In early 2017 the town of Charlottesville, Virginia voted for the removal of pro-slavery Confederate general Robert E Lee’s statue in a local park. Of course, a decision quite as big as this resulted in commotion and many aggravated civilians, specifically the Alt-Right. Throughout the voting process, which would decide the fate of this stature, the Alt-Right consistently protested the idea of removing it. In May, white nationalist Richard Spencer arrived in front of Robert E. Lee’s stature with a few of his supporters and began to protest. As the word got out other white nationalists, such as the Ku Klux Klan, travelled to Charlottesville to support their fellow believers where they were met by many counter-protesters. That Friday night began the many destructive actions that would soon take place the following days.
The difference between the Friday and Saturday night protests and the earlier ones, was the sheer number of protesters on each side. The Alt-Right wielded torches, while the counter-protesters held candles, trying to find peace in a hopeless situation. White supremacists shouted sayings such as “Blut Und Boden”, which was a common Nazi term during World War 2 which meant blood and soil, and “Jews will not replace us”. Both sides were armed, the Alt-Right more so, as they carried weapons along with many flags supporting their beliefs such as the Nazi and Confederate flag. These protests became more than just a disagreement of whether to remove a statue or not, they became an opportunity to bring back the past. The Alt-Right wanted to bring back slavery, white supremacy, and the “pureness” that used to exist. Their protestors, the counter-protestors, merely wanted to support their views of equality for everyone, no matter their color or past. Due to both of the completely opposing views, events quickly got out of hand and both sides attacked one another. Punches were thrown, and pepper spray was used. It was then, during this scene, that an Alt-Right protester rammed their car into the crowd injuring many and killing the innocent 32 year-old, Heather Heyer.
The death of Heather Heyer hit the United States by storm. 20 year-old James Alex Fields was charged for the murder of Heather Heyer by local police. An investigation began and the police soon found out that Alex Fields was previously accused of threatening his own mother with a knife, and beating her. Due to these terrifying, heinous acts committed by an Alt-Right member, many people blame the problems and deaths that happened in Charlottesville on that group. Many people became more outraged than they used to be at the fact that Ku Klux Klan members and Neo-Nazis were walking among them. People took sides, creating a division between man that will never be mended. Even as days passed, people all over the United States became enraged by the happenings in Charlottesville, dividing our nation even more.
Due to this rally 32 citizens were injured, and 3 innocent civilians died. It doesn’t matter whether there were two sides, or that each group provoked the other. Junior Huda Saeed comments “The event was a total tragedy, and just goes to show the extent of damage hate can cause”. It doesn’t matter that weapons were shown, or that there were “fine people on both sides”. None of those details matter, what matters though is that people died. People who had a family, and came home to them injured and scared. Yes, there were two sides, and yes, the Alt-Right is made up of horrible, violent people, but they are still human beings. What they believe in is disgusting and it is wrong, but we have to keep in mind that they too have a family. So, even though the Alt-Right may stoop to the level of killing, others should not. Death, injury, none of those things are the answer, and if they are acted upon, what makes us any better than the Neo-Nazis? America needs to learn how to prevail in disastrous situations such as this. There are dangerous people in this world, there is no denying it, but what really sets the bad and the good part is how they act when faced with conflict. The bad turn their anger into killing, into bloodshed, while the good learn to use their anger and turn it into compassion. In Charlottesville, everyone saw the power that the Alt-Right poses, and that cannot be ignored; even if they are human beings, what they did was wrong and should not be allowed, nor accepted.