When hundreds of neo-Nazis and white supremacists rallied a year ago in Charlottesville, Virginia, the demonstration turned into a riot that left one woman dead and shocked the nation.
For the August anniversary, the torch-carrying, swastika-bearing protesters wanted to repeat their demonstration in Charlottesville and in Washington, D.C.
Jason Kessler, who organized last year's event under the banner "Unite the Right," was denied a permit to gather in Charlottesville this year, and he withdrew his bid to fight that denial at a hearing Tuesday. But Kessler's attorney indicated the white nationalist might seek a permit at another time in the city.
In Washington, Kessler's permit application for a rally Aug. 12 received initial approval, and details are being worked out.
But those who are part of the increasingly visible far-right sentiment in America now face divisions within their own movement and seem unlikely to rally in the same large numbers as last year.
Kessler said this year's rally will focus on "white civil rights" – what he sees as limited rights for white people, particularly surrounding free speech. Only American and Confederate flags will be allowed at the D.C. event, Kessler said; no neo-Nazi paraphernalia.
“What I’m really trying to do is start a new movement," Kessler said. "I feel like the 'alt-right' has been a symbol for neo-Nazism." Although the theme is white rights, he said the rally is "open to everybody."
Kessler said he expects fewer people this year because of concerns about violence.
“I think it’s definitely going to be different in terms of attendance," he said. "A lot of people are going to be very scared for their safety."
The group also faces internal divisions and struggles to turn an Internet-focused movement into a viable political force.
“I think the hope was that they would step away from their computers and enter into real politics," said George Hawley, a University of Alabama professor who has written a book about the alt-right. “And that was not the result."
Facebook chats between Kessler and other white nationalists – obtained by ThinkProgress, a left-wing website – show the difficulty of planning the August rallies. According to the chats, organizers struggled to agree on speakers and logistics and grew frustrated with neo-Nazis who did not support the white-civil-rights-only theme.
"The Alt-Right is poor, disorganized and lacking in conviction," Kessler wrote May 13.
Last August's demonstrations rocked Charlottesville for two days. On the evening of Aug. 11, hundreds of torch-bearing protesters marched through the University of Virginia campus, chanting white supremacist slogans such as "Blood and Soil" and "Jews Will Not Replace Us."
The next day, the group swamped downtown Charlottesville – along with several armed, uniformed paramilitary groups – and were met by counterprotesters.
Rioting broke out, several people were injured, and one woman, Heather Heyer, 32, died after a protester associated with the neo-Nazi groups backed his car through a throng of counterprotesters and struck her.
"The American public was appalled," said Lawrence Rosenthal, who chairs the Berkeley Center for Right-Wing Studies. Americans "no longer saw these people as pranksters, especially after the death."
A group of counterprotesters injured during the rally have filed a civil lawsuit in federal court against Kessler and other leaders, alleging the demonstrators were responsible for the violence and the injuries. That case is still ongoing.
Another lawsuit, filed by Georgetown's Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, alleged that the armed paramilitary groups at the rally were unlawful. Kessler and several of those groups recently agreed to a settlement, which stipulates that Kessler must "actively discourage" that sort of activity.
Mary McCord, lead attorney for the plaintiffs in that lawsuit, said she hopes the settlement will discourage some protesters from attending any potential rally in Charlottesville.
“My hope is that this is sufficient deterrent to the individuals and defendants who are sued," she said. “Maybe they just won’t come back at all – that would be great."
If they do come back, Charlottesville will be ready. The city is organizing several community events to mark the anniversary.
“We’re trying to use this anniversary as a chance to reflect, and to maybe make our own statement of protest and solidarity," said Rabbi Tom Gutherz of Congregation Beth Israel, Charlottesville's only synagogue. Beth Israel is located at the center of town and was forced to take security precautions last year when armed demonstrators began to gather outside.
City officials also are gearing up for security risks. Even without a permit, demonstrators could gather in smaller groups and make their presence known.
“The fact that they can show up, even if there’s five of them ... it’s something that alarms us," City Councilor Wes Bellamy said.
Bellamy, who is black, led the city's initial fight to remove Confederate statues, which sparked last year's rallies. “Regardless of whether they come with 10 or 20 or two, people are going to be on edge," he said.
Local activists are getting ready, too. Tanesha Hudson, a filmmaker and longtime advocate for minority rights, spent hours counterprotesting during last year's demonstrations. This year, she's prepared to fight harder.
“The more that they think they’re going to come here and disrespect my city, the more I’m going to plan and strategize to protect my city," she said.
Lisa Woolfork, a University of Virginia professor and Black Lives Matter organizer, said the anniversary gives Charlottesville a chance to show its distaste for the ideology seen at last year's rally.
“Our plans remain the same," she said. "It’s to stand together as a community to resist the rising tide of white supremacy – and that’s going to happen whether they’re granted permits or not granted permits.”