Why is Charlottesville ground zero for white supremacists?

Why is Charlottesville ground zero for white supremacists?

White nationalist demonstrators walk into Lee park surrounded by counter demonstrators in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency and police dressed in riot gear ordered people to disperse after chaotic violent clashes between white nationalists and counter protestors. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

In a video posted by Spencer Saturday after the rally and before the incident, the white nationalist leader expressed anger at the police response to the gathering-- and pledged to return to the city of 46,000.

"We are going to make Charlottesville the center of the universe," Spencer said. "We are going to come back here often. Your head's going to spin how many times we're going to be back down."

In July, Ku Klux Klan members held a rally in Charlottesville in Justice Park, where they were met with more than a thousand upset counter-protesters.

White nationalist groups continue to return to Charlottesville partly because they saw the May torch light gathering as a great success, noted Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“They loved the imagery of that. They were over the moon about that,” she said. “They viewed it as having been a wonderful recruiting tool.

Brennan Gilmore, a former staffer for gubernatorial candidate Tom Perriello, witnessed and filmed Saturday's car incident and said he expected violence.

"The white supremacists came to town looking for violence and to provoke people," Gilmore said. "They billed it as one of the largest alt-right gatherings. There's no equivalency among these groups; it was a peaceful protest and a group of hateful ideology with a man that ran down those peaceful protests."

In New Orleans, where four Confederate monuments were removed, protesters threatened work crews so city officials removed three of the four under the cover of darkness. The final statue of Lee came down in May with no major incidents.



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