A year ago, white nationalists clashed in Charlottesville, Virginia, with protesters who had gathered to challenge their far-right views.

Donald Trump had been President for 29 weeks and rather than uniting the nation he was fuelling racial tensions.

Emboldened by their President's words and outraged at plans to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, hundreds of white nationalists, including neo-Nazis and members of the Ku Klux Klan and the alt-right movement, gathered for a rally called Unite the Right.

The counter-protesters included members of faith-based groups, civil rights organisations, university students and what white nationalists have labelled the antifa, or anti-fascists.


It didn't take long for things to turn violent and deadly.

Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal, was killed when a car ploughed into counter-protesters in an act of violence that shocked the United States and made headlines around the world.

Alex Fields, a 21-year-old who has expressed support for Adolf Hitler and the Holocaust, has been charged over her death.

A year on, the nation doesn't seem to have made much progress. Trump is as divisive as ever and white nationalists find easy justification in his comments. Jason Kessler, the organiser of last year's rally, is behind today's follow-up Unite the Right 2 event in Washington, a march followed by a "white civil rights" rally across from the White House. Counter-protest groups will also stage a rally.

Following a damning independent review by former US attorney Timothy Heaphy on the planning and policing in Charlottesville last year, Virginia Governor Ralph Northman last week declared a state of emergency so authorities would be prepared in the event of more trouble. Permits for the United the Right 2 event were issued only once a security plan was finalised.

Trump was widely criticised after last year's clashes for not denouncing white nationalists explicitly but instead condemning "hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides". Only after days of negative headlines did he state that "racism is evil" while calling out white supremacists. Yesterday he tweeted that "I condemn all types of racism and acts of violence".

Susan Bro, Heyer's mother, is also calling on protesters not to "respond to the violence". She said in recent interviews with the American press that "there's no place for hate".

She told the Atlantic that the events in Charlottesville "exposed the infection that's been there all along. I think it was an opening of an old wound that needs to be cleaned out and needs to be fixed."

That wound will no doubt be opened again today. We can only hope there is no more violence and loss of life.