When Unite the Right announced it would hold a rally across from the White House on the August 12 anniversary of its 2017 rally in Charlottesville VA, it caused a lot of consternation. Violence had permeated the 2017 event, resulting in the death of a counter protestor. Several organizations and coalitions announced counter-protests.
The Shut It Down DC Coalition set up its stage at Freedom Plaza.
People gathered in the heat and humidity to hear speakers for three hours.
At the same time the ANSWER coalition set up in Lafayette Square.
The National Park Service put ANSWER in the NE corner of the Square, and the rightists in the SW corner. Most of the park was blocked by barricades lined with police. Hours before the rightists were scheduled to appear, one couldn’t get within 100 feet of where they were supposed to be.
Black Lives Matter and cognate groups rallied on 16th St., above Lafayette Square before marching to the Square.
In mid-afternoon about 50 Antifa gathered at Farragut Square, a couple blocks NW of Lafayette Square.
As soon as they got ready to march, DC police materialized from nowhere.
Carrying a large banner that proclaimed NO HATE, NO FEAR, they chanted “Any time, any place, punch a Nazi in the face.”
A larger banner proclaimed “It Takes a Bullet to Bash the Fash”.
Antifa were met by police at the Pennsylvania Ave. and 17th St. entrance to Lafayette Square.
Antifa hoped to keep the rightists from reaching their rally area but they were already there. Police brought them there two hours before their scheduled appearance. Since they couldn’t hassle their intended target they took out their anger on the cops with chants, eggs, flares and firecrackers. By the time Antifa dissipated, the rightists had completed their rally and been hauled back to the Metro in three police vans.
The final tally: roughly two dozen rightists, protected by 200 cops, from around five thousand counter-protestors, which cost the taxpayers 2.6 million dollars.
Jo Freeman has published eleven books and hundreds of articles. She is currently finishing a history and memoir of working for SCLC in 1965-66. You can find her website here.