(CBS News) — A small group of white nationalists rallied outside the White House on Sunday to mark one year since violent clashes broke out in Charlottesville, Virginia. Members of the “Unite the Right” march in Washington, D.C., were heavily guarded by police as they were followed by hundreds of counter-protesters in Lafayette Square.
About 20-40 white nationalists turned out to the event. Jason Kessler, the organizer of the rally, said many people who supported the march didn’t show up because they feared for their safety. The rally was abruptly ended by rainfall just over an hour after it began.
Hours before the event kicked off, nearly 1,000 counter-protesters were already gathered in the area. They rallied, chanting, “no hate, no fear, KKK is not welcome here,” and carried signs that read “black trans lives matter” and “solidarity trumps hate.”
Meanwhile, Charlottesville was under state of emergency orders from Gov. Ralph Northam. Security was tight in the historic city and demonstrations were mostly peaceful despite four arrests in the downtown area. Northam set aside about $2 million for security costs, and more than 1,000 local and state police were assigned t0 deter any violence.
It was a stark contrast to the chaos of last August, when a white supremacist struck and killed activist Heather Heyer with his car. More than 200 people gathered at the city’s Washington Park to protest racism and remember Heyer. Many of them marched, chanting “never again” and “not in our town.”
A crowd of activists gathered with Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, at the site where her daughter was killed. Bro said the nation and the city have much more work to do when it comes to racism.e racial problem in our city and in our country. We have got to fix this or we’ll be right back here in no time.”
White Nationalist Rally Comes To An Abrupt End
5:25 p.m.: Rain brought an abrupt end to the “Unite the Right” rally Sunday. All of the white nationalists involved in the rally have left Lafayette Square. Police in Washington, D.C., announced via megaphone that “the group has left the area.” They are now asking counter-protesters to clear the area, but the large crowds remained outside despite the downpour.
4 Arrested During Charlottesville Protests
5 p.m.: Police in Charlottesville said they arrested four people in connection with incidents in or around the city’s downtown area Sunday.
Martin E. Clevenger, 29, of Spotsylvania, and Veronica H. Fitzhugh, 40, Charlottesville, were both arrested on one count of disorderly conduct. Police said Clevenger stopped to salute the city’s Robert E. Lee statue. A verbal exchange between Clevenger and Fitzhugh escalated and became physical, police said. They were both released on a summons.
Jesse T. Beard, 42, of Charlottesville, was arrested on one count of obstruction of free passage. Police said Beard deliberately positioned himself in front of police motorcycle units as they attempted to create a passageway for protesters. He was later released on a summons.
Chloe J. Lubin, 29, of Portland, Maine, was arrested on charges of assault and battery, disorderly conduct, obstruction of justice and possession of a concealed weapon, police said, adding that all of the charges are misdemeanors. Police said a state trooper witnessed Lubin spit in the face of a protester around 2 p.m. Sunday. During her arrest, police said she was in the possession of a metal baton. She was later released on an unsecured bond.
About 20-40 White Nationalists Attend D.C. Rally
4:21 p.m.: About 20-40 white nationalists showed up to Sunday’s rally. They were shouted at and taunted by hundreds of counter-protesters as they marched north of the White House at Lafayette Square. Several white nationalists told CBS affiliate WUSA9that people were too afraid to attend the event.
“We are not white supremacists, we are not nazis. You don’t understand where we are coming from,” one 21-year-old protester only identified as a student told WUSA9.
“Unite The Right” Organizer Speaks To Reporters
3:18 p.m.: Jason Kessler, who planned the “Unite the Right” rally, spoke to reporters ahead of Sunday’s event.
“I’m not a white nationalist. I’m a civil rights advocate–I’m focusing on white people because we don’t have civil rights advocates — a lot of people are not going to understand why white people need civil rights advocates but that’s going to be what my speech is about,” Kessler told CBS Washington, D.C., affiliate WUSA.
He declined to answer one reporter’s question asking why he denied being a white nationalist.
Kessler also called Heyer’s death a “senseless tragedy.” His Washington permit says he expects 100 to 400 people to attend the rally Sunday, the Associated Press reports.
