Many in the Midlands stand with Charlottesville protest victims

Many in the Midlands stand with Charlottesville protest victims

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A large group gathered at South Carolina's State House on Monday to show solidarity with anti-racism protesters in Charlottesville, VA.

The two-hour event titled "Columbia Stands with Charlottesville" drew support from more than 20 groups including Progress South Carolina, the Sierra Club and several chapters of the Indivisible movement.

Speakers called for an end to hate and bigotry, some linking the Virginia violence to statements and positions taken by President Donald Trump and members of the White House inner circle.

Earlier in the day at an appearance in Chapin, Governor Henry McMaster denounced white supremacists who staged the Virginia rally.

"I think racism, that kind of hatred, that kind of violence is off the scale and has not a place in this country, certainly in South Carolina," McMaster said. "We are praying for the innocent people up there who are being hurt and being mistreated and we hope it stops immediately."

For Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, the Charlottesville events sparked memories of a tense 2015 State House clash between members of a North Carolina Klan group and counter-protest organizations including Black Lives Matter.

That conflict escalated into shouting matches and scuffles as the Klansmen stood on the south steps of the State House waving Confederate flags.

Some of the anti-Klan protesters pursued members of the Loyal White Knights as they headed to their cars in a nearby parking garage.

Though no one suffered serious injuries, Lott says the Virginia incident "brought back nightmares" of the Columbia protest.

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