TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - Ku Klux Klan supporters and members began their protest on midday Saturday in Charlottesville to show their opposition to the city's plan to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee who led Confederate forces in the US Civil War.
Charlottesville City Council had voted to remove the statue of Lee, and rename Lee and Jackson parks to Emancipation and Justice parks respectively.
Some of the members and supporters of the North Carolina-based Loyal White Knights of the KKK were wearing Klan robes and carrying Confederate flags.
Some other members of the extremist group arrived armed, openly carrying handguns in holsters at their belts.
Their rally drew several hundred counterprotesters who were chanting slogans such as “black lives matter” and “racists go home,” drowning out the Klansmen's chants of "white power."
"I just want to say that they [the Klan] represent the past, we represent the future. We need to all realize they are violent, gun totting people, and we are actually standing on the side of protecting people's rights," Lacy MacAuley, a counterprotester, said.
A video showed that counterprotesters tried to stop the Klansmen from entering and leaving Emancipation Park, but police declared their protest “an unlawful assembly” and helped the KKK members.
Officers pushed through the counterprotesters crowed, using pepper spray and releasing three canisters of tear gas to disperse them.
According to officials, at least 23 people were arrested and three other people were taken to the hospital, two of whom for heat-related issues.
“We had close to 200 officers here from numerous jurisdictions,” said Charlottesville Police Major Gary Pleasants.
“People became violent, it was getting out of control quickly. I deployed the mobile field force, and I ordered them to deploy gas. They fired two rounds of gas and that slowed things down,” Pleasants added.
Source: Press TV