A Confederate monument rally organized by a group called CSA II: The New Confederate States of America was met with a mass of counter protesters and fizzled early in Richmond, Virginia on Saturday.
The CSA II organizers left abruptly around an hour after they began, speeding away from the protest in a pickup truck with two flat tires.
The organizers, Tara Brandau, Thomas Crompton and Judy Crompton, posted the event on Facebook, where they suggested the protest would last all day, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. But around 11 a.m., they suddenly departed, escorted away from the protest area by police. They got in their white F-150 and hurried away from the barricaded rally area, pursued by counter protesters, who ran after the truck for about a block. Both tires on the vehicle’s right side were flat, and police did not know whether they had been slashed, and if so, by whom.
Brandau streamed the exit live on Facebook while driving, saying, “We have people on our ass, dude, we have people on our ass. I am having to extract on flat tires ... I’m gonna have to run this motherfucking light … I got to.”
She and the other organizers continued for a little more than a mile, by which time the counter protesters had long since fallen behind. When Brandau stopped the truck, however, she was preparing for an altercation outside, saying, “Give me my gun. Where’s my gun? Alright, I’m standing strong, I’ve got to set this phone down, y’all. Where is my fucking gun?”
Law enforcement officers caught up with the group and helped them get their truck towed. They confiscated their firearms — an AR-15, a hunting rifle and a handgun — so that they could escort them out of the area to the police precinct. From there, the CSA II organizers left for Tennessee.
Brandau is affiliated with the III% Security Force in Georgia, an anti-government extremist group. Likewise, the Cromptons are affiliated with a chapter in Tennessee. During the protest, the trio repeatedly disavowed white supremacy and neo-Confederate hate groups like League of the South (LOS), and tried to assert their multicultural bona fides. That attitude has prompted scorn within extreme groups like the LOS, who did not have a notable presence at the rally. But CSA II has also failed to garner support with the slightly more moderate Sons of Confederate Veterans. In the lead-up to the rally, Virginia chapters encouraged their followers not to attend.
Though some supporters of the CSA II event were peppered throughout the crowd of counter protesters, at the time they dispersed the organizers had only assembled seven people, including themselves, to stand at the front and rally with them.
Police presence was massive, as the memory of the recent disaster at Charlottesville weighed heavy on the minds of law enforcement and city officials. Traffic in and out of the rally area was heavily monitored, and police appeared at one point in the afternoon with riot gear, including facemasks, clubs and guns with rubber bullets. By that time many of the protesters had dispersed, and what remained were groups of Richmond citizens debating the monument issue amongst themselves. The assembly remained through most of the day, and culminated in a march made up of counter protesters with a few pro-Confederate marchers mixed in. Law enforcement made seven arrests throughout the day, four of them for breaking their tightly enforced rules barring face coverings. The other arrests concerned disorderly conduct and unlawful possession of weapons.