The anniversary event for the deadly Unite the Right rally might take place in Washington, D.C. Or in Washington and Charlottesville, Virginia at the same time. It’s unclear who will attend, and the event’s biggest supporters are mad they will not be allowed to carry Nazi symbols this year.
The National Parks Service on Wednesday approved an application for white-nationalist organizers to hold a Unite the Right anniversary rally in D.C. on August 11 and 12, WUSA9 first reported.
The first Unite the Right, which took place in Charlottesville, was billed as a get-together of the racist right, including neo-Nazi, neo-Confederate, and pro-fascist groups. An affiliate of one of those groups killed one woman and injured more when he drove a car into a crowd of counter-protesters. The day’s violent turn has led some on the far-right to keep their distance from the sequel event.
Until this week, the anniversary rally didn’t have a confirmed location. Jason Kessler, an organizer of the first rally, applied for a permit in Charlottesville, but was denied. However, Kessler—an alt-righter who punched a man in the face in a mall last January and called his first rally’s victim “a fat, disgusting Communist” whose death “was payback time”—is suing Charlottesville in a bid to make the city reverse its ruling.
While that case was pending, Kessler applied for a permit to host the anniversary rally directly across from the White House. The National Parks Service approved the application, although it has yet to officially issue the permit. But Kessler told the Washington Post that, if he wins his suit against the city of Charlottesville, he plans on holding simultaneous rallies in Charlottesville and D.C. on the same days.
Kessler did not return a Daily Beast query on how two conflicting rallies would work. But even without the racists’ ranks divided, the second Unite the Right might see significantly fewer attendees than the first rally.
Last month, Newsweek reported that some of the first rally’s figureheads plan on skipping the follow-up out of fear of counter-protesters or further reputational damage. Some groups that attended Unite the Right have since become defunct, as was the case with the Traditionalist Worker Party, a neo-Nazi group that effectively collapsed under an intra-familial love triangle in March.
More groups, including the neo-Confederate group League of the South have signed a binding agreement preventing them from armed protest in Charlottesville. Identity Evropa, a white-power group whose founder was arrested and convicted after mayhem of the first rally, told The Daily Beast the group would not participate this year.
And some Charlottesville attendees who might participate in the anniversary rally accuse Kessler and his affiliates of being too anti-Nazi. “DO NOT bring unapproved items,” the Unite the Right 2 event page begs. “This will include weapons, shields, etc as well as ‘racist’ symbols.”
Some on the far-right took issue with the policy, including Chris Cantwell, a fascist podcaster who featured prominently in a Vice documentary about Unite the Right, and who became known as the “Crying Nazi” after he uploaded footage of himself weeping over anti-racist protesters.
“You don't get to choose what imagery shows up,” Cantwell complained on the white nationalist-friendly social media site Gab this week. “I specifically distanced myself from the whole Nazi thing and I am now the famous ‘crying NazI’ for a video where I specifically said ‘I'm not a fucking Nazi’. So when I got out, I changed my phone number to 424-3-GO-NAZI because ‘Okay! Fuck it! Nazi Time!’”