Truthdig Photojournalist Heads to D.C. as Capital Braces for ‘Unite the Right 2’ Rally

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Truthdig’s frontline correspondent and photojournalist Michael Nigro will be reporting and livestreaming on the ground from the “Unite the Right 2” rally slated for Sunday afternoon in Washington, D.C. Below is his recap of last year’s rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he provided exclusive coverage for Truthdig, in addition to more information about the run up to the white nationalist event. 

This weekend marks the one-year anniversary of the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, a gathering of white nationalists where activist Heather Heyer was killed and 19 were injured after a car plowed into a group of counter-protesters.

After being denied a permit in Charlottesville for this year’s “Unite the Right 2,” organizer Jason Kessler obtained a permit for 400 people to march on the nation’s capital and then hold a rally in Lafayette Square, with the White House as a backdrop.

The permit denial in Charlottesville did not stop Ralph Northam, the Governor of Virginia, and city officials from declaring a state of emergency on Wednesday, leading up to the anniversary of the deadly rally.

Unverified reports of unsanctioned alt-right actions in Charlottesville have been shared over social media platforms. Some on the left believe there will be attempts to disrupt left-wing actions and memorials held for the 29-year-old activist who was killed by the car driven by white nationalist James Alex Fields.

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser, held a press conference on Thursday where she announced that Homeland Security has been activated to Level 2 and that every resource is available to ensure the District will be safe during the event.

Law enforcement agencies from the D.C. Metro Police, the FBI, the Capitol Police, Federal and State police from D.C., Virginia, and Maryland, Homeland Security and the U.S. Park Police, who have jurisdiction of Lafayette Square, will be monitoring the weekend event. The “Unite the Right 2” rally is slated to begin at 5 p.m. EST on Sunday.

“We welcome millions of visitors each and every year,” Mayor Bowser said at the press conference. “Very, very few of our visitors share the views that will be expressed in Lafayette Park on Sunday.”

“We have people coming to our city for the sole purpose of spewing hate,” she added.

“We have coordinated with the organizers of all the groups that are coming and established what the rules and regulations are in Lafayette Park, and what the expectations are,” said Chief of U.S. Park Police Robert D. MacLean.

“Come and be peaceful and exercise your first amendment rights. We will not tolerate destruction of property,” MacLean added.