NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — The anti-Donald Trump group The Lincoln Project took credit Friday for five people appearing with tiki torches at a Charlottesville campaign stop by Virginia’s GOP candidate for governor, a stunt recalling white supremacists who descended on that city amid violence in 2017.
Charlottesville TV station WVIR covered the campaign stop and reported candidate Glenn Youngkin was inside a restaurant when the group dressed in matching hats, khakis and white button-down shirts appeared beside his campaign bus. Former private equity executive and political novice is currently in a close race with former Democratic Governor. As Tuesday’s Election Day approaches, Terry McAuliffe is in a close race against former Democratic Gov.
Photos showed large tiki torch holders. Their appearance recalled two days of chaos in August 2017, when white supremacists gathered in the college town for a “Unite the Right” rally ostensibly to protest the planned removal of a Confederate monument.
The night before the planned rally, a group of tiki torch-wielding protesters marched through the University of Virginia campus and clashed with a small group of antiracist protesters. A car driven by a self-declared white supremacist drove into a peaceful crowd of counterprotesters the next day, killing one and injuring many others.
McAuliffe staffers promoted the tweet of a reporter about the group’s appearance. They used it to attack Youngkin, suggesting that those holding the torch were his supporters.
Youngkin staffers discredited McAuliffe campaign and Virginia Democrats for being involved.
” What happened today is distasteful, and we strongly condemn it. “Those involved should immediately apologise,” McAuliffe campaign manager Chris Bolling stated in a statement. The Democratic Party of Virginia issued an apology, saying that neither the party nor its “coordinated affiliates” were involved in “the events” at the campaign bus station.
The Lincoln Project then weighed in, saying it was behind what it called a “demonstration.”
“The Youngkin campaign is enraged by our reminder of Charlottesville for one simple reason: Glenn Youngkin wants Virginians to forget that he is Donald Trump’s candidate,” the group said of the former president. The incident occurred at a sensitive moment in the city. A civil trial opened Monday that will determine whether the neo-Nazis and white supremacists who organized the 2017 demonstrations should be held accountable for the violence.
Democratic Del. Sally Hudson, who represents Charlottesville in the General Assembly, condemned the torch-bearing incident as a “stunt.”
“Charlottesville is not a prop. Our community is still reeling after years of trauma, especially this week. @ProjectLincoln, don’t return. Your stunts aren’t welcome here,” she tweeted.
The Youngkin campaign did no immediate response to a request for comment.