MSNBC anchor Craig Melvin on Monday claimed white nationalists were among the thousands “swarming” the Virginia capitol building in Richmond.
“Right now thousands of gun rights activists, white nationalists, militia groups — all swarming the Virginia state capitol in Richmond,” Melvin said following a “breaking news” alert.
Melvin’s claim follows NBC reporter Ben Collins labeling the demonstration a “white supremacist rally.” His tweet over the weekend received criticism for lacking evidence.
The rally “is not organized by racists and they won’t be in any way a significant portion of the attendees,” Washington Free Beacon staff writer Stephen Gutowski said.
Tomorrow's event is in no way a "white nationalist rally." it is not organized by racists and they won't be in any way a significant portion of the attendees yet this writer is elevating them while smearing the regular people who will actually be there. https://t.co/ZrR9UngWj8
— Stephen Gutowski (@StephenGutowski) January 19, 2020
Collins eventually deleted his tweet and said white nationalists have been “planning violent action at the event.” Despite reports of possible violence, NBC reported that the rally “was largely peaceful, with no reported arrests or violence.”
Gutowski spoke to attendees and reported the rally was free of violence or racist displays, tweeting that the rally “was focused on gun rights.”
People are begining to clear out as the rally comes to an end. The attendence was massive. There was no violence, disturbance, or really any consternation from what I witnessed. I did not see any racist displays whatsoever. Everyone in attendance was focused on gun rights.
— Stephen Gutowski (@StephenGutowski) January 20, 2020
A CNN report that also aired Monday appeared to tie the peaceful rally to a murder in Missouri, although producers eventually changed the chyron to reflect the fact that no violent incidents were reported.
(Reporting by Cameron Cawthorne)