About fifty members of the Ku Klux Klan staged a rally in Charlottesville Saturday over planned removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, but they were surrounded by a massive crowd demanding they go home. Sandy Hausman was there and filed this report.
Officials had asked the public to stay away, the weather was uncomfortably hot, and there were alternative events including a free concert and talks at the African American Heritage Center where director Andrea Douglas was pleasantly surprised.
"We had 300 chairs, and every single one of them was filled. With people standing in the back, I'd say we had at least 400 people, and they stayed."
Still, at 3 p.m. when the Klan was set to arrive, a thousand people had gathered in the newly named Justice Park. Among them, Precious Williams, Lisa Gaudet, andAdam Steffler.
“Because I believe that if you just stay silent, nothing gets done.”
“I’m Jewish. A lot of my family is black, and with the way the world is going today, I might end up in an oven, and they might end up on a tree.”
“I wanted to be here to stand and bear witness against hate in my community. I couldn’t stay away.”
“I’m just here to show the forces of love and tolerance outnumber the forces of intolerance and hate.”
“It would be excellent if nobody was out here today with them and it was just crickets, but if one person is going to be out here giving them attention we all need to be giving them attention.”
The KKK stayed less than half an hour – milling around in a fenced area with their Confederate flags and banners. Members were escorted away by police. About a hundred officers from the university, city, county and state were on duty. When the crowd tried to stop the klansmen from driving off, officers used tear gas, and 23 protesters were arrested.