All photos and text by Shay Horse
I knew the polo shirt wearing Nazis wanted to scare people and assert their dominance. Nazis aren’t known for their cleverness so doing the torch march in the exact same area as the one lead by Richard Spencer months prior made since. I eventually got a good tip about where it was going down exactly, Nameless field.
Shockingly the Nazis were apathetic to all of the journalists on the scene. They treated it like the spectacle they wanted it to be. Jason Kessler answered questions and the shot callers organized the march. Giving out marching orders and passing out tiki torches. As more poured into Nameless field the more of a frenzy they got into. It went from being quite to the marchers being confident enough to start taunting everyone that wasn’t them “Hey Jew want ten shekels?” “So which of the Jew media companies do you work for”? This was already getting scary, cops are one thing but Nazis are another. These Nazis are every frat boy that thinks the world is their oyster. These Nazis are the guys that everyone excused their behavior as “boys will be boys”.
As the Nazis took formation, they began to light their torches, assembled side by side and two abreast. The men on the sides were protection in case of an attack. They flowed into the campus chanting “you/Jews will not replace us!” You could feel the frenzy growing again, they felt powerful. They wanted a fight, now they were on the hunt for one. These guys went from just saying “no blacks or Hispanics” in their Tinder profiles to marching with torches.
They marched through the campus chanting and hyping each other further. Charging over segments of the campus to quickly get to the Thomas Jefferson Statue. Thomas Jefferson designed parts of the campus. It felt like a southern plantation. With white columns holding up roofs and wide spaces of greenery. The scenery and the chants of “Blood and soil!” Made this all the more fucked. I wish I could say this felt like falling into a time hold but it doesn’t. America has always been this. Boys will be boys and Nazis will be Nazis. This hate has always been just beneath the surface. These khaki clad bigots just feel brave enough now to show their true lack of color.
The torch wielders reached the Thomas Jefferson Memorial and saw the counter protesters surrounding the statue. There was maybe 40 of them and hundreds of Nazis. The torch bearing supremacists encircled them and chanted at them “White Lives Matter!” As the counter protester chants of “Black Lives Matter” were drowned out. This is not a metaphor. This was one of the scariest things I’ve ever fucking seen. This was white supremacy at full blast. The Nazis swung their torches and I heard them snap in half and fly. The air became putrid with the smell of pepper spray and bodies flying around the crowd. I only saw one person get taken down by the . The fact the police even bothered to show was the real shocker. The fact they cleared the area as if this was a drunken frat party was not. Boys will be boys.
Zach D Roberts and I rolled into the area around Lee Park around 11:30. It seemed weirdly calm. There was a chopper in the sky and strict parking rules. It felt like a parade. There were cops in neon reflector vests and road closures. Business as per usual. We walked into the park and it was already like a brawl from the 1930s. It was anarchists and communists in fist fights and armed combat with Nazis. It was like Lord Of The Rings with sticks and plastic shields. The two sides would charge at each other and swing and spray each other with pepper spray to end a fight. Clash and spray, clash and spray. This is not a metaphor. The Nazis on the hill of Lee Park would toss smoke grenades to try to scare the collation of leftist group that formed the makeshift Antifa present. Someone would always be quick to grab the grenade and toss it back, often trying to dome one of the Nazis on the hill. In one of the melees, a goddamn smoke grenade bounced off my head into a group of Antifa. Which quickly became a munition for them. Everything that wasn’t nailed down became a projectile for either side. Frozen water bottles, bricks, and news boxes all took flight. The news box thankfully was only gingerly tossed. A state of emergency was declared by the governor and the police decide decided to clear the park in their riot suits. Strangely, the police didn’t seem concerned with the Antifa. They decided to shove, poke and prod the Nazis into leaving. The police decided to force the Nazis down a single flight of stairs and the Antifa crowded around there to taunt and beat the Nazis that tried flee. Groups JV Nazis would eventually become brave enough to flee were met with a face full of pepper or a few jabs of flag poles.
The streets of Charlottesville became full of pods of Nazis and clusters of Antifa. Marching around the downtown area trying to find each other for the next clash. I followed behind one group of Nazis marching to a parking garage. By the time I got there Deandre Harris had already been beaten with sticks and poles. I linked up with Zach Roberts and Daniel Shular, it was only a few minutes before I saw Dan’s head move on a swivel. We saw a gray Dodge Challenger scream by. Dan ran to the street in a knowing way. Even the cops in reflector vests finally looked concerned. I followed with Zach as Dan ran the opposite way from the challenger, down the street it turned from. I heard screaming and shouting. I assumed the cops finally decided to do something and separate two groups from clashing. It wasn’t that kind of screams. I ran down the street and saw people on both sides of the street screaming at cops. Familiar sight but in a different tone. There were people laying in the street, some with gashes and a woman on the ground with street medics and newly arrived EMTs doing CPR. I asked someone what happened and they blurted out “a fucking car just ran over like twenty fucking people man”. I didn’t know it was Heather Heyer at the time but I watched the street medics and EMTs try to save her. The only time they stopped doing compressions was when they put her on a stretcher. They kept trying all the way from the spot they found her and even in the ambulance. I watched others being loaded into other emergency vehicles. Riot police came in to break up the crowd and to clear the intersection. Because that’s what they decided to clear the air with. A hundred cops in riot suits with pepper ball guns and clubs. Her blood was still on the sidewalk. This is not a metaphor.
The next day I was at City Hall with Zach. We decided to catch Jason Kessler’s presser. It was a vain attempt to try to correct the actual narrative. Jason Kessler eventually showed and was promptly drowned out by counter protesters. It was a musical assemblage of shouts of “Fuck you” and vuvuzelas. Kessler started speaking but only lasted about 3 minutes before someone came up and decked him. He ran to a flower garden and was jumped again. Riot police came in to rescue him. “Can you guys put me in one of your cars?” “NO, WE ARE NOT DOING THAT. WHERE IS YOUR VEHICLE?” “It’s about two blocks away” “THAT’S TOO FAR” a conversation Kessler thought he had in the bag quickly became like a middle school boy being taken away after playing too rough. The riot police firmly walked the junior white supremacist into a near by police station. Safe from cameras and the fists of counter protesters. The same police department that was about 80 feet from where Deandre Harris was beaten by other junior White Supremacists.
This is not a metaphor.