Sons of Confederate Veterans division responds to torch-lit protest

COURTESY: Allison Wrabel/Daily Progress
COURTESY: Allison Wrabel/Daily Progress(WHSV)
Published: May. 17, 2017 at 3:34 PM EDT
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The Virginia Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans has released a statement concerning the events in Charlottesville's Lee Park over the weekend.

In the statement, the Virginia SCV agrees with Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer, who denounced the

, saying "it reminds him of the country's worst chapters in history."

However, the organization disagreed with Signer regarding the statue's effect on diversity.

Signer also stated extremist groups, including the alt-right, were behind the protest because they were angry about the direction the country is taking.

"Further statements by the Mayor caused the break down of any possible discussion," said the Virginia SCV statement. "He spoke of intolerance and diversity. Whose intolerance and diversity? It is the Charlottesville City Council's lack of tolerance and diversity that has brought us to the point we are at today. They only have tolerance for their views. Where is the diversity in considering the view of anyone not agreeing with the council?"

Charlottesville City Council

to remove the Robert E. Lee statue from Lee Park and rename the park, prompting months of debate and protests from opposing sides.

Since that decision, a lawsuit was fled challenging the council's decision, and a Charlottesville judge

in that lawsuit at the start of this month. That keeps the statue from being moved for six months.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans is one of the co-plaintiffs in that lawsuit, alongside the Charlottesville Monument Fund and a number of individuals.

In the division's released statement, they reiterated that no alt-right or other radical group is connected to the SCV or to the legal proceedings.

"It is the duty of the Sons of Confederate Veterans to emulate the high moral standards of those who fought and died to protect their home land. We represent Southern Heritage NOT White Supremacy. People of all races, religions, and colors fought to defend their Southern homes in the War for Southern Independence," added the statement. "Those who show up with torches and making inflammatory statements are in no way connected with or indorsed [sic] by the SCV. These people only serve to play right into the hands of those who would label us all as racists. In the end, they may do more to bring down monuments than the actions of our enemies."

In response to Saturday's torch-wielding protest, which featured Richard Spencer, a prominent white nationalist, a

in a "rally for equality." Three people were arrested at that rally, including right-wing blogger Jason Kessler, who was arrested for disorderly conduct, as well as Jordan McNeish, arrested for spitting on Kessler, and Charles Best, arrested for assaulting law enforcement and two misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and carrying a concealed weapon.

In June, a hearing will be held on the merits of the claims in the lawsuit against the city's decision.

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