More than 100 people gathered at a Charlottesville city park Sunday for a rally on the anniversary of the clashes in Charlottesville that left three people dead — the start of the protests and rallies in the Virginia city and Washington, D.C., where participants of the “white civil rights rally” is expected to be met with groups of counterprotesters.
Protesters and police officers clashed on the street where 32-year-old Heather Heyer was killed a year ago during the violent Charlottesville demonstrations between the white nationalists and counterprotesters. A memorial also sits on the street, which has been renamed in honor of Heyer.
The demonstrators, who gathered in Washington Park earlier in the morning, marched to “Heather Heyer Way” about a mile away. Some marched while linking arms.
Chants such as “Old Jim Crow, new Jim Crow, this racist system has got to go” and “cops and Klan go hand in hand” were heard from the group. Police officers on motorcycles were seen moving behind the demonstrators, a sign of the increased security in the city to prevent another violent and deadly day.
In Washington, D.C., counterprotesters gathered in Lafayette park across the street from the White House ahead of the “white civil rights rally,” a demonstration by the white nationalists.
The event was organized by Jason Kessler, the principal leader of last year’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville that drew hundreds of white nationalists to protest the city’s decision to remove a monument to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a park.
Last year’s events escalated when a man plowed into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing Heyer. Two state troopers also were killed when their police helicopter crashed.
Kessler wrote in his permit application that he expects 100 to 400 people to turn out for the rally in front of the White House on Sunday. He initially tried to stage a similar event in Charlottesville, but later abandoned the idea.
Some leading figures in the U.S. white nationalist movement have said they won’t attend or have encouraged supporters to stay away.
The “white civil rights rally” is expected to also draw counterprotests throughout the city. The National Park Service issued permits for events by DC United Against Hate, New York Black Lives Matter and other groups, which could lead to more than 1,500 participants.
President Trump marked the anniversary earlier Saturday, saying in a tweet: “The riots in Charlottesville a year ago resulted in senseless death and division. We must come together as a nation. I condemn all types of racism and acts of violence. Peace to ALL Americans!”
Demonstrations began on Saturday in Charlottesville where more than 200 protesters, including students and anti-fascists, took to the streets amid heavy police presence. The high security incited anger in many protesters who questioned why they were surrounded by police in riot gear compared to last year’s events.
“Why are you in riot gear? We don’t see no riot here,” activists chanted Saturday evening.
Kibiriti Majuto, a coordinator for University of Virginia Students United, said the students moved to another part of the school’s campus because they didn’t want to be “caged” in the area of the planned rally. Majuto said police “were not on our side” last year when white supremacists surrounded left-wing activists on the rotunda.
Two people were arrested for disorderly conduct on Saturday, a city’s spokesperson said. NBC News correspondent Cal Perry also encountered violent protesters who attempted to grab the crew’s camera and hurled foul comments at them.
“F— you snitch ass b—-. F— you,” one protester screamed at Perry that was caught on camera.
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT BELOW
On Aug. 12, 2017, hundreds of torch-bearing white nationalists descended on Charlottesville for the “Unite the Right” rally. The event was met with a group of counterprotesters that led to fighting between the two groups. Authorities at the scene forced the group to separate until a driver sped into the counterprotesters.
Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, told The Associated Press that she has been dreading the anniversary of her daughter’s death for months. On Sunday morning, she plans to bring flowers to the spot where her daughter was killed.
Fox News’ Jenny Buchholz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.