On August 12, 2017, the “Unite the Right” rally, a white nationalist (supremacist) demonstration, was held in Emancipation Park (formerly named Lee Park) in the city of Charlottesville, Virginia. This tiny park is the site of a mounted statue of Robert E. Lee, a son of Virginia and the Southern general who commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the Civil War from 1862 until 1865. Early that morning, well before the scheduled start time of the demonstration, the white nationalists and a group of counter-protesters arrived at the park. Violence broke out in the park and the adjoining street, culminating in a vehicular attack on a group of counter-protesters, in the narrow street enclosed by buildings on each side, that resulted in the death of one counter-protester and injury to at least 19 others. This story has been covered by many news outlets and is not covered further in this post.
On August 25, we drove through the city of Charlottesville and stopped to see the site for ourselves. A few dozen other people were also there, somberly viewing the park and the few short blocks that had seen so much violence. The park was quiet and green, with a few benches where a very few people sat in the shade. The statue of General Lee on his horse was covered completely in black plastic. A few people walked into the park, looked at the large black object, took a few pictures, and left.
We walked down the street to the scene of the attack. The narrow street was completely blocked off at both ends by police barricades and squad cars.
A woman was being interviewed about the events near the top of the block. She was being careful not to step on the flower arrangements and hand-written signs laid on the sidewalk there.
About half way down the street, the floral tributes began to appear on the pavement, just where they were laid down as fresh bouquets, but now completely dried.
At the same place, the walls of the buildings were covered with tributes to the young woman who was killed, chalked on the wall as high as a person could reach, and covering the ground where flowers had not been left.
It seemed as if time had stopped. We and a few other people moved slowly down the street, read the tributes, observed the flowers, tried to capture with photographs what had happened less than two weeks before. After a few more minutes, we walked back up the street, got in our car, and continued on our journey.