A few weeks before violence erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia, Brendan Novak wrote an opinion piece in The Cavalier Daily arguing that “Unite the Right” rally organized by white nationalists should occur.
Novak, an editor at the University of Virginia’s student paper, now calls his statement wrong and naive.
“I figured, maybe naïvely, that allowing them to assemble in public under the scrutiny of daylight would galvanize public opinion against their hateful beliefs and reveal the rotting foundation on which their ideology rests,” Novak wrote.
Novak originally defended the First Amendment rights of white supremacists to protest, but he now says he’s changed his beliefs. He wrote:
“I defended the right of the alt-right to peacefully assemble, but they never intended for their assembly to be peaceful. They organized, applied for a permit and came to town with the full intention of inciting violence and agitating both the community and the national media … The alt-right is a domestic terrorist organization. Their use of intimidation, terror and violence in the pursuit of their goals more than justify this categorization.”
The “Unite the Right” rally rocked the Charlottesville community after protests became violent. A man identified by authorities as a white supremacist named James Fields rammed his car into a crowd of demonstrators, killing a 32-year-old woman. Two police officers also died when their helicopter crashed as they were monitoring the protests.
The rally was called to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a park in Charlottesville.
There had already been two recent Ku Klux Klan rallies in the city before this weekend.
Some students at the University of Virginia, which is located in Charlottesville, believe that white supremacists will return to the city to continue their protests.
“These people just don’t stop,” Mike Reingold, the editor-in-chief at The Daily Cavalier, told The Washington Post. “I really do think they’ll come back, perhaps in fuller force.”