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Torch-wielding white nationalists give Nazi salutes during University of Virginia protest

Anger at planned removal of statue honouring Confederate general Robert E Lee

Jon Sharman
Saturday 12 August 2017 11:27 BST
White nationalist protesters carried torches and performed Nazi salutes at the University of Virginia
White nationalist protesters carried torches and performed Nazi salutes at the University of Virginia (@RealAlexRubi)

A white nationalist protest descended into violence as torch-wielding demonstrators clashed with counter-protesters at the University of Virginia.

Far-right protesters shouting the Nazi-linked phrase "blood and soil" marched through the university's Charlottesville campus on Friday night, the day before a large nationalist gathering was planned in the centre of the city.

They encircled a group of counter-demonstrators at a statue of Thomas Jefferson, the NY Daily News reported, and violence broke out on both sides.

Some were pictured giving Nazi salutes.

Police broke up the clashes and at least one person was reportedly arrested.

Charlottesville's mayor, Mike Signer, said: "When I think of torches, I want to think of the Statue of Liberty.

"When I think of candlelight, I want to think of prayer vigils. Today, in 2017, we are instead seeing a cowardly parade of hatred, bigotry, racism and intolerance march down the lawns of the architect of our Bill of Rights.

"I am beyond disgusted by this unsanctioned and despicable display of visual intimidation on a college campus."

Saturday's "unite the right" gathering is intended as a protest against the removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E Lee.

The National Guard has been placed on standby in case of further violence.

The removal of monuments, flags and other memorials to the old southern Confederacy has provoked outrage among some conservatives in the region.

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