Conservative activists hold muted rallies
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[June 26, 2017]
By Julia Harte and John Whitesides
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Conservative
activists held a pair of rallies in Washington on Sunday to decry the
handful of celebrities who have joked about violence against President
Donald Trump and to protest efforts to stop contentious speakers at
Both rallies attracted only a few dozen supporters, with nearly as many
counterprotesters at one of the events on the steps of the Lincoln
Memorial. That contrasted with recent marches that have filled U.S.
cities with hundreds of thousands of people protesting Trump policies
they believe harm immigrants, women and other groups.
Richard Spencer, an avowed white nationalist and founder of the
so-called "alt-right" movement, drew about 100 supporters to the rally
at the Lincoln Memorial, a monument to the president associated with the
end of slavery in the United States.
In remarks to reporters before his speech, Spencer said he was
disappointed with Trump's presidency so far, and was waiting for the
president to enact the policies he promised during his campaign.
"Where's the Muslim ban?" said Spencer, who following Trump's election
victory was filmed saying "Hail Trump" and drawing Nazi-like salutes at
a conference. "Where's the wall?" he added, referring to Trump's plan to
increase barriers along the U.S. border with Mexico.
As Spencer addressed the crowd, two protesters unfurled a banner in
front of him that read: "NO LONGER SILENT WE WILL BE HEARD."
Speakers led the crowd in chants of "Unite the Right," as
counter-protesters heckled from the sidelines.
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A masked demonstrator in a Donald Trump "Make America Great Again"
hat wipes his brow as self proclaimed "White Nationalists", white
supremacists and members of the "Alt-Right" gather for what they
called a "Freedom of Speech" rally at the Lincoln Memorial in
Washington, U.S. June 25, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
A short distance away in front of the White House, Trump supporters
gathered to denounce celebrities such as the comedian Kathy Griffin
and the actor Johnny Depp, who have both made joking allusions to
Trump being assassinated. Both celebrities have apologized.
Among the scheduled speakers was Michael Flynn Jr., the son of
retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, who briefly served as
Trump's national security adviser before being fired, and Roger
Stone, a longtime Trump adviser. Stone withdrew, citing security
Speakers at the rally said they were also angered by a recent
production of Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" in New York City's
Central Park for its portrayal of the assassinated Roman ruler as a
Trump-like blond populist in a business suit.
"We're here for peace," Jack Posobiec, a prominent alt-right
activist, told a few dozen supporters at the rally. He said the
examples of Griffin and Depp showed the left was "normalizing"
violence against the right.
"It needs to stop," he said.
(Writing by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Andrew Hay)
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