WASHINGTON — A sizeable contingent of members of the far-right and white nationalists are expected to descend on a small US university town Saturday — and a fierce opposition front is uniting against it.
Thousands of white nationalists, including supporters of the Ku Klux Klan white supremacist group, and anti-fascist activists are expected to clash in Charlottesville, Virginia, a sleepy town planning to remove a statue of General Robert E. Lee, who led Confederate forces in the US Civil War.
Last month a few dozen Ku Klux Klan marchers gathered in Charlottesville to protest the statue’s removal. Though they were outnumbered by hundreds of jeering counter-protestors, images of the extreme right marchers — some donning the traditional white hood of the notorious white power group — spread worldwide.
This time the extreme right hopes to have a stronger showing thanks to the presence of various leaders of the “alt-right” movement that has been emboldened by Donald Trump’s ascent to the White House.
Dubbed the “Unite the Right Rally,” the gathering could mark one of the most significant demonstrations of its kind in decades, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors extremist groups.
But far-right demonstrators might have trouble finding somewhere to sleep: the apartment rental platform Airbnb has canceled a number of accounts linked to extreme-right views, in keeping with its non-discrimination policy.
Jason Kessler, who organized the rally, said on Twitter that the company’s move amounted to an attack on “free speech and civil rights.”