Richard Spencer held a rally at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday, June 25, 2017. He dubbed the event the “Rally for Free Speech,” and despite fears of violence, no arrests were made. Between 100 and 300 people attended. Washingtonian reported that Spencer gave a speech in which he included a call to action: “Let’s meet a year from now. Let’s have 10,000 people. Let’s five years from now have 100,000 people or a half a million people. Let’s march for us.”
Richard Spencer, a white nationalist associated with the alt-right movement, is president of the National Policy Institute, located in Alexandria, Virginia. He gained notoriety when, at a conference he organized following the 2016 US presidential election, he shouted “Hail Trump!” — to which the crowd responded with a Nazi-like salute. WUSA reported that Spencer told reporters that although he did not choose the Lincoln Memorial for its symbolic value, he did believe the setting was appropriate. “The idea that he was some great emancipator is a bit of a myth – so yes, I do think he would support us,” he said to reporters.
Nathan Damigo, leader of Identity Evropa, a white supremacist group in the United States, was a headliner at the rally. He previously served in the Marine Corps, but received an other-than-honorable discharge after robbing a cab driver of $43. He was sentenced to six years in prison, and was released in 2014. Two years later, he founded Identity Evropa. The Daily Beast reported that a video of Damigo punching a woman in the face at a UC Berkeley protest went viral, gaining him notoriety.
The Washington Post reported that speakers discussed economic issues, white identity, and immigration.
A counter-rally was held higher up the steps on the Lincoln Memorial. There, the crowd sang and listened to a speech by the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor. At times, the two rallies shouted phrases at each other.
A large number of police officers were present. There was no violence between the competing rallies.
No Violence at “Rally for Free Speech” at Lincoln Memorial
Richard Spencer’s “Rally for Free Speech” took place at the Lincoln Memorial. Despite the presence of a competing rally, there was no violence.
Prepared by Graham Piro ’18
September 18, 2017