News & Politics

The Neo-Nazi Rally in Charlottesville Was Even More Terrifying on the Ground

A harrowing new documentary gets up close and personal with white supremacists.

Photo Credit: Youtube Screencap

Amid the riots in Charlottesville, Vice News got a behind-the-scenes look into the white supremacist hate groups that organized against the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue—a scene that left three dead and at least 19 injured.

The 22-minute “Vice News Tonight” episode offered an on-the-ground account of the clash between white supremacists and antifascists, and most notably, the vehicle attack that killed counter-protester Heather Heyer. Moments after the car attack, Charlottesville residents were shown screaming and running after the car as it sped away, and shouting for medics as people tried to tend to victims as best they could.

Much of the documentary focused on Christopher Cantwell, a white nationalist member of Unite the Right, and a slew of his buddies, including David Duke, the former Imperial Wizard of the KKK, and Robert Ray, a neo-Nazi and the editor of Daily Stormer. Most of those interviewed openly advocate for ethno-cleansing and violence against people of color and Jews. Their rhetoric was explicit and harsh, including chants of “Jews will not replace us” and “blood and soil,” a re-appropriation of a Nazi axiom about German heritage.

There is no shortage of contenders for the most hateful scene in the documentary. Journalist Elle Reeve caught Duke in passing, who expressed his frustration over the cancellation of the initial rally. "[The government doesn't want to tell] the truth about the ethnic cleansing of America and the destruction of the American way of life," he explains.

“We’re not non-violent," Cantwell adds. "[But] we’ll f**king kill these people if we have to."

At one moment in the film, an organizer threatens authorities over the phone: “I’m about to send at least 200 people with guns to go get them out if you guys do not get our people out.”

“I’d say it was worth it,” Cantwell concludes, evincing no regret about the weekend's proceedings as he removes four firearms from his person. “The fact that nobody on our side died, I’d go ahead and call that points for us… I think a lot more people are going to die here.”

Jennie Neufeld is an intern at Salon, formerly a junior writing fellow at AlterNet. 

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