State Watch

Charlottesville City Council tears into Lincoln Project over tiki torch stunt

The Charlottesville City Council rebuked the Lincoln Project on Thursday over a tiki torch stunt the group organized last week to protest a campaign event for Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin (R).

In a letter to Lincoln Project co-founder Steve Schmidt, the Charlottesville City Council said the anti-Trump activist group “tore open a still-healing wound in Charlottesville” with the stunt.

The council further criticized the group, stating, “Your post-demonstration press release promised the potential for more such painful memories.”

The Hill has reached out to the Lincoln Project for comment.

Last Friday, a group of individuals in white shirts held torches next to Youngkin’s campaign bus while he was inside a restaurant in Charlottesville. Youngkin accused the men of working for his Democratic gubernatorial opponent, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

Both the Virginia Democratic Party and McAuliffe’s campaign said they had no role in the stunt. McAuliffe’s campaign condemned the stunt “in the strongest possible terms” and called on those involved to apologize. 

Later in the day, the Lincoln Project issued a statement saying it pulled the stunt because Youngkin had not condemned the 2017 white nationalist rally held in Charlottesville. The group also implied that it would perform the stunt again.

“If he will denounce Trump’s assertion that the Charlottesville rioters possessed ‘very fine’ qualities, we’ll withdraw the tiki torches,” the group said. “Until then, we’ll be back.”

The 2017 rally involved scores of white men chanting while carrying torches across the University of Virginia Campus. The following day, a self-proclaimed neo-Nazi killed a counterprotester after driving his car into a crowd.

The incident at the Youngkin campaign event came the same week a trial began in a civil case against nine people involved in the 2017 rally.

In its letter, the Charlottesville City Council said images of people in white shirts holding tiki torches means “we are under attack.” 

“You clearly do not understand the extent to which your ‘prank’ inflicted real emotional pain on innocent people here in Charlottesville,” the letter stated. “Please do not bring your cosplaying operatives back to Charlottesville. We do not wish to be the backdrop for your next exercise in political theater.”

Tags Glenn Youngkin Terry McAuliffe

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