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‘Unite the Right 2’: Here’s what to expect as white nationalists, counterprotesters gather on Sunday

Lafayette Square. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/bpperry)

WASHINGTON — Sunday will mark the one-year anniversary of the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, a white nationalist event in which a counterprotester was killed and two Virginia State Police troopers died in a helicopter crash.

After failing to get approval for a similar event this year in Charlottesville, organizer Jason Kessler has turned his attention to the nation’s capital.

“Unite the Right 2” is set to be held Sunday evening near the White House. As with last year’s event, a strong counterprotest is expected, and preparations are underway to ensure safety.

Here’s what residents and visitors to the area can expect.

When and where

Unite the Right 2: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Lafayette Square, according to the event’s public web page.

Counterprotests: Sunday afternoon and evening, around Freedom Plaza, McPherson Square, Farragut Square and Lafayette Square. (One is planned for the 900 block of 16th Street Northwest, not far from Lafayette.) A march from Freedom Plaza to Lafayette Square is also planned, which will probably impact traffic in the area.

NOTE: Informal counterprotests are possible in the area as well.

How many

It remains unclear how many protesters and counterprotesters will be on hand. The National Park Service has issued six permits — one for Kessler’s event and five for the counterprotests.

  • Kessler’s white nationalist group, with an estimated 100 to 400 participants, received their permit Thursday to hold their rally in Lafayette Square.
  • One counterprotesting group — DC United Against Hate (estimated 1,000 participants) — received a permit Wednesday evening. They will assemble in Freedom Plaza and march to Lafayette Square.
  • Another counterprotesting group, the ANSWER Coalition, received a permit on Thursday. They anticipate around 1,500 counterprotesters in Lafayette Square, 500 in Farragut Square and 500 in McPherson Square.
  • A permit was issued Friday to Thomas Oh, the Republican candidate for Virginia’s 8th District. He will host a counterprotest northeast of the Lincoln Memorial, and he anticipates up to 100 participants.
  • New York Black Lives Matter received a permit Friday as well to hold a rally Sunday in the area northeast of the Lincoln memorial. They anticipate 200 to 300 participants.
  • Also receiving a permit Friday: A fifth counterprotest, during which a “Confederate/Nazi” flag will be burned in the northwest portion of Lafayette Square. Five participants are anticipated for the event.

(See map below for additional details.)

Leadup to ‘Unite the Right 2’

According to its public web page, “Unite the Right 2” participants are planning to assemble at the Vienna Metro station 2 to 3 p.m. Sunday. (In a statement Thursday, Fairfax County police said the department will have an enhanced presence at the Vienna Metro station from noon to 10 p.m.)

From there, participants will go to Foggy Bottom in D.C., then march to Lafayette Square.

(Please note that the main entrance to George Washington University Hospital next to the Metro will be closed on Saturday and Sunday.)

Metro

The protests come as Metro begins a partial shutdown of the Blue Line and a service reduction on the Silver and Orange lines. Work continues on the Red Line, too, with the Brookland and Rhode Island Avenue stations closed through Sept. 3 and no train service between the Fort Totten and NoMa-Gallaudet stations.

Even though there are no plans to provide a “special train” for participants, Metro is coordinating with other authorities to ensure that Metro riders are kept safe.

Anticipated road closures


Areas that D.C. police expect to be impacted by full or rolling road closures from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday include the following:

  • 15th Street Northwest, from Constitution Avenue to K Street Northwest
  • 17th Street Northwest, from Constitution Avenue to K Street Northwest
  • 18th Street Northwest, from E Street to Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
  • 19th Street Northwest, from E Street to Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
  • 20th Street Northwest, from E Street to Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
  • 21st Street Northwest, from E Street to Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
  • 22nd Street Northwest, from E Street to Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
  • 23rd Street Northwest, from Virginia Avenue to Washington Circle Northwest
  • H Street Northwest, from 17th Street to 15th Street Northwest
  • I Street Northwest, from 17th Street to 15th Street Northwest
  • K Street Northwest, from 17th Street to 15th Street Northwest
  • Connecticut Avenue Northwest, from H Street to I Street Northwest
  • Vermont Avenue Northwest, from H Street to I Street Northwest
  • G Street Northwest, from 17th Street to 23rd Street Northwest
  • F Street Northwest, from 17th Street to 23rd Street Northwest
  • E Street Northwest, from 17th Street to 23rd Street Northwest

Parking restrictions are likely as well for these areas, and the public should follow posted emergency no-parking signage, D.C. police said.

In Charlottesville

Last month, Kessler withdrew a request for a court order allowing him to organize an anniversary event in Charlottesville. But opponents remain uneasy, with fears of informal activities.

Various counterprotest groups have a variety of activities planned around the area this week, including a church “Service for Repair” and a student rally on the University of Virginia campus.


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