When Jason Kessler applied for a permit to host the second white supremacist Unite The Right Rally at Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., he estimated attendance would be between 100 and 400 people, according to The Associated Press. But when counting how many people attended the Unite The Right Rally on Sunday, the numbers didn’t meet expectations. Not even close.
According to an estimate by NBC News, “fewer than 20 people” attended the rally that claimed to draw attention to “white civil rights.” By comparison, NBC News said the counter-protesters anchored in Freedom Plaza numbered in the hundreds, with CBS News estimating that the counter-protesters’ numbers reached “nearly 1,000.”
The rally was scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. EST, but the Unite The Right participants arrived and finished before their official start time, The New York Times reported. Rain might have been a factor in the short rally time, the newspaper added. (The rally only lasted about an hour, according to CBS News.)
Kessler told The Times that participation was low because they felt “attacked” by counter-protesters. “There were a lot of people who were at last year’s rally who are very scared this year,” Kessler told the newspaper. “They felt like last year they came to express their point of view. They were attacked. And when they fought back, they were overly prosecuted.”
The Unite The Right 2 rally came on the anniversary of last year’s rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that ended in the death of anti-racist protester Heather Heyer. Nineteen others were injured.
This year’s rally was much more subdued in comparison. Counter-protesters and Unite The Right 2 attendees were separated via barricades by police, but the counter-protesters’ noise still overwhelmed the few Unite The Right 2 participants. They chanted things like “No hate, no fear, KKK is not welcome here,” according to CBS News.
Kessler called himself “a civil rights advocate” when interviewed by WUSA, a CBS affiliate on Sunday. “I’m not a white nationalist. I’m a civil rights advocate. I’m focusing on white people because we don’t have civil rights advocates,” Kessler told the news station. “A lot of people are not going to understand why white people need civil rights advocates but that’s going to be what my speech is about.”
Kessler told ABC News that his supporters’ tires were “slashed” on the way to Washington, D.C. “I have people attacking me left, right and center,” Kessler told the news network.
Kessler said he wanted this rally to be in Washington, D.C., so he could talk to President Donald Trump. “That’s why I wanted to speak to President Trump at the White House. It was criminal conduct by the Charlottesville government,” Kessler said of the outcomes of last year’s Unite The Right rally, according to USA Today.
Thus far, there haven’t been any reports of arrests at the Washington, D.C. rallies, according to ABC News.