Last Saturday, white nationalists descended on Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Virginia, for a rally they called “Unite the Right”.
The group, made up of the alt-right, militia, neo-Nazis and racists, formed the largest gathering of white nationalists in the country for decades, as they joined together to protest the upcoming removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E Lee.
The rally ended in violence and chaos, with nationalists reportedly shouting anti-immigrant, anti-semitic and racist slogans and attacking anti-fascist counter-protestors, while one man drove into a crowd of counter-protestors and killed one woman, named as Heather Hayer, while injuring some 19 others.
The governor of Virginia declared a state of emergency and riot police were drafted in to diffuse the rally.
While the majority of the world – and social media – reacted with a mixture of appalled shock and defiance in the face of such open hatred, President Trump ignited fury by first taking almost three days to condemn the alt-right, before stating yesterday that there was blame “on both” sides for the violence.
“I think there is blame on both sides. You look at both sides. I think there is blame on both sides,” he said yesterday during a press conference.
"You had a group on one side that was bad and a group on the other side that was very violent."
In direct contrast to Trump’s actions, former President Barack Obama took to Twitter to share a message of unity and love, which has since become the most liked tweet on the platform ever, with over 3.1 million likes to date so far.
Sharing an image of himself chatting to a group of children of all races, Obama captioned the photo with a fitting quote from Nelson Mandela.
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion...” he wrote.
"People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love… For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
"...For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite." - Nelson Mandela— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 13, 2017
Following on from Obama’s message, here are some of the most defiant, hopeful and – at times – uplifting messages shared on Twitter following the Charlottesville violence.
Messages of defiance
Hundreds of people took to Twitter to pay tribute to Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old counter-protestor who was killed when a car drove into her and other counter-protestors. Her last public words on Facebook were, “If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention."
20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr has since been charged with second-degree murder over her death, CNN reports.
There were also messages of fierce defiance against white nationalists and racism as a whole shared thousands of times across the platform:
"We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."-Wiesel— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) August 15, 2017
My grandmother Pamela Haig, as an art student in Vienna, nearly got gassed by the Nazis. You can't tolerate things that want to kill you.— Matt Haig (@matthaig1) August 13, 2017
Messages of unity
Alongside defiance, people took to Twitter to encourage a united front in the face of racism, while others took to the streets to rally in solidarity.
Been working; just learned of the 'news conference.' I'm so sorry, world.— Bellamy Young (@BellamyYoung) August 16, 2017
Racism is ABHORRENT.
It's up to us all to rise up now with LOVE❤️
If you're black, poc, lgbtq, don't let anyone make you feel bad for disengaging with social media and the news at the moment. Take care of u— lamar abrams (@neo_rama) August 13, 2017
Messages of hope
Finally, there were messages of hope and love shared across the social media platform, from fundraising initiatives to help injured people caught up in the violence to simple
Don't just uplift the Black lives they're snuffed out. Let's show these Nazis that Black women and girls are loved & will be fought for— Puff the Magic Hater (@MsKellyMHayes) August 14, 2017
All images: Twitter