Kessler had sought a permit from the city of Charlottesville to hold an event commemorating the "Unite the Right" rally this weekend, but withdrew his request in a federal court hearing late last month, according to city officials.
Several dozen demonstrators from the so-called "antifa", or anti-fascist, movement marched to the spot where Heather Heyer was killed previous year when a man linked to white supremacist groups rammed his auto into counter-protestors.
The security measures seemed to have worked as most of the Saturday's events proceeded in a peaceful manner.
On the lawn, protesters confronted a line of police wearing riot gear.
Jason Kessler, who abandoned his bid to stage a similar anniversary event in Charlottesville, said in his permit application that he expects 100 to 400 people to participate in his event Sunday afternoon in Lafayette Park, in front of the White House.
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images Peter Cvjetanovic, right, appears with neo-Nazis, alt-right supporters and white nationalists holding tiki torches and chanting at counterprotesters in Virginia on August 11, 2017.
Police Chief Peter Newsham said Thursday that the goal "will be to keep the two groups separate".
The chance of that kind of spontaneous mayhem has led to weeks of planning between Washington's law enforcement agencies, which have developed proposals to guard marches leading to the rally and the rally itself, as well as deal with any confrontations that precede or follow it in the streets of Washington. "Our goal is to prevent that from happening". Numerous protesters directed their anger at the heavy police presence, with chants like "cops and Klan go hand in hand", a year after police were harshly criticized for their failure to prevent the violence.
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Trump ignited one of the biggest firestorms of criticism of his presidency over his response to the violent "Unite the Right" rally, in which he drew a moral equivalence between the white supremacists and neo-Nazis that descended on the college town and those who protested against them. Heyer's mother, Susan Bro, started a foundation in her honor, which has given out scholarships and grants to a diverse group of young Americans working against hate. "Looks like it was payback time".
"I felt the need to be here and support the businesses", Falzer said as she ate lunch at a diner on Main Street. We must come together as a nation, ' he wrote on Saturday morning.
On Saturday, Trump condemned "all types of racism" in a Twitter post marking the anniversary. "Peace to all Americans".
The counter-protests in Washington have renewed the debate over whether small demonstrations of racist extremists should be ignored, or greeted with forceful public opposition. Other groups are meeting at locations such as the Lincoln Memorial, the Martin Luther King Memorial, McPherson Square and Farragut Square.
Saturday marked the anniversary of a night march by torch-toting white supremacists through the University of Virginia's campus a day ahead of a larger rally in Charlottesville's downtown. She later said the comments "had nothing to do with race or ethnicity".
Dozens of groups, including the local chapter of Black Lives Matter, will counterprotest in Freedom Plaza.
22-year-old Clara Carlson, who graduated from the university this year, says the rally was created to send a message that "we're still here and we're still fighting". "They are not free-speech advocates for white rights but racist Nazis who want to have a nation for white people only".