Unite the Right in DC: What you need to know

As a group of white nationalists prepares to march on DC in its second "Unite the Right" rally, here's what you need to know.


Unite the Right, which means the "alt-right" or alternative right, is a group associated with white supremacy, white nationalism and neo-Nazism.

The group grabbed national attention during its Charlottesville protest last year as it wielded tiki torches and marched at the University of Virginia shouting "you will not replace us" and "Jews will not replace us," referring to their fears that white culture is under attack, and "blood and soil," the English translation of the Nazi slogan.

The main organizer of the event, Jason Kessler, is a white nationalist who graduated from the University of Virginia in 2009. According to emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, potential featured speakers for the event include David Duke, the former grand wizard of the Klu Klux Klan who made headlines in 2016 when he ran for the U.S. Senate in Louisiana, and Patrick Little, a prominent neo-Nazi and Holocaust denier.

Richard Spencer, a white nationalist and president of the National Policy Institute, a white supremacist think tank, spoke at last year's rally in Charlottesville.


The Unite the Right rally has requested to gather at Lafayette Park near the White House between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. on Sunday. Organizers said they plan to meet at Vienna Metro station and then they will convene at the Foggy Bottom Metro station where they will be escorted by law enforcement as they make their way down to Lafayette Park.

Recently, Metro said it will not provide private trains to transport the white nationalists after reports they were considering it sparked outrage on social media.

Four permits have been submitted for counterprotests nearby during the exact time the Unite the Right rally is set to gather at Lafayette Park. Authorities said the current plan is to keep the white nationalists and the counterprotesters completely separated from each other on Sunday to avoid any potential violent clashes.


In his permit request, Kessler said he expects up to 400 to participate in the Unite the Right rally, though the actual number of participants may be lower.

While the white nationalists are expected to turn out in the low hundreds, they are expected to be drastically outnumbered by counterprotesters, both permitted and non-permitted.


Authorities in the District have been holding meetings as they prepare for the event. DC officials announced several street closures ahead of the rally ad said parking restrictions will also be in place in the area. To see a full list of closures and restrictions for Sunday, click here.

On Wednesday, Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency ahead of the weekend's planned protests. Officials said the declaration would allocate $2 million in state funds and authorize the Virginia National Guard to assist in security efforts. Virginia State Police Superintendent Gary Settle said more than 700 state police will be activated during the weekend and "state police is fully prepared to act" to prevent any incidents like last year.


In Aug. 2017, hundreds of people traveled to Charlottesville to participate in the Unite the Right rally and protest the city's plans to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee from a park that was named after the Confederate general.

On the eve of the Aug. 12 rally, dozens of young white men wearing khakis and polo shirts marched through the University of Virginia's campus, carrying torches and chanting racist and anti-Semitic slogans. The next day, hundreds of white supremacists and counterprotesters clashed in the streets before a car plowed into a crowd, killing 32-year-old counterprotester Heather Heyer.

James Fields Jr., 21, of Maumee, Ohio, is charged with murder in Heyer's killing under Virginia state law. He is charged separately in federal court with hate crimes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.