3 arrested at gathering denouncing Confederate torch protest

Signer issued a statement about the protests to The Daily Progress saying the protest was "either profoundly ignorant or created to instill fear in our minority community".

The demonstrators on Sunday night held candles - rather than the ominous torches of their rivals - so as to "outshine their torches with our love", the Daily Progress reported. Police said three people were arrested after scuffles broke out.

A monument to General Robert Edward Lee - the commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia during the American civil war - has stood in Charlottesville since 1924.

In recent years, a string of US Southern states have moved Confederate-era monuments to museums, an effort that intensified after a white supremacist killed nine black people in a SC church in June 2015. In February, Signer signaled his support of a plan not to move the statues but instead design new monuments that "add to history" and "challenge and transform" the Jim Crow legacy that some believe the statues represent.

Tom Perriello, a Virginia gubernatorial candidate, lashed out at Spencer on Twitter.

Charlottesville City Council voted in April to rename Lee Park and remove the statue of Lee from it, a decision that provoked controversy in Virginia. Earlier in the day, he addressed a similar demonstration centered around the statue of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson in nearby Jackson Park.

A group of residents have sued the city to keep the Lee statue in place.

A court injunction will halt the action for six months.

Meanwhile, protesters are converging on the city's parks. As a leading figure of the "alt-right", Spencer prides himself on protecting what he and his followers see as America's white heritage and pride. What brings us together is that we are white. "We have a lot of work left to do to counter generations of racial and economic inequality and injustice that have kept people from realizing the full potential of this community".

"You will not replace us".

His words, and the evening torch rally, were quickly denounced by residents and officials - both Democrat and Republican. "You can not destroy us".

Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer criticized the rally in a Facebook post late Saturday night.

According to Charlottesville Police Lt. Steve Upman, officers received reports of "suspicious activity" in Lee Park Saturday evening and arrived at the scene at 9:20 p.m. Protesters with torches were chanting "We will not be overcome", and were arguing with a man asking them to leave. "We soundly and completely reject racism, white supremacy, and any other identity based groups that preach division and hate no matter which side of the issue they happen to support". The Stewart campaign also sent out an email solicitation Sunday asking supporters to register to vote and donate.

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  • Larry Hoffman