Law enforcement officers tasked with keeping the peace on Aug. 12 could find themselves monitoring both Charlottesville’s Emancipation Park — formerly Lee Park — and Darden Towe Park in Albemarle County.
Earlier this month, a group identifying itself with the Patriot Movement announced it had relocated a planned gathering in Greenville, South Carolina, on Aug. 12 to Darden Towe Park, potentially adding to the count of right-wing activists who will gather in the area next month.
According to an event organizer who goes by the name Chevy Love on Facebook, the 1Team1Fight Unity event is not associated with Jason Kessler’s Unite the Right rally, which is expected to draw a massive crowd of far-right ideologues and liberal and leftist counter-protesters to Emancipation Park.
However, posts to the event page and other online comments by organizers of the Unite the Right rally have linked the two events.
“We always say that this movement is bigger than any one of us,” Love wrote on the Facebook event page earlier this month. “It is in the best interest of the Patriot Movement that we move the event to Charlottesville.”
“Trust me, this isn’t a decision any of us wanted to make, but one that needed to be made …”
On Twitter, Kessler, the self-described pro-white activist organizing the Unite the Right rally to protest the city’s efforts to remove the statue of Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park, said the Patriots will appear at his event.
“What I mean is that our event convinced them to turn out to FINALLY stand up for white people,” Kessler wrote on Twitter.
Kessler did not respond to requests for an interview.
In another post to the 1Team1Fight event page, in response to questions about why the organizers had decided to move the event some 370 miles from its original location, Love alluded to the Unite the Right rally.
“The event that was taking place in Greenville, SC has been moved to VA due to circumstances there on the same day,” she said. “We will be in VA in case our brothers and sisters need boots on the ground who can mobilize and reach our brothers and sisters at Lee Park in VA within 10 minutes.”
In messages to The Daily Progress, Love said her event is “not a rally,” and that it’s oriented for “a group of friends and family coming together for a day at the park.” She went on to say that the Unite the Right rally will be a gathering of “hate groups from both sides of the train tracks.”
“I do not stand for racism or anything like that,” she said. “Nor would I promote an event that has anything to do with hate groups.”
Love’s disassociation with the Unite the Right rally follows the recent departure of some who once associated with the event’s organizers and identified with the “alt-right,” a far-right movement that’s gained attention in the last year for its white nationalist and anti-Semitic leanings.
In recent months, some alt-right commentators and activists, whose main goal is the creation of a “white ethno-state,” have attempted to cast their less extreme allies derisively as “alt-lite.”
On Monday, the League of the South, a pro-secessionist Southern Nationalist organization supporting the Unite the Right rally, issued a statement about “weak sisters” disassociating themselves with the group because of its ties to the Nationalist Front and for continuing to expose “the Jew as an ancient and implacable enemy of our people and civilization.”
The Nationalist Front is an alliance of “pro-white” organizations striving for the creation of an “ethno-state for white people in North America.”
“If you don’t embrace a defense of your God, your people, and your land and are then willing to identify and fight our enemies with red tooth, fang, and claw,” the statement said, “then go find yourself a tame, housebroken ‘heritage’ organization or a debating society to join. You’ll be more comfortable there, and we will be stronger without you.”
In a tweet Monday, Michael Hill, League of the South president and a featured speaker for Kessler’s rally, said: “If you want to defend the South and Western civilization from the Jew and his dark-skinned allies, be at Charlottesville on Aug. 12.”
Despite the explicitly racist and anti-Semitic messaging that’s anticipated at the Unite the Right rally, Love said she and others in the Patriot Movement are simply Constitutionalists seeking to defend everyone’s right to free speech.
“We do have some people who are going who will be prepared in case violence does occur to help the police department. There will also be Patriots at the Unite the Right rally to do the same thing,” she said. “Although I do not agree with or stand behind what these groups are doing I do believe they have the right to free speech and the right to protest.”
“All of us in my opinion within the Patriot Movement just want everyone to unite and work towards a better country for all of us, no matter race, creed or religious backgrounds.”
The 1Team1Fight gathering is expected to start at 10 a.m. The Unite the Right rally is scheduled to begin at noon.
An Albemarle official said the county has received a special event permit application for the 1Team1Fight Unity gathering, but has yet to approve it.
“County staff has requested additional information that must be provided before we can consider their special event request, all of that information has not yet been received,” said Lee Catlin, assistant county executive.
Hunter Wallace, a writer for the blog Occidental Dissent, which is supporting the Unite the Right rally, wrote a tweet Sunday saying he’s OK with another event happening before Kessler’s rally starts, particularly because it will divide the Antifa, or anti-Fascist activists, he expects will protest the two events.
“More people will come who worry about ‘associations,’” Wallace said. In another tweet, he said, “I know for a fact many of them will be in Lee Park.”
NBC29 recently reported that sources in the Charlottesville Police Department are expecting as many as 4,000 people in the area of Emancipation Park on the day of the rally.
In a statement to NBC29 last week, city spokeswoman Miriam Dickler said the police department soon will release an attendance projection. She said Police Chief Al Thomas also has been looking into the possibility of relocating the Unite the Right rally.
On Monday, the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library’s board voted to close the Central Branch across the street from Emancipation Park on Aug. 12. John Halliday, director of the JMRL system, said the decision was made in the interest of public safety.
The Gordon Avenue and Northside branches will be open that day.