Racial past reopens old wounds in Charlottesville

Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old woman, was run over. A 20-year-old man drove on Saturday with his vehicle to protesters opposed to white supremacists protesting in the city, killing and injuring 19 people. The episode turned this quiet university town into a chaotic setting and the last epicenter of delicate historical revisionism in the southern United States.

In Charlottesville, a town of Virginia of 45,000 people surrounded by hills, the tension experienced the previous day is still alive. The calm is imposed little by little, but the moments of tension and the nerves persist. At noon, Jason Kessler, one of the promoters of the white supremacist march against the withdrawal of a statue of the American Civil War, attempted to hold a press conference in which he blamed the riot police. But he had to run away, protected by agents, after being rebuked by progressive protesters.

Charlottesville carries out a balancing act between the commotion and the desire for normality. Residents seek answers to clashes between white supremacists who demand to keep the statue of Robert E. Lee, general of the Confederacy during the civil war, and counter-protesters, mostly black and anti-fascist groups who defend the decision of the City Council to remove the monument .

Charlottesville is the last local scene of a national debate. The debate, revived in 2015 after a racist slaughter in South Carolina, on the symbology of the old Confederacy, which some consider a slavery legacy and others a sign of historical identity. Add to this the current context: the implicit mutual winks between white supremacists and US President Donald Trump.