Richard Spencer, who in August led white nationalists and white supremacists in a torchlight march across the University of Virginia campus that touched off a weekend of deadly clashes, returned Saturday night to Charlottesville.
Spencer, a white nationalist, posted video on social media of followers carrying torches to the statue of Robert E. Lee, which the city has sought to remove.
Back in Charlottesville https://t.co/0iwH1CT8sT
â Richard âSpencer (@RichardBSpencer) October 7, 2017
Charlottesville 3.0 was as success. pic.twitter.com/c18ktP0MWD
â Richard âSpencer (@RichardBSpencer) October 8, 2017
The march coincided with the universityâs celebration of its bicentennial.
âIt was a planned flash mob,â Spencer said in an interview Saturday night. âIt was a great success. Weâve been planning this for a long time.â
âWe wanted to prove that we came in peace in May, we came in peace in August, and we come again in peace,â he said.
Their message, he said, is that, âOur identity matters. We are not going to stand by and allow people to tear down these symbols of our history and our people â and weâre going to do this again.â
Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer sent a tweet denouncing the march: âAnother despicable visit by neo-Nazi cowards. Youâre not welcome here! Go home! Meantime weâre looking at all our legal options. Stay tuned.â
Wes Gobar, the leader of the U-Va. Black Student Alliance, who was trying to finish a paper for class when he learned of the rally, said it was difficult balancing studies while bracing for the next burst of hatred that might seize Charlottesville. On Saturday, some members of his group knelt in protest during the National Anthem and the schoolâs âGood Old Song.â
Spencer, a U-Va. graduate, said he was unaware that the school was marking its bicentennial. They have been planning this âfor a long time.â
WVIR-TV reported that Spencer and his group arrived at Emancipation Park, which is not on the university campus, about 7:45 p.m., and departed 15 minutes later.
White nationalists now chanting â âWe will be backâ. About 3 dozen supporters in Emancipation Park. Plenty of police on standby in park. pic.twitter.com/LuJEsAgxQy
â Matt Talhelm (@MattTalhelm) October 7, 2017
The video Spencer posted show him and his crowd chanting, âYou will not replace us.â
They promised to keep returning to Charlottesville, which they argued had become symbolic of their right to speak and also had come to symbolize the tearing down of symbols of the nationâs history.
âYou will not erase us.â
âWe are about our heritage. Not just us Virginians. Not just as Southerners. But as white people . . . weâll take a stand.
âYouâll have to get used to us.
âWeâre going to come back again and again and again.â
Then they began singing about Dixie.
They also chanted: âThe South will rise again.Â Russia is our friend.Â The South will rise again.Â Woo-hoo! Wooo.â
Officials with the Charlottesville police department did not immediately respond to requests for comment Saturday night.
Spokesmen for the University of Virginia did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The August march at U-Va. â with people chanting âJews will not replace us!â â touched off violence between demonstrators and counterprotesters the next day. A man drove into a crowd, killing one woman and injuring others, and two police officers who were monitoring the protests died when their helicopter crashed.
In the days that followed, several public universities denied Spencer a platform.
Last week, the University of Florida reluctantly agreed to allow Spencer to speak later this month, saying it had no choice because as a state institution, it must all expression of all viewpoints.
The university, in Gainesville, Fla., is charging the National Policy Institute, which Spencer leads, $10,000 to rent a campus facility and to provide security inside the universityâs performing arts center.