PROTESTERS in North Carolina have toppled a longstanding statue of a Confederate soldier in the latest counter-protest act against the white supremacist movement in the US.
Activists on Monday evening used a rope to pull down the monument outside a Durham courthouse. Video shared online shows protesters kicking the crumpled bronze statue as the crowd cheered and chanted.
“No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA!” the protesters are heard to chant as the monument is pulled to the ground.
The Durham protest was in response to Saturday’s white nationalists rally held in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The angry white men behind the weekend’s violent rally have claimed a “moral victory”, despite one woman having been killed at the event.
A disparate group of white supremacists, Neo-Nazis and alt-right nationalists converged on the city in the United States’ southeast at the weekend to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E Lee.
Violence quickly broke out between the “Unite the Right” demonstrators and counter-protesters, resulting in the death of Heather Heyer, 32, who was rammed by a car being driven by an accused Nazi sympathiser.
Despite the horrific turn of events, the men who were at the rally are emboldened, saying they are “proud” of the demonstration and pointing the finger at anti-fascist group Antifa for sparking the violence.
White nationalist leader Richard Spencer — who was pepper sprayed at the rally — said his followers came to “lawfully and peacefully assemble and talk” and he blamed police and the City of Charlottesville for overreacting.
“This was a great day. This was certainly a propaganda victory, a moral victory. I’m proud of everyone,” Mr Spencer said in a live-stream video posted after news had broken of the death of Ms Heyer.
Speaking down the lens shirtless due to being maced, he directed much of his vitriol towards Charlottesville mayor Michael Signer and deputy mayor Wes Bellamy, an African American who Mr Spencer referred to as a “house pet”.
“If you think that we’re going to back down to this kind of behaviour in your little provincial town. You think we’re going to back down? No! We are going to make Charlottesville the centre of the universe,” Mr Spencer said.
“We are going to come back here often. Your head’s going to spin [over] how many times we’re going to be back here.
“We’re never backing down. The fact that you treated us this way, the fact that you treated American citizens who are peacefully assembling this way is an absolute outrage.
“I have never been so offended in all my life … You think you won? You looked like complete fools.
“And we’re going to make even more of a fool of you when we’re back here because we do not give up.
“Our movement is about our identity and our future and we’re not going to give up.”
In a later press conference on Monday afternoon, Mr Spencer reiterated that the demonstration was a “wonderful event”. He also refused to condemn James Fields, the man accused of murdering Ms Heyer, because he believed he may have “unintentionally” run into the crowd after his car was attacked with a baseball bat.
Neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer was similarly triumphant, even after the death of Ms Heyer, telling Charlottesville demonstrators to go out and celebrate.
“If you’re at a bar in a group, random girls will want to have sex with you. Because you’re the bad boys. The ultimate enemy of the state. Every girl on the planet wants your d*** now.
“There will be more events. Soon. We are going to start doing this non-stop. Across the country … We are going to take over the country.”
“We showed that our movement is not just online, but growing physically … I think we did an incredibly impressive job,” he said.
Mr Spencer is one of a number of white nationalist leaders who have given voice to a legion of angry white men who feel that their status in America is being eroded by multiculturalism, feminism, global trade and affirmative action.
These are the sorts of anxieties Donald Trump and his strategist Steve Bannon exploited to great success in last year’s presidential campaign.
Key Trump policies such as the Mexican border wall, cuts to immigration and fierce opposition to political correctness are all red meat to this growing band of discontents, who have flourished online.
The myriad of groups that represent these views share the core belief — be it expressed explicitly or implicitly — that America belongs to white people.
They argue that Americans are not bound by the abstract concepts of freedom, equality and self-determination, but rather by their superior European racial and cultural heritage.
Mr Spencer leads the website AltRight.com and white nationalist think tank, the National Policy Institute, which believes that white people have been “dispossessed” in modern-day America.
The founder of the institute, William Regnery, said in 2005 that “the white race” was in danger of deteriorating from “master of the universe to an anthropological curiosity”.
Saturday’s rally was organised by a different group, Unity and Security for America, which holds similar views and largely argues for restricted immigration.
Members of Vanguard America, another anti-immigration movement, were also well represented at the rally.
“Our people are subjugated while an endless tide of incompatible foreigners floods this nation every year,” the group says on its website.
“If current trends continue, White Americans will be a minority in the nation they built.
“Our America is to be a nation exclusively for the White American peoples who out of the barren hills, empty plains, and vast mountains forged the most powerful nation to ever have existed.”
During the weekend rallies, the group chanted the Nazi slogan “blood and soil”, which celebrates race (blood) and territory (soil).
Other groups that showed up at the weekend include those who argue for a the South to secede from the United States for a second time (the League of the South) and a group that is in favour of racial segregation (Identity Evropa).
And despite the violent end to the Charlottesville rallies, these groups are planning another “white lives matter” demonstration next month in Texas.