Protests erupt in midtown after deadly Charlottesville rally


Protesters anticipating President Donald Trump's return to New York City this week took to the streets of Manhattan on Sunday to denounce his response to the recent unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Holding signs that read "Call out Evil" and "No Hate. No Violence" dozens of protesters with the left leaning group Refuse Fascism marched from Columbus Circle to Times Square, demanding Trump disavow white nationalist groups -- including the KKK and neo-Nazis -- who have clashed with anti-racism protesters in Charlottesville.

As protesters made their way through Times Square, they chanted the name of Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old who was killed in Charlottesville after a driver with ties to the so-called alt-right movement plowed his car through a crowded street of anti-racism protesters.

"Say her name. Say her name. Heather Heyer rest in power," chanted a line of more than 100 anti-Trump protesters snaking their way through the crowded streets of Times Squares.

Protesters on Sunday criticized Trump for saying a day earlier that the violence in Charlottesville stemmed from "many sides." Citing Heyer's death they argued the white nationalist groups incited the violence.

"Did Trump call out these thugs, these murderers for what they are? No!" shouted Travis Morales, an organizer with Refuse Fascism, as he addressed protesters in Columbus Circle.

On Sunday morning, Trump tweeted: "Condolences to the family of the young woman killed today, and best regards to all of those injured, in Charlottesville, Virginia. So sad!"

Meanwhile at Trump Tower, a dozen protesters had gathered by 5:30 p.m. Sunday during a rally organized by Rise and Resist to stand in “solidarity with everyone who is fighting the recent resurgence of white supremacy,” according to a Facebook event page. The group aimed to gather at 58th Street and Fifth Avenue and march to Trump’s former home that evening. The group chanted, “No Trump, No KKK, No fascist USA.” 

"If you weren't shocked by what happened in Charlottesville last night there's something wrong with you," Bensonhurst resident Barbara Vaccaro, 65, said, adding that Trump's response has her hoping for impeachment. "I think [the protests are] just telling the world that not everyone agrees with Trump."

Three demonstrators were arrested during the rally, police said. It wasn't immediately clear what their charges were. 

After being directed off of the street in front of Trump Tower by authorities, Refuse Fascism joined forces with the Rise and Resist group to create a gathering of nearly 200 people circling 55th and 56th streets. Police had blocked off 56th Street between Madison and Fifth avenues near Trump Tower.

Joyce Mann, a 70-year-old Upper West Side resident, said after 50 years of marching for civil and human rights it’s “time to put an end to this.”

"I would have thought that we'd be done with this by now,” she added. "When does it stop?"

A third protest, organized by Indivisible and Democratic, Liberal & Progressive Activism & Socials NYC, took place in Union Square later Sunday evening, where nearly 200 protesters held signs reading, “My white power is love” and “Virginia is for lovers, not haters.”

Standing on the outskirts of a circle of people, Myra Scheer, 66, from the Upper East Side, said she's been protesting since the 1970s, and added that her heart hurts over what happened in Charlottesville. She fought back tears as she pondered the implications of still having to protest white supremacy in 2017.

"The way to fight this is with peaceful action," Scheer said, holding a sign that read, “Love trumps hate.” "It's so beautiful that so many people turned out across the country to send this message of love."

Saturday’s rally in Charlottesville began with demonstrators protesting the removal of a statue of a Confederate general. Heyer was killed when a driver rammed his vehicle at a high speed into the crowd, police said. Heyer was one of three fatally injured in connection with the rally. More than 30 other demonstrators suffered injuries, officials said. The driver of the vehicle was later identified by officials as James Alex Fields Jr., a 20-year-old Ohio resident. He faces second-degree murder charges.

With Meghan Giannotta and Alex Bazeley

 

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