The day after one woman was killed and dozens were injured after a man drove his car into a crowd during a gathering of the alt-right, Ku Klux Klan, and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, VA, thousands of New Yorkers gathered in Union Square to hold a vigil for those affected and to excoriate President Donald Trump.
"Hatred is not a Virginian value. It's not an American value," Virginia native Kinneret Ely, 27, told Gothamist. "Yesterday felt horrifying and sickening," said Ely, who is from Williamsburg, VA. "I felt so sick to my stomach. It hit me so close to home."
In speeches, chants, and homemade signs, demonstrators simultaneously denounced Trump's nationalistic campaign rhetoric and the white nationalists in his administration, and mourned 32-year-old Heather Heyer, a Charlottesville resident and activist who was killed in an ISIS-style terror attack Saturday when a driver rammed his car into a crowd of anti-racist demonstrators.
The man who police have identified as the driver, James Alex Fields, Jr., is charged with second degree murder and is being held without bail.
The Union Square vigil began late afternoon Sunday, with some choosing to remain in the park to hear speeches and songs while another hundreds-strong contingent set off marching through 6th Avenue traffic en route to Trump Tower. Three people from that group were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, obstructing government administration, and resisting arrest, an NYPD spokesperson confirmed. Police at the scene were observed using a military-grade LRAD noise canon to disperse protesters.
Across the crowd near 14th Street, Marianne Ibin, 89, held a sign that read "I ESCAPED THE NAZIS ONCE. YOU WILL NOT DEFEAT ME NOW." Ibin recalled how, as a young girl, she witnessed German Nazis attempting to break down the door of her family's home in the late 1930s and spoke with astonishment that now, over 80 years later, Nazi flags continue to fly in America.
"I can't believe it! I never thought it could happen again," Ibin said.