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Group with tiki torches at Youngkin campaign event in Charlottesville, Va.; Lincoln Project claims credit

A group of people holding Tiki torches as they stand next to Glenn Youngkin's campaign bus in...
A group of people holding Tiki torches as they stand next to Glenn Youngkin's campaign bus in Charlottesville.(WVIR)
Published: Oct. 29, 2021 at 7:25 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A campaign stop by the Republican candidate for Virginia governor Friday was overshadowed by a group of people holding tiki torches, reminiscent of extremists at a rally at the University of Virginia in 2017 where a person was killed.

WVIR reported the five people, wearing white button-down shirts and khaki pants with unlit torches in hand, stood next to Glenn Youngkin’s campaign bus while he was inside a restaurant. The Lincoln Project, a political action committee of Republicans and ex-GOP members against former President Donald Trump, put out a statement claiming responsibility.

“Today’s demonstration was our way of reminding Virginians what happened in Charlottesville four years ago, the Republican Party’s embrace of those values and Glenn Youngkin’s failure to condemn it,” Lincoln Project said in the statement.

Prior to that announcement, Youngkin told an NBC reporter he believed they were sent by his opponent, Terry McAuliffe.

McAuliffe’s team denied the accusation, saying, “This was not us or anyone affiliated with our campaign.”

“What happened today is disgusting and distasteful and we condemn it in the strongest terms. Those involved should immediately apologize,” McAuliffe campaign manager Chris Bolling said in a statement.

Virginia Democrats Executive Director Andrew Whitley also tweeted a response, saying it did not have any role in this event.

Virginia is set to choose between the candidates for governor in an election Tuesday.

Democratic Del. Sally Hudson, who represents Charlottesville in the General Assembly, condemned Friday’s torch-bearing incident as a “stunt.”

“Charlottesville is not a prop. Our community is still reeling from years of trauma - especially this week. Don’t come back, @ProjectLincoln. Your stunts aren’t welcome here,” she tweeted.

A civil trial opened Monday that will determine whether the neo-Nazis and white supremacists who organized the 2017 demonstrations should be held accountable for the violence.

Tiki torches were used by them when they marched on the college campus Aug. 11, 2017, the day before the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. Jason Kessler, listed as an organizer of the rally in a federal lawsuit, carried a tiki torch while participating in that march.

A counterprotester, Heather Heyer, was killed when someone drove a car into a crowd of people.

Copyright 2021 WVIR via Gray Media Group, Inc. The Associated Press contributed to the report. All rights reserved.