Torch Wielding White Supremacists Chant "Russia is our Friend" in Virginia

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Torch-wielding white supremacists rallied around a Robert E. Lee statue slated for removal and chanted “Russia is our friend" in Virginia Saturday night.
The group surrounding the Confederate statue in Charlottesville’s Lee Park extinguished their torches and left as cops swarmed the street just before 9:30 p.m., according to the Daily Progress newspaper.
It was not immediately clear which group was behind the unsettling stunt but extremist Richard Spencer claimed that he was among the torchbearers after protesting at a similar rally in Jackson Park hours earlier.
The 39-year-old right-wing radical tweeted a photo of himself brandishing a torch during the rally. Charlottesville is home to Spencer’s alma mater, the University of Virginia. 
“This event involving torches at night in Lee Park was either profoundly ignorant or was designed to instill fear in our minority populations in a way that hearkens back to the days of the KKK,” Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer said in a statement.
“Either way, as mayor of this City, I want everyone to know this: we reject this intimidation. We are a Welcoming City, but such intolerance is not welcome here.”
The Charlottesville City Council voted to sell the 93-year-old statue of the Civil War general and to build a new memorial dedicated to slaves, the Daily Progress reported in April. The city also announced plans to rename Lee and Jackson Parks. 
A judge thwarted the sale for at least six months by issuing an injunction, stating that the statue is a war memorial. 
As photos emerged of the protest group at Lee Park, a Facebook page for the group suing the city of Charlottesville over the troubled statue quickly denied its involvement with the Saturday night protest.
“It has come to our attention that several out-of-town groups associated with white supremacy and (identitarian) beliefs conducted events and protests in both Lee and Jackson Parks today,” the group wrote.
“Neither Save the Robert E. Lee Statue nor The Monument Fund were in any way involved in these events and only learned of them though media reports.”
The protest comes as southern cities debate the relevance of Confederate tributes as some municipalities, such as New Orleans, have opted to remove at least two statues completely. 
The Louisiana city removed a statue of Confederate president Jefferson Davis to fanfare on Thursday. In Shreveport, residents debated removing or demolishing a Confederate statue of a soldier and four generals.

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