Charlottesville (2/60 minute programs) – The WCVE PBS Richmond documentary “Charlottesville,” explores the events leading to the tragedies of August 11 and 12, 2017, and grapples with the difficult question of how such acts are possible in modern America. Through first-hand accounts, “Charlottesville” offers local insight and perspective on the events that garnered national and international attention, prompting us to ask questions about who we are as a people, what we can learn from this experience, and how we can come together as a country.
- #1 airs 12/18 at 1 a.m. – Cities around the United States reacted to the Charleston massacre by removing Confederate statues and imagery. Charlottesville, Virginia voted to dismantle a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee and rename the park in which it stood, from Lee Park, to Emancipation Park. Controversy over the statue flared, inflaming tensions between residents and garnering attention from outside forces. On August 11th, 2017 elite University of Virginia students moved into dorms on the historic lawn. As the day progressed, word spread that white supremacists were gathering nearby. University officials tried to figure out exactly what was happening. By nightfall, hundreds of white supremacists marched up the lawn bearing flaming torches, angrily shouting anti-Semitic slogans. They streamed around the famous University Rotunda where they surrounded a statue of Thomas Jefferson and a handful of counter protestors. Tensions escalated, shouting increased, fights broke out. Counter protestors were beaten with torches and pummeled with flaming canisters. This was only a prelude to what was to come.
- #2 airs 12/18 at 2 a.m. – By 6am, August 12th, 2017, the city of Charlottesville was already very hot and humid. Protestors and counter protestors amassed at Emancipation Park, many wearing body armor and wielding shields, clubs and guns. Self-proclaimed neutral militias wore military fatigues and bore semi-automatic long rifles. If many showed up for a fight, they would soon find themselves immersed in a street brawl. The violence that occurred on August 12th shocked America and the world. National news and live streamers covered the rally in real time; beatings on the streets and in parking decks, a car driving into a crowd of counter protestors, killing one young woman. Few could believe this was happening in America. Even fewer could believe this was happening in Charlottesville. Many people wondered, “How did it come to this?”