BIRMINGHAM, AL — Organizers behind last weekend’s White Nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia say the event, which led to rioting, one death and dozens more injured, was just the beginning and that they have plan on pulling back their efforts, despite President Trump’s call on Monday for a federal crackdown.
The University of Florida confirmed on Monday that “white rights” leader Richard Spencer has sought permission to speak there next month. Also on Monday, white nationalist Preston Wiginton said he is planning a “White Lives Matter” rally at Texas A&M University to be held sometime in September.
“We’re going to be more active than ever before,” Matthew Heimbach, a leader in the white nationalist movement, said Monday.
Violence at the event erupted on Saturday after James Alex Fields Jr. was charged with killing a woman by driving his car into a group of counter-protesters at the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Fields, 20, was held without bail on murder charges. Before the attack Fields was photographed at the rally wearing a shield bearing the emblem of the white nationalist Vanguard America, though the group has denied that he was a member.
“It was probably the scariest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Robert Armengol, who was on scene for a live podcast he hosts with students at the University of Virginia. “After that it was pandemonium. The car hit reverse and sped and everybody who was up the street in my direction started running.”
Speaking at the White House, President Donald Trump on Monday condemned the violence and vowed “swift” federal response.
“Racism is evil,” Trump said at the White House. “And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
“I just met with FBI director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The Department of Justice has opened a civil-rights investigation into the deadly car attack that killed one innocent American and wounded 20 others,” the president added. “To anyone who acted criminally in this weekend’s racist violence, you will be held accountable. Justice will be delivered.”
Despite the president’s condemnation of the event, Jeff Schoep, director of the White Nationalist movement said Charlottesville praised the efforts of the protesters, but also condemned the violence that occurred at the rally. “Any time someone loses their life it’s unfortunate,” he said.
Schoep went on to say that inadequate police protection and counter-demonstrators were to blame for the violence and that white nationalists will not be deterred from planning future demonstrations or their efforts to preserve their southern heritage.
“It’s an assault on American freedoms. Today it’s Confederate monuments. Tomorrow it may be the Constitution or the American flag,” Schoep said.