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Who Were the Groups Protesting in Charlottesville?

Cara McClure, of Birmingham, Alabama, cries during a solidarity gathering Aug. 13, 2017, in Birmingham for the victims in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Cara McClure, of Birmingham, Alabama, cries during a solidarity gathering Aug. 13, 2017, in Birmingham for the victims in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The posters advertising this past Saturday's protest in Charlottesville, Virginia promised to “Unite the Right.” The slogan acknowledges that white nationalist groups who oppose the removal of the statue of Civil War General Robert E. Lee from a park in the college town have different agendas and priorities.

Here is a look at some of the terms used to describe those present at the deadly rally, why they were there, and what they advocate.

'Unite the Right'

White supremacist
A person who believes the white race is inherently superior to other races. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit civil rights advocacy organization, says white supremacy is a historically-based system of exploitation and oppression of continents, nations and peoples of color by white people and nations of the European continent to maintain and defend a system of wealth, power and privilege.

Currently embraced by some white nationalists and white supremacists among others, the term describes ideologies emphasizing restricting immigration, strict law and order, limited government and the superiority of Western culture. Those described as alt-right do not necessarily agree with the basic democratic ideal that all members of society deserve equal rights.

KKK or the Knights Party
The Ku Klux Klan has a long history of violence and is considered by some groups to be the oldest of American hate groups. Historically black Americans have been the Klan's primary target, but the group has also attacked Jews, immigrants, gays and lesbians and, until recently, Catholics.

The third wave of KKK groups was founded by David Duke in 1975, the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan with the idea to put a different “kinder, gentler” face on the Klan. The group still believes that non-whites must conduct themselves according to Christian principles. They also sought to recognize that race mixing is wrong. “It will be a privilege to live under the authority of a compassionate white Christian government,” according to its website. The Knights Party, as they call themselves, say “in the years to come,” they will be recognized by the American people as the white rights movement.

Neo-Nazis or American Nazi Party
This group wants the union of all Aryans in North America. On their website, it says the Aryan population should be free in America and there must be “an all-White National Socialist America; an America in which our children and our grandchildren will play and go to school with other white children; an America in which they will date and marry other young people of our own race; an America in which all their offspring will be beautiful, healthy white babies.” The American Nazi Party states there ought to be a United States where all aspects our society, whether cultural, social, business or political, should be “free of alien, Jewish influence; an America in which White people are the sole masters of our own destiny.”

This term describes people who maintain the American Civil War never ended. They see themselves as members of a new Confederate Army still intent on separating the southern states from the union.

Traditional Workers Party
The Traditionalist Worker Party members believe in localism and secessionism. The group calls the United States “far too large, diverse, and infested with lobbyists and oligarchs for realistic solutions to come from a centralized, top-down approach to solving political problems.” The group wants transfer of power and resources from “the corrupt and unaccountable federal government” to “community and regional leaders who stand for traditional values, strong families, and revived cultures.”

Groups opposing the 'Unite the Right' demonstration

Black Lives Matter
The Black Lives Matter (BLM) guiding principle, according to its website, is based on working towards the “validity of black life.” The group was founded in 2012 after the shooting death of African American teen Trayvon Martin. The movement says it “goes beyond the narrow nationalism” and its fight for equality is not “prevalent within black communities.”

BLM says it affirms the lives of “black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, black-undocumented folks, folks with records, women and all black lives along the gender spectrum.”

Antifa groups lack organization and are considered not widespread throughout the country. The Economist reported lack of coordination among groups, along with the endorsement of violence, does not make Antifa appealing to a larger audience.

These groups are usually against everything that portrays or defends homophobia, racism, sexism, and sometimes capitalism. “But a defining characteristic of Antifa is that they aim to oppose fascism by any means necessary,” The Economist reports, including the use of violence, which can end up in violent confrontations with right-wing extremists and law enforcement officers.