Charlottesville Residents Remember Deadly 'Unite The Right' Rally

Aug 11, 2018
Originally published on August 16, 2018 3:25 pm
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LAKSHMI SINGH, HOST:

Let's go now to Charlottesville, Va., where this weekend marks one year since white nationalists held a Unite the Right rally. Torch-bearing marchers chanting white supremacist slogans clashed violently with counterprotesters. Two state troopers monitoring the protests from above died when their helicopter crashed. And one woman, Heather Heyer, was murdered when a car intentionally slammed into a crowd of counterprotesters. Dozens more people were injured. Today, the streets of Charlottesville are heavily policed and fairly quiet as residents remember the deadly rally.

Sandy Hausman of member station WVTF reports.

(SOUNDBITE OF HELICOPTER)

SANDY HAUSMAN, BYLINE: About a thousand police officers and several helicopters are assigned to patrol this city of under 50,000, and, so far, it's been quiet. People coming to Charlottesville's historic downtown mall can enter at only two points, and their bags are being searched for anything that could be used as a weapon.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Can't have no aerosol.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: So we can take that back, or we can throw it away.

HAUSMAN: The strong police presence was disconcerting to some residents like Greg Schmidt Goering.

GREG SCHMIDT GOERING: I know their intentions are to be here to keep the peace and keep us safe and secure, and I appreciate that. On the other hand, it feels a little daunting and overwhelming.

HAUSMAN: Security was also tight at the university, where officials hosted what they called a morning of reflection and renewal.

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Singing) (Unintelligible).

HAUSMAN: President James Ryan thanked students who had stood up to white supremacists during a tiki torch march across campus a year ago today.

JAMES RYAN: When the neo-Nazis and white supremacists marched towards the Jefferson statue last year, they were met by a group of intrepid individuals who had gathered around the statue. It was a remarkable moment of courage and bravery by our students and community members who stood fast.

HAUSMAN: And he assured them that while tactics might differ, the university stands with them in opposition to white supremacy. Student activists are demanding the university issue a lifetime no trespass order against anyone who took part in Unite the Right and offer to pay the medical bills of students who were injured in last summer's protests.

For NPR News, I'm Sandy Hausman in Charlottesville.

[POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: In the introduction to this story, we say that Heather Heyer was murdered by someone who drove a car into a crowd of counterprotesters. In fact, while the driver has been charged with murder and other crimes, he has not yet gone to trial.] Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.