CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — A rally by the Ku Klux Klan and its supporters to protest the Charlottesville City Council’s decision to remove a statue honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee encountered a loud and angry counterprotest Saturday.

Members of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, based in Pelham, North Carolina near the Virginia border, gathered at Justice Park in a residential neighborhood in downtown Charlottesville. They shouted “white power” and some wore white robes.

About 30 Klansmen were escorted to and from the rally by police in riot gear to protect the rally-goers from about 1,000 counter protesters who greeted them with jeers of “shame.” Some of the Klan members arrived armed, openly carrying handguns in holsters at their belts.

The rally was held about a block from Emancipation Park – the renamed Lee Park – where the statue of Lee astride a horse still stands. Charlottesville police reported that vandals had painted messages on the statue overnight.

After the Klan rally ended, police led several people away in handcuffs when a large group of counterprotesters remained near the vicinity of the park. Police asked those still gathered nearby to disperse.

Police declared the counterprotesters “an unlawful assembly” and used gas cannisters to compel them to leave the area.