White nationalists rally at Charlottesville statue for third time

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FILE-In this Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017, file photo, city workers drape a tarp over the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Emancipation park in Charlottesville, Va. Officials in Charlottesville  are trying to stop people from ripping down tarps that cover statues of Confederate generals. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

Workers covered the statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Va. with a tarpaulin after a violent white nationalist rally led to three deaths (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

A group of white nationalists, led by so-called "alt-right" leader Richard Spencer, held a torchlit rally at a tarpaulin-covered statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee Saturday.

WVIR reported that approximately three dozen people gathered in Emancipation Park, carrying tiki torches and chanting "you will not replace us" and "we will be back."

The Daily Progress newspaper reported that demonstrations involving fewer than 50 people do not require a permit and the park is open to the public until 11 p.m.

"While we prefer protesters get permits like any other event," city spokeswoman Miriam Dicker told the paper in an email, "such assemblies are protected by the First Amendment and we do not interfere unless we perceive a legal or safety issue.

There were no immediate reports of arrests or injuries.

Spencer dubbed the event "Charlottesville 3.0," a reference to two other rallies centered on the Lee statue. The first one took place on May 13. A second rally on Aug. 12, dubbed "Unite the Right," led to violent clashes and three deaths.

The rally drew condemnation from Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer and Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe.

After the August rally, Charlottesville's City Council voted to remove the Lee statue and a second statue, of Confederate Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. A lawsuit opposing the statues' removal is currently being heard.

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