Ku Klux Klan members gathered at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia on Saturday to express their outrage over the city’s decision to remove a monument of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, Reuters reports.
Earlier this year, the Charlottesville City Council voted 3-2, in a contentious public debate, to have the statute removed and add a memorial that honors slaves who once lived in the city, the Washington Post reported
Reuters said that during the protest KKK members—who waved Confederate flags, held racist signs, and shouted derogatory chants —were met and outnumbered by scores of counter-protesters who proudly held signage that condemned racism.
“I just want to say that they [the Klan] represent the past, we represent the future,” one of the anti-KKK protesters told NBC Washington.
The outlet reported that 23 people were arrested during the protest.
There’s been a lot of controversy surrounding Confederate monuments in Charlottesville. NBC Washington reported that the park where the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee stands, known as Lee Park, was renamed Emancipation Park by the city council in June. Republican Corey Stewart, who is considering a Senate run in 2018, held a rally earlier this year denouncing the city’s plan to remove the monument.
The debate about preserving Confederate monuments and symbols has been a nationwide issue. Last week, a Black lawyer named Carlos Moore petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to remove the Confederate emblem from the Mississippi flag, arguing that, as a symbol of White supremacy, it violates the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.