There were no protests, no chanting and no arrests this weekend as Charlottesville marked the second anniversary of a violent white supremacist rally. Instead, the city celebrated what it calls Unity Days – a range of events designed to bring people together:
A community sing-out set the tone for this year’s remembrance of Unite the Right – area residents choosing to emphasize their commitment to improved race relations in Charlottesville. In Market Street Park, once filled with angry chants and gun-toting extremists, there were tables filled with literature and volunteers touting opportunities to make the community better. On the downtown mall, where state police in riot gear had marched in 2017, city cops kept a low profiled
“Hi guys!," called Police Chief RaShall Brackney as several officers rode by on bikes. She had urged them to be friendly – but she didn’t rule out the need for security, pointing to recent attacks in Dayton and El Paso. That, she said, was why she’d requested a large number of state police who were highly visible around town.
“In this day and age, you should have additional support and preparedness.”
Side streets that crossed the mall were blocked by trucks, but that didn’t keep pedestrians from their favorite cafes and bars where local musicians performed -- reclaiming the reputation the city lost to violent participants in Unite the Right – many of them now behind bars.