To celebrate Donald Trump’s presidential victory, dozens of white nationalists descended on the Ronald Reagan Building in downtown Washington, D.C. on Saturday to share glasses of wine and make Nazi salutes for the cameras.
The event, organized by the white nationalist National Policy Institute, was part of the movement’s ongoing effort to normalize their brand of “pro-white,” anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant nationalism. Yet there were deep cracks in the facade.
The New York Times reported that by the eleventh hour of speeches and panel discussions cheering Trump’s win and decrying the marginalization of white Americans in coded language, the rhetoric took a blatantly anti-Semitic turn.
In his closing speech, Richard Spencer, NPI president and figurehead of the so-called “alt-right” movement, said that white people, whom he called the “children of the sun,” were “awakening to their own identity” in the Trump era.
Spencer ranted about the mainstream media and asked the audience if they should be referred to “in the original German,” according to the Times. The audience screamed back, “Lügenpresse,” a Nazi-era word that means “lying press” and appeared on signs at several Trump rallies during his campaign.
Spencer also reportedly suggested that the media criticized Trump during the 2016 race to protect Jewish interests.
By the end of his speech, a number of audience members had their arms stretched out in Nazi salutes and cheers of “Heil the people! Heil victory” broke out, according to the report.
Former reality TV star Tila Tequila was part of the crowd, and posted a photo on Twitter of her and several other attendees making Nazi salutes.
Seig heil! ✋ pic.twitter.com/FhuFuZq6Sc
— Tila Tequila (@AngelTilaLove) November 19, 2016
The speakers heaped praise on the work of Trump’s chief strategist, Breitbart News chairman Steve Bannon, and on his other appointees to senior roles in the administration.
Asked about Trump picking Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) as his attorney general, Spencer glowed.
“The fact that he is going to be at such a high level is a wonderful thing. What Jeff Sessions is not going to do, in terms of not prosecuting federal diversity and fair housing, I think is just as powerful as what he might do,” he told reporters.
As the white nationalists spoke inside the federal building a stones-throw from the White House and from Trump’s International Hotel, dozens of protesters gathered outside holding signs that read “Alt-wrong” and “No fascist USA.” The protest was peaceful absent a scuffle between one conference attendee and two protesters that left the former with a bloody gash on his forehead, according to CNN.
This post has been updated.