On the night before the “Unite the Right” rally, several hundred with the alt-right, including white nationalist, white supremacist, and neo-Nazi groups, attended a previously unannounced torchlit march through the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Jason Kessler, organizer of the “Unite the Right” rally, told reporters the event was a symbolic act, in solidarity with white people being “smeared” and “defamed” across the US and Europe. A sea of tiki torches suddenly overtook UVA, as hundreds were marshaled through campus with thunderous chants including “blood and soil, “one people, one nation, end immigration,” and “you will not replace us.”

Toward the end, the alt-right completely enveloped a small counter-protest organized by UVA students at the foot of a Thomas Jefferson statue. Vastly outnumbered, the torch march encroached on the few dozen student protesters until tensions boiled over into clashes. One person was arrested.

News2Share’s Ford Fischer speaks to Jason Kessler about his motivation to lead Friday’s UVA torch rally.

“If the ACLU was not successful today and the Charlottesville city government was allowed to deny our constitutional first amendment rights, we might be in a different situation than we are today,” he said. “This is an unfinished story. It’s a developing story. As of today, the constitution was upheld, and the people who founded this country have a chance to take it back.”

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Photos by Alejandro Alvarez: