Charlottesville mayor calls pro-Confederate rallies 'horrific'

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia (WTVD) -- On Sunday night, a candlelight vigil was held at Lee Park in Charlottesville, Virginia, to show opposition to white nationalists who are angered over plans to remove Confederate statues from the city.

The vigil was held just 24 hours after several dozen torch-wielding protesters gathered at that same park Saturday night to protest the planned removal of Confederate statues in the city, which provoked anger and frustration from politicians and activists.

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Charlottesville mayor calls pro-Confederate rallies 'horrific'

A court injunction has halted the removal of the statue for six months; however, that didn't stop the protesters, led by avowed white nationalist Richard Spencer, from reportedly yelling chants like "We will not be replaced," "Russia is our friend" and "Blood and soil" at the site of the statue, ABC News reports.

Mike Signer, the mayor of Charlottesville, expressed his disgust with Saturday's protest in an interview with ABC News.

"I think it's horrific," he said of the protests. "We're a city that proudly values our diversity."

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Signer explained that the demonstration coincided with the park's Festival of Cultures event, which was created to celebrate the "cultural and linguistic diversity" of the community.

However, he said he isn't sure whether the timing of the protest was deliberate.

"It's always a balance about how much oxygen you want to give these 'alt-right' bigots," he said, referring to questions about how to respond to the actions of Spencer and his followers. "It's important to say that these were just tiki torches. Based upon what I'm seeing online, the people involved in this have a juvenile mentality and are beneath our contempt."

Signer issued a statement about the protests to The Daily Progress saying the protest was "either profoundly ignorant or designed to instill fear in our minority community."

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