. They have threatened our families, harassed our employers and tried to drive us from public spaces with threats of intimidation. We are not afraid. You will not divide us.
This is an event which seeks to unify the right-wing against a totalitarian Communist crackdown, to speak out against displacement level immigration policies in the United States and Europe, and to affirm the right of Southerners and white people to organize for their interests just like any other group is able to do, free of persecution.
With hundreds of people expected to attend the rally as well as thousands of counterprotestors, the city announced on Monday that the rally had to move to the larger McIntire Park. Kessler refused to budge, insisting the rally needed to be held at the site of the statue because its removal is “about white genocide. It’s about the replacement of our people, culturally and ethnically.”
For the rally, which Kessler has said is meant “to destigmatize Pro-White advocacy,” he has gathered a formidable roster of alt-right white nationalist activists who are charged with uniting the American right-wing:
- Jason Kessler: Right-wing blogger and “pro-white” activist; intent on protecting Confederate monuments; has committed assault and allegedly been assaulted in his quest to protect Lee’s statue
- Richard Spencer: neo-Nazi; responsible for term “alt-right;” founder of white supremacist National Policy Institute
- Mike Enoch (real name Mike Peinovich): once a leader of the alt-right; created neo-Nazi site The Right Stuff; had anti-Semitic podcast called The Daily Shoah; doxed by “anonymous left-wing users on the Medium blog site” when it was discovered that his wife is Jewish – a search that was prompted by right-wing agitator Mike Cernovich
- Baked Alaska (real name Tim Gionet): former Buzzfeed staffer who says he was radicalized to the right when he was told he shouldn’t say “spirit animal;” road manager for Milo Yiannopoulos’ college tour before Milo fired him; a self-described “wild, redneck, kick-ass” rapper
- Augustus Invictus (real name Austin Gillespie): believes he was born to start a second Civil War; is a practicing pagan who once sacrificed a live goat; renounced his U.S. citizenship; advocates for a eugenics program in the U.S.; accused of domestic violence; kicked out of the Libertarian Party; spoke at “Make Men Great Again” conference
- Christopher Cantwell: once wrote that it is necessary to kill government agents; hosts a call-in talk show; stated his “goal here is to normalize racism”; wants an Anglo ethno state
- Matt Heimbach: white nationalist; founded the Traditionalist Youth Network; training director at League of the South; founded the White Student Union at Towson University in Baltimore; labeled “the next David Duke” by the Washington Post
- Johnny Monoxide (real name Johnny Ramondetta): neo-Nazi; writes on white supremacist blog The Right Stuff; arrested for dealing cocaine; briefly served in the Navy; supported Occupy Wall Street before being “red-pilled;” thinks the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax; believes African Americans are racially inferior; host of Paranormies podcast
- Pax Dickinson: former Chief Technology Officer at Business Insider who was fired when reporters took notice of his racist and sexist Twitter habit; founder of CounterFund (an alt-right version of Patreon, allowing people to financially support podcasts, etc.)
- Dr. Michael Hill: neo-Confederate secessionist; president of League of the South; seeks to revive Southern heritage; warns of a coming “real civil war”
- James Allsup: student at Washington State University (class of 2018); “Senior Advisor” at Students for Trump; right-wing video blogger; was punched in the face at DC inaugural events and allegedly hit in the head with a flag pole; created a racist video about Black Lives Matter