KKK rally in Virginia leads to rival protests and clashes

Riot police protect members of the Ku Klux Klan from counter-protesters as they arrive to rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Charlottesville (Virginia), 9 July : A march by supporters of the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan (KKK) group in the US state of Virginia has been met by hundreds of rival demonstrators.

Dozens of KKK members took part in an authorised march to protest at the planned removal of a statue of General Robert E Lee from Charlottesville.

General Lee oversaw the pro-slavery Confederate forces in the US civil war.

The marchers, some carrying Confederate flags, were separated from rival groups by metal barricades and armed police.

The KKK supporters were escorted to and from the rally on Saturday by police.

Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets in protest at the KKK rally.

They were greeted in the university town by large crowds chanting “shame” and “racists go home” shortly after they had gathered at Justice Park.

“Police were deployed to secure access to the park and ensure the safety of all involved,” a Virginia State Police spokeswoman said.

Police declared the counter-protests “unlawful” and used tear gas to disperse the crowds. Several people were arrested.

Defending the Confederate flag and monuments that recall the era of slavery have become a rallying cause for both old and new branches of the far right in the US.

Protestors march as the police try to move the crowd after a rally by the KKK at Justice Park in Charlottesville.

Some observers argue that US President Donald Trump’s election to the White House has re-energised the far right movement across the United States.

In May, a torch-lit rally against the removal of Confederate monuments in Virginia was condemmed by a local mayor. More than 100 people attended a counter-protest the following night.

A rally in February 2016 ended with the arrest 13 peoples after a violent brawl between members of the KKK and rival demonstrators resulted in a number of stabbings in Anaheim, California.