The Lincoln Project said it sent people with tiki torches to a campaign event held by Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn YoungkinGlenn YoungkinOvernight Health Care — White House sees quick uptake for free tests Governors declare state of emergency ahead of severe winter weather Virginia's new AG tells state colleges they can't require COVID-19 vaccine for students MORE on Friday, sparking backlash against the activist group.
The anti-Trump group issued a statement saying it pulled the stunt in Charlottesville because Youngkin has not condemned the 2017 “Unite the Right” white nationalist rally.
“Today’s demonstration was our way of reminding Virginians what happened in Charlottesville four years ago, the Republican Party’s embrace of those values, and Glenn Youngkin’s failure to condemn it,” the statement said.
“If he will denounce Trump’s assertion that the Charlottesville rioters possessed ‘very fine’ qualities, we’ll withdraw the tiki torches,” the group continued. “Until then, we’ll be back.”
Earlier on Friday, a group of men holding torches stood next to Youngkin's campaign bus while he was inside a restaurant in Charlottesville, NBC 29 reported. Youngkin accused the men of working for Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffeTerry McAuliffeJill Biden adds to communications team in lead-up to midterm elections The Memo: Is Trump the GOP's future or in rearview mirror? The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems barrel towards voting rights vote with no outcome MORE.
“They’ll do anything to win, and he’s doing anything to win, and so he’s paying people to show up and act silly at our rallies,” Youngkin told NBC29.
These men approached @GlennYoungkin’s bus as it pulled up saying what sounded like, “We’re all in for Glenn.” Here they are standing in front of the bus as his campaign event at Guadalajara started.@NBC29 pic.twitter.com/l681ejyBjc— Elizabeth Holmes (@holmes_reports) October 29, 2021
McAuliffe’s campaign condemned the stunt.
“What happened today in Charlottesville is disgusting and distasteful and the McAuliffe campaign condemns it in the strongest terms,” McAuliffe’s campaign manager Chris Bolling tweeted. “Those involved should immediately apologize.”
What happened today in Charlottesville is disgusting and distasteful and the McAuliffe campaign condemns it in the strongest terms. Those involved should immediately apologize.— Chris Bolling (@cboll84) October 29, 2021
The Virginia Democratic Party said it did not have "any role" in Friday's event, and said it was "shameful and wrong" to make any such allegations.
Statement on Glenn Youngkin’s bus stop earlier today: pic.twitter.com/Hw0svCAW9W— Andrew Whitley (@AndrewWhitleyVA) October 29, 2021
Vice News has identified one of the people involved as Lauren Windsor, a liberal activist known for going undercover to get politicians to share their unfiltered thoughts.
Windsor confirmed on Twitter that she worked with the Lincoln Project to coordinate the stunt “in my capacity as a communications consultant.”
“I join them in the fight to defend our democracy from rightwing extremists and call for Glenn Youngkin to denounce Trump’s ‘very fine people,’” Windsor said.
In my capacity as a communications consultant, I worked w @ProjectLincoln to coordinate today's Youngkin action in Charlottesville. I join them in the fight to defend our democracy from rightwing extremists and call for Glenn Youngkin to denounce Trump’s ‘very fine people.— Lauren Windsor (@lawindsor) October 29, 2021
The stunt comes days ahead of the hotly contested Nov. 2 election, with both candidates neck and neck in polls. It also comes as a trial began this week in a civil lawsuit against two dozen people involved in the August 2017 rally.
The rally in Charlottesville began with scores of young white men chanting while carrying torches across the University of Virginia campus. It ended the following day when a self-professed neo-Nazi drove his car into a crowd, killing a counterprotester.
Friday's incident involving tiki torches, which drudged up memories from the Charlottesville rally, sparked intense backlash on social media.
Connor Rogers, who previously worked as the Lincoln Project’s digital director, said that Heather Heyer, the counter-protester who died in Charlottesville, is "not a prop or a stunt."
I haven't spoken much about The Lincoln Project since I left in December 2020.— Conor Rogers (@conorjrogers) October 29, 2021
A wonderful activist for peace died in Charlottesville on 8/12. Her name is Heather Heyer.
She and that event are not a prop or a stunt. It's not anyone's to use.
What a profound miscalculation.
What a massive, massive screw up. The last thing that the McAuliffe campaign needed this weekend. A total disservice to the hundreds of hard-working staffers on the ground.— Lis Smith (@Lis_Smith) October 29, 2021
When people say D's need to act more like R's, remember this incident. https://t.co/vlwG72Fwme