White supremacists were back in Charlottesville, Va. on Saturday night, once again chanting “you will not replace us” at the foot of a covered-up statue of Robert E. Lee. Infamous white nationalist Richard Spencer, one of the organizers of the Neo-Nazi rally less than two months ago in Charlottesville that resulted in the death of a woman, described the event as a “planned flash mob.” Spencer posted video on social media of the gathering of around 40 to 50 people, which he dubbed “Charlottesville 3.0.”
Although the group was tiny this time around compared to the “Unite the Right” gathering of eight weeks ago, Spencer emphasized that the white supremacists aren’t going anywhere and they’ll carry out other rallies like this in the future. “Our identity matters. We are not going to stand by and allow people to tear down these symbols of our history and our people—and we’re going to do this again,” Spencer told the Washington Post. Spencer and his band of white supremacists had also descended on the park in May for a protest that also gathered a few dozen people.
The brief rally made it clear though that the situation has changed for Neo-Nazis over the past two months. While in August they took their time to march with tiki torches in hand while terrorizing the city, this time everyone seemed to want to move as quickly as possible. The rally lasted only about five to 10 minutes before the group of white supremacists boarded a tour bus and left the city. “We got in and out, there were no injuries, no major confrontations,” Spencer said in a Twitter video. “It was a great success, and we’re going to do it again.”
Officials, however, hinted they’re exploring options to try to prevent a similar event from taking place in the future. Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer quickly denounced the rally on Twitter, calling it “another despicable visit by neo-Nazi cowards.” Police said attorneys are analyzing the situation to see whether there can be legal action. “Our department is conferring with city leadership and the Commonwealth Attorney’s office to determine what legal action may be taken in response to this event,” police said in a statement. Charlottesville Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy noted that the “white supremacists are using torches, fire, and hate speech to intimidate our citizens,” which is “a crime.”
On Saturday night though, police stayed on the sidelines, making their presence in and around the park known while not intervening. Demonstrations of 50 or fewer people do not require a permit in Charlottesville. “While we prefer protesters get permits like any other event,” city spokeswoman Miriam Dicker said in an email to the Daily Progress, “such assemblies are protected by the First Amendment and we do not interfere unless we perceive a legal or safety issue.”
The rally took place so quickly that counter protesters didn’t really have time to prepare. Some gathered later on Saturday but it was after the torch-lit rally had already ended.