The crowd chanted “No Nazis, no KKK, no fascists in the USA!” and carried banners with slogans such as “Stop pretending your racism is patriotism”.
Hundreds of police, many on cycles, were deployed but no violence was reported. Large vehicles were positioned along with concrete barriers to prevent access to the park.
The organizers of the rally said that “misinformation in the media” was “likening our organization to those that ran the Charlottesville rally”.
“While we maintain that every individual is entitled to their freedom of speech and defend that basic human right, we will not be offering our platform to racism or bigotry,” the group wrote on a Facebook page dedicated to the event.
“We denounce the politics of supremacy and violence.”
The list of speakers for the free speech event changed a number of times in previous days. At times it included speakers who have been associated with the far right.
President Donald Trump has denounced the removal of “beautiful” Confederate statues amid a heated national debate about US race relations.
He tweeted: “Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments.”
“You can’t change history, but you can learn from it,” the president continued.
President Trump drew outrage by defending organizers of a white supremacist rally that left one person dead and dozens hurt.
The rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, supported by neo-Nazis and white supremacists, was in protest of the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, a general who had fought for the pro-slavery Confederacy during the Civil War.
The protest turned deadly when a driver ploughed into a crowd of counter protesters, inflicting fatal injuries on Heather Heyer.
In a series of tweets on August 17, President Trump said: “Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson – who’s next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish!”
“The beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!”
The recent removal of controversial statues, including some to leaders of the pro-slavery rebellion defeated in the US Civil War, has been the latest flashpoint in racial tensions across the country.
Critics say monuments to the Confederacy are racially offensive, but supporters say they are important symbols preserving Southern heritage.
On August 17, Maine’s Governor Paul LePage, a Republican, said that taking down Confederate statues is “just like” removing a monument to the victims of the 9/11 attacks.
However, relatives of Stonewall Jackson, a Confederate leader President Trump mentioned in his tweets, wrote an open letter to the mayor of Richmond, Virginia, urging him to remove the statue of their great-great-grandfather and all other Confederate statues in town.
Jack and Warren Christian, Stonewall Jackson’s great-great-sons, said removing the statues would “further difficult conversations about racial justice”.
“While we are not ashamed of our great-great-grandfather, we are ashamed to benefit from white supremacy while our black family and friends suffer,” the pair wrote.
“We are ashamed of the monument.”
Robert E. Lee V, the great-great-grandson of the famous Confederate general, also issued a statement condemning the violence in the wake of the statue removals.
Donald Trump’s comments came after a week of turmoil over his response to the violent clashes in Charlottesville.
The president was criticized for blaming both sides for the violence, but belatedly condemned the white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups on August 14.
During a heated news conference on August 15, President Trump backtracked and again blamed left-wing counter-protesters for the incident, too.
Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only black Republican in the upper chamber, said in an interview with Vice News that President Trump’s “moral authority” had been “compromised”.
“I’m not going to defend the indefensible… [Donald Trump’s] comments on Monday were strong. His comments on Tuesday started erasing the comments that were strong,” Senator Scott said.
“What we want to see from our president is clarity and moral authority. And that moral authority is compromised.”
White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon has attacked white nationalists as “clowns” as the fallout from violent protests in Charlottesville continues.
Steve Bannon once headed the right-wing Breitbart News, seen as both a major channel for nationalism and key in helping Donald Trump win election.
However, the former film executive told The American Prospect: “Ethno-nationalism – it’s losers.”
Questions surround Steve Bannon’s future, with President Trump refusing to say whether he still had confidence in him.
President Trump has reportedly been urged to fire Steve Bannon, who in his role has enjoyed direct access to the president and whose influence has been seen in decisions like the US withdrawing from the Paris climate accord.
At a news conference this week, President Trump would only say “we’ll see” when it came to Steve Bannon’s future.
Donald Trump is under fire for his response to August 12 clashes between far-right and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which he blamed “both sides” for the violence.
The rally, attended by neo-Nazis and white supremacists, was in protest at the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, a general who fought for the pro-slavery Confederacy during the US Civil War.
A memorial was held on August 16 for Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old woman killed when a suspected far-right sympathizer drove a car into a crowd of counter-protesters.
Meanwhile Apple CEO Tim Cook has become the latest business leader to criticize President Trump, saying he did not agree there was a “moral equivalence” between white supremacists and “those who oppose them”.
In his interview with The American Prospect, Steve Bannon was asked if there was a connection between the economic nationalism that he supports and the white nationalism seen in Charlottesville.
“Ethno-nationalism – it’s losers,” he said.
“It’s a fringe element. I think the media plays it up too much, and we gotta help crush it, you know, uh, help crush it more.”
“These guys are a collection of clowns,” he added.
Steve Bannon has distanced himself from “ethno-nationalism” before, telling the New York Times his interest in nationalism stems from wanting to curb the negative effects of globalization.
Tim Cook has become the latest chief executive to criticize President Donald Trump over his response to the white nationalist rallies in Virginia.
The Apple boss said he did not agree there was a “moral equivalence” between white supremacists and “those who oppose them”.
President Trump has disbanded two business councils after top bosses resigned.
