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THOUSANDS of US anti-racists demonstrated in Washington on Sunday to mark the anniversary of the killing of Heather Heyer by white supremacist James Fields Jr.
The giant demo dwarfed a Unite the Right rally summoned by Jason Kessler, the organiser of last year’s event of the same name in Charlottesville, Virginia, that ended in Ms Heyer’s death.
Just 20 people attended Mr Kessler’s “white civil rights rally” in Lafayette Square despite his prediction that several hundred would show up. The gathering was surrounded by jeering crowds as it marched for a mile under heavy police protection before being loaded into vans and driven away.
Black Lives Matter Washington branch rep Makia Green said the anti-fascists had rallied on a huge scale because “we know from experience that ignoring white nationalism doesn’t work.”
Participant Kaitlin Moore said: “We won’t tolerate hatred and bigotry in the United States.”
In Charlottesville, Ms Heyer’s mother Susan Bro laid flowers and addressed a crowd of hundreds who turned out to pay their respects.
“There’s so much healing to do,” Ms Bro said. “We have a huge racial problem in our city and in our country. We have got to fix this.”
Republican member of Congress for Virginia’s Fifth District Tom Garrett said at the weekend that Russia had been behind the violence in Charlottesville, claiming to have been told this in a closed session by the FBI.
Moscow was “seeking to pit Americans against Americans” by mobilising people over differences that were “minimal in the grand scheme of things,” he mused.
Local Black Lives Matter organiser Lisa Woolfork told CNN that the biggest difference between this year and last was the heavy police presence.
Charlottesville police have been blamed for negligence in allowing the fascists and anti-fascists to clash last year, but Ms Woolfork didn’t welcome the additional police, saying: “For folks like me, black and brown folks, we don’t equate a heavy police presence with safety, so we see this as a perceived risk and increasing the possible harm that might occur to us.”
Black people made up 23 per cent of the 987 people shot dead by police in the United States last year, roughly twice the proportion they make of the population.
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