White nationalists were met by counterprotesters in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, leading Gov. Terry McAuliffe to declare a state emergency. A car plowed into crowds, killing one person and injuring 19 others. (Zoeann Murphy/The Washington Post)

It was billed as a historically large effort to “take America back,” decades in the making. Hundreds of white nationalists, Ku Klux Klan members and neo-Nazis gathered in Charlottesville for a rally that quickly and frequently descended into chaos.

The demonstrators carried U.S. and Confederate flags. They held tiki torches and clubs and donned impromptu battle gear — helmets, clubs, sticks and makeshift shields. At times the “Unite the Right” rally was marked by peaceful marches and chanting. But often, neo-Nazis exchanged blows with counterprotesters in clouds of tear gas and pepper spray.

By the end of the weekend, three people were dead and many others had been injured.


Multiple white nationalist groups march with torches through the University of Virginia campus Friday. (Mykal McEldowney/The Indianapolis Star/AP)

Hundreds of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the alt-right march down East Market Street toward Emancipation Park during the Unite the Right rally. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

White nationalist groups march with torches in Charlottesville. (Mykal McEldowney/The Indianapolis Star/AP)

White nationalist demonstrators clash with counterdemonstrators at the entrance to Emancipation Park in Charlottesville. (Steve Helber/AP)

Protesters and counterprotesters clash during the Unite the Right rally. (Calla Kessler/The Washington Post)

A member of “The Militia,” armed onlookers who attended the Unite the Right rally to “keep the peace,” watches the demonstration. (Calla Kessler/The Washington Post)

John Rotalsky prays by the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Emancipation Park during the Unite the Right rally. (Evelyn Hockstein for The Washington Post)

White nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the “alt-right” exchange insults with counterprotesters as they attempt to guard the entrance to Emancipation Park during the Unite the Right rally. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

White nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the alt-right clash with counterprotesters as they enter Emancipation Park during the Unite the Right rally. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

White nationalist groups and counterprotesters clash during the Unite the Right rally. (Evelyn Hockstein for The Washington Post)

White supremacists in Emancipation Park prior to the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. (Evelyn Hockstein for The Washington Post)

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