Around 50 members of the Ku Klux Klan rallied in Charlottesville, Va. on Saturday afternoon in a protest in Charlottesville's Justice Park. The reason for the gathering was to protest the city’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and to support their Southern heritage.

What happened after the rally?

Some of the Klan members who came from North Carolina were dressed in hooded white robes and shouted “white power” in Justice Park. After about half an hour, they returned to their cars but a large group of counterprotesters followed them and did not let it go.

More than 100 Charlottesville and Virginia State Police officers arrived there and tried moving the protesters back to help the Klan members go. According to Charlottesville Police, more than 1,000 people attended the counterprotest rally against about 50 Klan members.

Miriam Dickler, a city spokeswoman, said in a statement that the crowd followed the Klan members through Justice Park and refused to disperse. Police had to use pepper spray and fire three rounds of tear gas before the people in a crowd followed their orders to disperse. She added that white nationalists were planned to hold another rally in a month.

According to Dickler, as a result of the day, 23 people were arrested and three people were taken to a hospital.

A city resident Candice Maupin claimed that they were standing calmly, but then heard loud noises and saw green smoke so their eyes "started burning.

The reason for protests

City officials warned the public to stay away from the place of the rally. They organized concerts and other alternative events around the city, but most people preferred to go to the rally.

Some months ago a real debate started about the attitude of Southern cities to reconciling themselves to the significance of the Civil War. Three months ago, the City Council voted to sell the statue. Many demonstrations with Confederate battle flags and banners were held in May to protest removal or selling the statue.

After getting the necessary documents, the circuit court judge filed a lawsuit in the city and forbade to remove the statue for six months.

Amanda Barker, a member of the Ku Klux Klan, said that people should be able to respect their heritage. The Klan members said that they came to protect the white heritage and history and argued that white people believe that they have no right to racial pride.