‘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.

(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.)


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:

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.