Charlottesville Mayor Says City Still Healing
1:34 p.m.: Charlottesville Mayor Nikuyah Walker said her community has “absolutely not” healed one year after the violence. Walker told “Face the Nation” that the issues her city faced were “not the rally” or statues depicting figures of the Confederacy but, rather, “deep-seated racism.”
“Oh a year isn’t long enough. We’re talking about issues that have been going on here for centuries,” Walker said.
“That’s the challenge. And that’s a lot of work, and it takes commitment,” she added. “And while people don’t want alt-right white men in khaki pants and polo shirts, you know, walking through town, and they want to make it clear that they don’t identify there, they have been very comfortable with racism and how it plagues the community.”
Outraged by the local response to the violence last August, Walker ran as an independent candidate for city council but ended up becoming the first African-American female mayor of Charlottesville, taking office less than five months after the rally of white nationalists gripped her community.
Walker agreed that the images of a car plowing into a crowd of counter-demonstrators shocked the world because the small, Southern town of Charlottesville, the home to former President Thomas Jefferson and the University of Virginia, provided a stark contrast to the nation’s underlying racial tensions. In her campaign, she ran on “unmasking the illusion.”
“While it is Thomas Jefferson’s hometown, you’re talking about a president who enslaved people and built his empire off the backs of black people. So that’s the truth that we don’t want to tell, right? You’re talking about world-class university, but who is in that university? Who’s able to walk those grounds versus who built the university? That university was built off of enslaved laborers,” Walker said.
Sen. Tim Scott Says Trump Taking “Positive Steps” On Race
1:20 p.m.: One year after President Trump blamed “many sides” for the violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott said that Mr. Trump’s new condemnation of racism and violence in America is a “positive step in the right direction.”
Scott, the U.S. Senate’s only black Republican member, said the president’s Twitter message ahead of Sunday’s Unite the Right rally in Washington, D.C., marking the one-year anniversary of the clashes was a “positive sign of a better direction for the nation without any question.”
“The riots in Charlottesville a year ago resulted in senseless death and division. We must come together as a nation,” the president tweeted. “I condemn all types of racism and acts of violence. Peace to ALL Americans!”
In Mr. Trump’s first remarks after the clashes, he condemned hatred and bigotry on “many sides.” This was later revised after an outcry for not explicitly calling out white supremacists. He called racism “evil” at a White House press conference. Then Mr. Trump, for a third time, addressed the violence, placing blame on “many sides.”
It was a message that prompted Scott to call out the president on CBS’ “Face the Nation” last year, saying Mr. Trump’s moral authority had been “compromised.”
“I am not first a Republican, I’m first an American, and my goal is to make sure that each and every American has a chance to experience their full potential,” Scott told “Face the Nation” this year. “And that means sometimes you have to walk alone. Sometimes you have to say things that may not be popular and that’s necessary in the times in which we live.”
Sen. Tim Kaine Says Charlottesville Violence Spawned “Energetic Activism”
1:04 p.m.: Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine said a spirit of “energetic activism” has helped turn the tide in local Virginia politics one year after the violent clashes in Charlottesville. Kaine said that while the violence was “shocking,” people stood up and said, “We’re not going to let our state be defined” by hate.
“It was seen most directly in the Virginia elections in November of 2017. We elected a statewide ticket, including the second African-American elected to statewide office, Justin Fairfax. We elected- Democrats elected more members of the lower legislative house than in any year since the 1870s,” Kaine told “Face the Nation.”
“And who was elected? Of the 15 people that got elected with this energetic turnout, 11 of the 15 were women, African-American, Asian-American, Latino-American, immigrant-born, LGBT, transgender,” he said. “It was a real rainbow coalition of who the Virginia of today is.”
Heyer’s mother urges people “do not respond to violence”
12:50 p.m.: In an interview with CBSN on Saturday, Heather Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, urged people to “not respond to violence” during this year’s planned protests. Bro also said the anniversary of her daughter’s death has been an “emotional roller coaster.”
And she said it is “difficult to say” if America has made progress one year after the violent clashes.
“I think last year’s eruption — that infection gives us a little better understanding of how bad it is so that we can” gradually heal, she said. “If you rush to heal, if you rush to everybody grab each other and sing kumbaya, we will be back here in a few years.”
— Justin Carrisimo
(© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.)