Charlottesville, VA – A community can bounce back from almost anything – a natural disaster, or maybe an economic downswing.
But some things leave a mark, a deep wound, and for Charlottesville, a small town of some 50,000 accustomed to order and calm, the white nationalists who took over their streets last year – first in July, then on two consecutive days in August – dealt a blow.
If the “You. Will not. Replace. Us” chants bellowing from their torchlit faces wasn’t enough of a shock to the system, law enforcement’s inaction when faced with that aggression was. It led to more than hardship or hurt feelings: Heather Heyer, 32, was among those mowed down that day by a white nationalist who turned his car into a weapon by that day.
Coping mechanisms include taking a collective deep breath at a Presbyterian church service intended to restore troubled minds and hearts, spontaneous mini-vigils for Heyer, and community meetings where people show up wearing “CVille” and “Strength” t-shirts and buttons.
One year after year later, last year’s protests in Charlottesville, white nationalists are marching again – this time on the nation’s capital. People here are still reeling from what unfolded on their streets and how the nation – including President Donald Trump, who said there were “Fine people” marching for white supremacy – has responded.