Ku Klux Klan Virginia rally sparks clashes as rival protesters are tear-gassed

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Ku Klux Klan supporters shouting “white power” marched through a US town – but were outnumbered by hundreds of anti-racist protesters.

The white supremacists held an authorised march through Charlottesville in Virginia in protest at a plan to remove a statue honouring pro-slavery Confederate figure General Robert E Lee.

Police were deployed to the town as KKK members wearing white sheets and carrying Confederate flags were separated from rival groups by metal barricades.

Rival protesters chanted “racists go home” and “shame” during the demonstration.

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


White supremacists during the rally in Virginia (REUTERS)

Authorities said the counter-protests were “unlawful” and used tear gas to disperse crowds. Twenty-three people were arrested, but officials could not confirm their affiliations.

In February, the Charlottesville City Council voted 3-2 to remove the statue from one of its parks and make plans for a new memorial to remember the southern city’s enslaved population. At least one person who participated in the Klan rally against the statute removal could be seen with a holstered pistol.

Confederacy statues and flags have been removed from public spaces across the United States since 2015, after a white supremacist murdered nine black parishioners at a South Carolina church.

Critics of the monuments say they foster racism by celebrating leaders of the Confederacy in the pro-slavery South during the U.S. Civil War. Supporters say they represent an indelible part of U.S. history and part of regional heritage.

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