White supremacists carrying torches surround church during alt-right rally
The alt-right and neo-Nazis gathered at the University of Virginia (Picture: Getty)

Alt-right activists marched through a university campus holding torches and fought with counter-protesters in terrifying scenes.

At one point during the night of terror at the University of Virginia, the alt-right activists surrounded a church while worshippers, many of whom were black, were inside.

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They held torches in the air and chanted slogans such as ‘one people, one nation, end immigration’ amid violent scenes as they clashed with anti-fascism protesters.

Traci Blackmon, a black woman who was inside the church in Charlottesville, Virginia, described the fear of those people inside.

Writing on Twitter, she said: ‘They are coming for the church! Police all around. They won’t let us go outside. Y’all these KKK are marching with torches!’

White supremacists carrying torches surround church during alt-right rally
It came before another protest which is likely to be even bigger (Picture: Getty)
White supremacists carrying torches surround church during alt-right rally
The ugly scenes have been widely condemned (Picture: Getty)

The shocking scenes happened the night before an organised white supremacist protest that has been described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as the ‘largest hate gathering of its kind in decades in the United States’.

Around 2,000 to 6,000 white nationalists are expected to descend on the town, which is planning to remove a statue of General Robert E. Lee, who led Confederate forces in the US Civil War.

Authorities have strongly condemned the ugly scenes on Friday night.

White supremacists carrying torches surround church during alt-right rally
Some members of the group fought counter-protesters (Picture: Getty)
White supremacists carrying torches surround church during alt-right rally
Hundreds of people, mostly young white men, are thought to have attended (Picture: Getty)

In a statement, Mayor of Charlottesville Mike Signer said: ‘I have seen tonight the images of torches on the grounds of the University of Virginia. When I think of torches, I want to think of the Statue of Liberty. When I think of candlelight, I want to think of prayer vigils.

‘Today, in 2017, we are instead seeing a cowardly parade of hatred, bigotry, racism and intolerance march down the lawns of the architect of our Bill of Rights.

‘I am beyond disgusted by this unsanctioned and despicable display of visual intimidation on a college campus.’

University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan added that an investigation into the ‘intolerable’ violence has been launched.