Tim Cook said Apple will also make donations to human rights charities.
In an email to staff obtained by BuzzFeed News, Tim Cook said: “I disagree with the president and others who believe that there is a moral equivalence between white supremacists and Nazis, and those who oppose them by standing up for human rights.
“Equating the two runs counter to our ideals as Americans.”
Tim Cook added that “in the wake of the tragic and repulsive events in Charlottesville, we are stepping up to help organizations who work to rid our country of hate”.
Apple will donate $1 million to both the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League. It will also match two-for-one any staff donations to these and several other human rights groups until September 30, the Apple boss said.
On August 16, Presidnet Trump said he was scrapping two business councils after more bosses quit over his handling of the violent clashes in Virginia.
Business leaders left the White House manufacturing council after the backlash against how he reacted to the far-right rally last weekend.
The clashes culminated in Heather Heyer’s death and 19 wounded when a car ploughed into a crowd of anti-fascist protesters.
President Trump’s reaction has sparked outrage and generated global headlines.
His announcement on Twitter came as the heads of 3M, Campbell Soup, Johnson & Johnson and United Technologies announced their resignations on August 16.
President Trump said: “Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both.”
Before Donald Trump’s announcement, the Strategy and Policy Forum announced it was a joint decision to disband the council.
Businesses have been under pressure to distance themselves from President Trump over his handling of the clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia.
On August 14, President Trump belatedly condemned the white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups that rallied in a small Virginia town on August 13.
However, in a rancorous news conference on August 15, the president backtracked and again blamed left-wing counter-protesters for the violence too.
On August 16, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, a member of the Strategy and Policy Forum, released a separate statement saying he strongly disagreed with President Trump’s recent statements, adding that “fanning divisiveness is not the answer”.
“Constructive economic and regulatory policies are not enough and will not matter if we do not address the divisions in our country. It is a leader’s role, in business or government, to bring people together, not tear them apart,” he said.
Denise Morrison of Campbell Soup said she could not continue to participate in the advisory panel after President Trump’s comments. Activists had called on Campbell Soup, among other firms, to take action.
President Donald Trump has again blamed both sides for the violent unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia, which left Heather Heyer dead and 19 others injured.
In a statement on August 14, the president had condemned white supremacists.
However, in New York on August 15, Donald Trump also blamed left-wing supporters for charging at the “alt-right”.
The president’s latest comments drew swift criticism, including from many in his Republican party.
Many echoed Senator John McCain’s view: “There is no moral equivalency between racists & Americans standing up to defy hate & bigotry.”
The right-wing march had been organized to protest against the proposed removal of a statue of General Robert E. Lee, who commanded the pro-slavery Confederate forces during the American Civil War. The event drew white supremacy groups.
Violence broke out after they were confronted by anti-racism groups. A car ploughed into one group of anti-racism protesters, killing Heather Heyer, 32, and injuring 19 others.
Speaking at the White House on August 14, President Trump had said that the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and white supremacists were “repugnant” to everything Americans held dear.
However, at a bad-tempered press conference at Trump Tower on August 15, Donald Trump reverted to blaming “many sides” for August 12 violence.
“You had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that, but I’ll say it right now,” he said.
“What about the alt-left that came charging… at the, as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt? (…) There are two sides to a story.”
President Trump called the driver of the car that ploughed into the anti-racism protesters a disgrace to himself and his country, but said that those who had marched in defense of the statue had included “many fine people”.
He also asked whether statues of former presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson should also be torn down, because they had been slave-owners.
President Trump’s remarks were welcomed by David Duke, a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, who tweeted: “Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa.”
President Donald Trump has spoken out against racist violence after the killing of a protester in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12.
He told reporters: “Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs.”
President Trump said the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and white supremacists were “repugnant” to everything Americans held dear.
He was criticized for not specifically denouncing extremists in his initial comments on the violence.
Heather Heyer, 32, died and 19 others were injured when a car rammed into people protesting against a far-right march.
On August 14, James Alex Fields, 20, was formally charged with second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and one count of hit and run. He was also denied bail during his appearance in court via video from jail.
Governor McAuliffe told a press conference: “I have a message for all the white supremacists, and the Nazis who came into Charlottesville today. Our message is plain and simple: Go home. You are not wanted in this great commonwealth. Shame on you. You pretend that you’re patriots, but you are anything but a patriot.
“You came here today to hurt people. And you did hurt people. But my message is clear: We are stronger than you.”
The Democrat governor said he had spoken to President Donald Trump, and twice urged him to begin a movement to bring people together.
Terry McAuliffe thanked the police and law enforcement officials, who he said had prevented “a much worse day”, and praised the emergency services who helped the wounded.
The violence in Charlottesville – a liberal college town – is a stark demonstration of the growing political divide in the United States, which has intensified since President Trump’s election last year.
Right-wing blogger Jason Kessler had called for a “pro-white” rally, and white nationalists promoted the gathering widely.
Oren Segal, director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, said several “white power” groups were present – including neo-Nazis and factions of the Ku Klux Klan.
The New York Times reports that some were chanting “You will not replace us,” and “Jew will not replace us.”