Anti-racist demonstrators march in Charlottesville one year after deadly violence

A group of anti-fascist activists are rallying peacefully in downtown Charlottesville as the city marks the anniversary of last summer's white supremacist violence.

A few dozen black-clad demonstrators marched through downtown Saturday afternoon, stopping to pause for a moment of silence at the site where a woman protesting a white nationalist rally was killed last August.

Some in the group scrawled messages in chalk at the site that hosts a makeshift memorial to Heather Heyer. Several police officers watched from a distance.

The group then continued marching, with some members carrying a sign that said, "Good night white pride.''

As the activists made their way wordlessly through a downtown pedestrian mall, people sitting outdoors at cafes began singing "This Little Light of Mine.''

Around 10 a.m. Saturday, when many shops were beginning to open, law enforcement officers outnumbered visitors in the popular downtown shopping district. Concrete barriers and metal fences had been erected, and police were searching bags at two checkpoints where people could enter or leave.

Lara Mitchell, a sales associate at Ten Thousand Villages, a shop that sells artwork, jewelry, and other items, said the security seemed ``a little bit over the top.'' But she added she doesn't fault authorities for taking such strict measures.

She says, "It's nice that they're here to protect us.''

Saturday marks a year since white nationalists marched through the University of Virginia campus with torches, clashing with a group of counterprotesters. The following day, a much larger gathering of white nationalists near a downtown park erupted into violence.