Justin Wm. Moyer and Michael Laris, Washington Post, June 25, 2017
A group of white nationalists and right-wing activists descended on one of America’s greatest venues for political speech Sunday — the area in front of the Reflecting Pool at the Lincoln Memorial, near where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of his dream.
Some on both the right and left had voiced fears of violence. But the National Park Service reported no arrests or significant incidents. Instead the day saw some speechifying, some counterprogramming, some counterprotesting and a searing argument about free speech and political correctness.
The Lincoln Memorial rally was headlined by white nationalist Richard Spencer.
Some in the crowd waved Confederate or green “Kek” flags identified with what is sometimes called the alt-right. More than one member of Vanguard America, a group that left white nationalist fliers at the University of Maryland last year, donned masks.
“We are people,” said Nathan Damigo of the group Identity Europa. “We have a connection to our race, our culture and our identity.”
The gathering, dubbed the “Rally for Free Speech,” was held as another group of conservatives Spencer criticized as “losers and freaks” held a competing event in front of the White House, seeking to distance themselves from Spencer’s racial rhetoric. Spencer had referred to them as “alt-lite.”
The second rally was emceed by conservative provocateur Jack Posobiec, who recently disrupted a New York production of “Julius Caesar” that featured the bloody slaying of a President Trump-like Caesar. Many participants argued that the recent shooting at a congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Va., was a product of left-wing rhetorical excess.
“We’re standing for an end to both political violence and violent rhetoric in the media,” said Posobiec.
Posobiec was joined at the rally by Corey Stewart, the chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors who narrowly lost Virginia’s Republican gubernatorial primary this month on a platform defending the state’s Confederate symbols and assailing undocumented immigration.
Stewart decried “the politically correct madness that is destroying our history here in this country.”
Informal Trump adviser Roger Stone, who was supposed to speak at the rally outside the White House, told the crowd by speaker phone he decided not to attend out of safety concerns.