White Supremacists, Counterprotesters Set To Converge At Lafayette Square

Aug 12, 2018
Originally published on August 12, 2018 4:35 pm
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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

And that brings us to today. This afternoon, the group behind the Charlottesville rally is expected to hold a demonstration here in Washington. NPR's Jeff Brady is covering today's march. And he joins us now from Lafayette Square, just next to the White House. Good morning.

JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: Good morning.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Jeff, what are you seeing there?

BRADY: Some of what I see is pretty normal - people getting their morning run in. But I was here last night. And in just the last 12 hours, the park has been changed. There are black, metal fences that have been installed. And those are creating separate areas where all the different permitted protests are planned. I see police everywhere. There's an officer with a German Shepherd who's been patrolling. Not a lot of protesters yet. I would say that the police and reporters outnumber just about everybody else at this point.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You know, Jeff, we know that Jason Kessler, the man behind today's Unite the Right event number two, has a permit from the National Park Service for a rally where you are. What else are they planning today?

BRADY: Yeah. There are a lot of - well, you know, we know what the organizer, Jason Kessler, says he's planning, but I think we have to be prepared for, really, just about anything. This afternoon, there's supposed to be a march from a nearby metro station to this park, then a rally. And then everything's supposed to wrap up by about 7:30 this evening. But there's a lot of concern that we could see clashes with counterprotesters.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah. There were also a lot of counterprotesters in Charlottesville a year ago today. So who are you expecting today? Who's going to be there?

BRADY: There are several groups planning protests against the white supremacists and the white nationalists expected here. A Black Lives Matter group has been organizing, another group called Shut It Down D.C. There are half a dozen other groups planning counter-protests, some here in Lafayette Square, others around other places in the district. I ran into one group here and - calling itself Occupy Lafayette Square. They've been here since Thursday. They chose that day because it was the 44th anniversary of Richard Nixon's resignation. And a woman from Pennsylvania, Judy Chang Cody (ph) - she was holding a sign that read, hate has no home here. She came down from the Philadelphia area because she says, given current politics and the white nationalists expected here later today, she just felt like she had to do something.

JUDY CHANG CODY: I mean, it's astonishing that they are so open these days in expressing their views and expressing their hatred and racism. It's awful. This is not the country that I want to live in.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You know, after the events in Charlottesville last year, there was a lot of criticism of the police. How are the police here in Washington preparing for it today?

BRADY: They've been doing a lot of planning. Also, it's important to remember there are different and stricter laws in Virginia here, so no weapons, no guns allowed at this event. And police here have a little more experience handling large crowds. The big goal is to keep opposing sides apart from each other.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: NPR's Jeff Brady at Lafayette Square near the White House. Thank you.

BRADY: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.