Washington, DC–White supremacist Richard Spencer and about 20 of his followers expressed hatred for immigrants at the White House Sunday afternoon while protesting the San Francisco trial verdict in the shooting death of Kathryn Steinle.
About 75 counter-protesters confronted Spencer and his Nazi group on Pennsylvania Ave. as they marched toward Lafayette Square, blocking them from reaching the front of the North Portico side of White House. Police scrambled to separate the two groups with a cordon as they met, then quickly inserted metal barricades between the two sides before any skirmishes could break out.
“Alt-Righters” like Spencer and Eli Mosley and Traditionalist Workers Party neo-Nazis including Matthew Heimbach and Derek Davis were in attendance. Spencer and Mosley helped organized the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., on August 9 when Nazi groups, the KKK, the Alt Right, and other fringe supremacy groups protested the removal of a Civil War statue of General Robert E. Lee. That event turned deadly when a car driven by James Alex Fields Jr., 20, plowed into activists, hitting and injuring 20 and killing Heather Heyer, a civil rights activist. Attorney General Jeff Sessions admitted it was an act of domestic terrorism and vowed to investigate and prosecute it as terrorism.
Sunday’s Alt Right protest was in response to the acquittal of Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, an undocumented immigrant, of murder and involuntary manslaughter charges in the killing of Kathryn Steinle. (Zarate was convicted of possession of a firearm.) The city of San Francisco refused to turn him over to federal authorities.
Spencer and his group carried a sign reading “Build Kate’s Wall” as a rallying cry to build a border wall with Mexico and prevent immigrants from entering the United States. As Spencer attempted to speak on a bullhorn, antifa counter-protesters drowned him out by chanting, “You killed Heather Heyer!” Black Lives Matter activists, immigration activists and supporters joined them.
They persisted in shouting down Spencer’s attempts to be heard from behind a wall of police, which by then had circled around to protect him. Spencer’s group soon departed along Pennsylvania Ave., escorted by Secret Service and DC Metropolitan Police. Police kept counter-protesters from following the group as it left.
The entire encounter lasted less than half an hour. Hundreds of tourists watched and recorded the encounter on cameras and cell phones.
Trump came out against Garcia Zarate’s acquittal in a tweet saying, “A disgraceful verdict in the Kate Steinle case! No wonder the people of our Country are so angry with Illegal Immigration.”
According to the San Francisco public defender who worked on the case, Trump tweeted misinformation about the shooting, depicting it as a deliberate murder. A series of tweets by Trump and right wing personalities both during the trial and after it rallied support against immigrants.
There were no reported arrests or injuries during Sunday’s rally.