PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – Wounds remain open 2 years after the deadly rally in Charlottesville where one woman was killed, and dozens more hurt.
Now we’re learning more about what happened behind the scenes leading up to that night.
Only 10 On Your Side spoke with former Governor Terry McAuliffe about his new book, “Beyond Charlottesville: Taking a Stand Against White Nationalism.”
“Of course, my worst day in office was Charlottesville,” the former Governor told a gathering of 30 people in the offices of State Senator Louise Lucas of Portsmouth.
The former Governor’s book “Beyond Charlottesville” is about the August 11 and 12 of 2017. Those were the days white supremacists and neo-nazis paid a visit to the University of Virginia.
“I thought after Trump’s election and the insanity that followed we needed to write a book on how to fight white nationalism in this country,” McAuliffe said to a strong applause.
McAuliffe remembers Friday night of August 11 when torches in the night reminded people of Nazi Germany in the 1930s.
“At 9 o’clock, it was dark. No lights on the mountain. All you could see was a snake of torches, and hundreds of people were coming down with them. They were chanting ‘Jews, you will not replace us with blood and soil.”
McAuliffe writes they knew there would be problems, but courts upheld first amendment rights to protest even though they had undercover operations going on for months.
“We were told these people were being told to bring weapons and to hurt other people.”
That’s right, state and local governments knew.
Then on Saturday, August 12, 2017, a white supremacist runs over and kills a protester. Later, two state troopers would crash in a helicopter monitoring the protests.
McAuliffe spoke to President Trump on the phone.
“I explained to the President what was happening. That these are the most vile human beings I have ever seen. I told him what they were saying in explicit detail. They would use ‘f’ and ‘n’. ‘F’ and ‘c,’ and yelling
‘jews,’ and it was awful,” McAuliffe added.
McAuliffe remembers being stunned by President Trump’s failure to fully blames the white nationalists.
On August 12, the President said, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms the egregious display of this hatred, and bigotry on many sides, many sides.”
McAuliffe couldn’t believe it.
“The President would not use the name ‘white nationalist.’ I told the President there are times when we look to you to be our moral leader, and this was his time, and he failed us on that day.”
“I remember I had to give a speech.”
On August 12 McAuliffe said, “Please go home and never come back. Take your hatred, and take your bigotry, and leave. Do not come back.”
McAuliffe writes that the only silver lining to Charlottesville is that “as bad as Charlottesville was, the one benefit was it ripped the scab off racism. I think for far too long that people felt that we had dealt with the issues and that it had gone away.”
“For white people, it is not a comfortable topic, and what Charlottesville did was to say it is here, and it hasn’t gone away. “
McAuliffe closes the 177 page book with a statement saying people “won’t feel comfortable taking on hatred and bigotry.”
“Forget reconciliation commissions. Words. Words. Words. It’s a bunch of white people sitting around trying to feel comfortable to talk a problem to death, but it doesn’t bring change. Action brings change. Do something. Do it now.”