The Unite the Right rally was planned to happen on August 12, 2017. The rally was organized by Jason Kessler in response to the city of Charlottesville changing the name of Robert E. Lee Park to Emancipation Park, and for scheduling the dismantling of the Robert E. Lee monument located inside the park. The city revoked the permit for the rally, but Kessler and the ACLU won an injunction in federal court to have it reinstated. Many of the white supremacists gathered on the University of Virginia campus the night before with tiki torches to march. It ended with a brawl against anti-fascist protesters at the Thomas Jefferson memorial statue.
The next day there were clashes between white supremacists and counter-protesters before and after the Unite the Right rally that was scheduled on August 12. Protesters used their fists, pepper spray and makeshift clubs to fight each other. The rally ended early when riot police pushed the white supremacist out of the park after they announced an unlawful assembly before the rally was scheduled to begin. The fighting spilled out onto the streets of downtown Charlottesville for the afternoon. After the Unite the Right Rally Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old woman from Charlottesville, was killed and 19 others were injured when white supremacist James Fields plowed his car into protesters marching through downtown.