White supremacists are casting themselves as police victims in the wake of Charlottesville

White supremacists and nationalists are casting themselves as police victims in the wake of last weekend's deadly riots in Charlottesville, Virginia, alleging that law enforcement did nothing to protect them from anti-fascist counterprotesters.

"They refused to police areas that should have been policed," white nationalist Richard Spencer, who is credited with founding the "alt-right" movement, told reporters from his home on Monday.

"I have never felt like the government or the police are against me," Spencer said. "I always believe that if I do something wrong I'll be punished, but if I'm in the right they are going to protect me. There's never been a situation in my life where I've questioned that — until Saturday."

Spencer was more equivocal, however, when asked whether he has new sympathy for Black Lives Matter activists who say they are profiled and subject to rampant police brutality.

RELATED: White nationalist protesters lead 'Nazi-esque' rally in Charlottesville

19 PHOTOS
White nationalist protesters lead 'Nazi-esque' rally in Charlottesville
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White nationalist protesters lead 'Nazi-esque' rally in Charlottesville
Riot police protect members of the Ku Klux Klan from counter-protesters as they arrive to rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Protesters direct obscene gestures towards members of the Ku Klux Klan, who are rallying in support of Confederate monuments, in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TEMPLATE OUT
Counter-protesters shout at members of the Ku Klux Klan, who are rallying in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments, in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TEMPLATE OUT
Members of the Ku Klux Klan face counter-protesters as they rally in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
A counter-protester is detained as members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Police detain a counter-protester during the aftermath of a rally by members of the Ku Klux Klan in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Counter-protesters lock arms in the middle of a street as police try to disperse them, after members of the Ku Klux Klan rallied in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Police, clergy and free speech observers protect a man wearing a Confederate flag as a cape after he was surrounded by counter-protesters prior to the arrival of members of the Ku Klux Klan to rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Counter-protesters help a man affected by pepper gas as police try to disperse them, after members of the Ku Klux Klan rallied in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Police, clergy and free speech observers protect a man wearing a Confederate flag as a cape after he was surrounded by counter-protesters prior to the arrival of members of the Ku Klux Klan to rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Riot police protect members of the Ku Klux Klan from counter-protesters as they arrive to rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TEMPLATE OUT
Counter-protesters lock arms in the middle of a street as police try to disperse them, after members of the Ku Klux Klan rallied in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments, such as the statue of General Stonewall Jackson above them, in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Members of the Ku Klux Klan, standing near a tomato and and an orange that had been thrown at them by counter-protesters, hold a sign as they rally in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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"There might be a problem among the right of too much of a knee-jerk 'We back the boys in blue,' 'blue lives matter' type thing," Spencer said, referring to pro-police movements. "We probably should be more skeptical."

But he said that while it's one thing to say that Charlottesville police "behaved in a totally reckless manner" last weekend, it's another thing to suggest that there is "a nationwide institutional manhunt among police against black people."

Three people died following the protests: A 32-year-old counterprotester and two state police officers whose helicopter crashed as they were monitoring the riots.

Spencer's condemnations of the Charlottesville police echoed those of white supremacist Jason Kessler, who organized the "Unite the Right" rally and has been tweeting relentlessly about what he characterized as a negligent police response.

"Cops were given stand-down orders to allow violence to shut down rally," Kessler wrote.

Alt-right white nationalist Tim Gionet, better known as Baked Alaska, retweeted several of Spencer's complaints about how police had "failed."

The far-right media outlet Breitbart, meanwhile, seized on a ProPublica report which said that Virginia state police and National Guardsmen "watched passively for hours as self-proclaimed Nazis engaged in street battles with counter-protesters." Breitbart emphasized that ProPublica is left-leaning and alleged that it is funded by the billionaire liberal philanthropist George Soros.

Kessler also retweeted several statements from the Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which wrote on Monday that Charlottesville's policing last weekend "was not effective in preventing violence."

To be sure, the Charlottesville police response has been roundly criticized on both sides.

On the right, the police's "wait-and-see" approach was perceived as a conspiracy: Cops allowed violence to break out so they would have an excuse to shut down the rally. That claim was bolstered by Virginia's ACLU chapter, which tweeted that police stood "passively by, seemingly waiting for violence to take place, so that they'd have grounds to declare 'unlawful assembly.'"

Those on the left, meanwhile, viewed the laissez-faire response as an example of the police's willingness to treat far-right extremists with kid gloves.

"Police in Charlottesville had the same military equipment we saw in Baltimore and Ferguson," wrote MSNBC host Joy Ann Reid. "They just chose not to use them."

"White supremacists actually pushed the police line in Charlottesville & the police just stood there," tweeted Black Lives Matter activist Deray Mckesson.

Charlottesville police chief Al Thomas said on Monday that it was "simply not true" that cops had been told to stand down. But he acknowledged that the police force was "spread thin once the crowds dispersed" and that he has "regrets" about the way the protests were handled.

RELATED: Alt-Right leader Richard Spencer through the years

12 PHOTOS
Alt-Right leader Richard Spencer through the years
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Alt-Right leader Richard Spencer through the years
White nationalist leader Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute speaks on campus at an event not sanctioned by the school, at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, U.S. December 6, 2016. REUTERS/Spencer Selvidge
Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute arrives on campus to speak at an event not sanctioned by the school, at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, U.S. December 6, 2016. REUTERS/Spencer Selvidge
Undocumented Texas A&M students and their supporters protest silently as white nationalist leader Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute speaks on campus at an event not sanctioned by the school, at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, U.S. December 6, 2016. REUTERS/Spencer Selvidge
Organizer Preston Wigginton shakes hands with white nationalist leader Richard Spencer after introducing him at an event on campus not sanctioned by the school, at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, U.S. December 6, 2016. REUTERS/Spencer Selvidge
Jacob Jackson, a freshman international studies major, listens after asking a question to white nationalist leader Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute at an event not sanctioned by the school, at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, U.S. December 6, 2016. REUTERS/Spencer Selvidge
White nationalist leader Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute speaks on campus as a silent protester holds a placard at an event not sanctioned by the school, at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, U.S. December 6, 2016. REUTERS/Spencer Selvidge TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
White nationalist leader Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute speaks on campus during an event not sanctioned by the school, at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, U.S. December 6, 2016. REUTERS/Spencer Selvidge
White nationalist leader Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute waves goodbye after his speech during an event not sanctioned by the school, on campus at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, U.S. December 6, 2016. REUTERS/Spencer Selvidge
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 19: Richard Spencer is in town for the largest white nationalist and Alt Right conference of the year in Washington, DC on November 18, 2016. Spencer, a 38-year-old Dallas native and graduate of St. Mark's School of Texas prep school, is a key intellectual leader of the alternative right, a label he coined in 2008 to describe the radical conservative movement defined by white nationalism and a fervent resistance to multiculturalism and globalism. Spencer currently resides in the resort town of Whitefish, Montana, in what was described as a 'Bavarian-style mansion' in a profile in Mother Jones. He was born in Massachusetts but moved to the Preston Hollow neighborhood of Dallas when he was about 2 years old. 'It was a fairly idyllic, suburban childhood,' Spencer said with a laugh. 'I remember riding bikes around the neighborhood, and so on. I guess you could say I lived in a bubble to a certain extent, like a lot of the kids in that area. But it was very nice.' (Photo by Linda Davidson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 19: Richard Spencer is in town for the largest white nationalist and Alt Right conference of the year in Washington, DC on November 18, 2016. Spencer, a 38-year-old Dallas native and graduate of St. Mark's School of Texas prep school, is a key intellectual leader of the alternative right, a label he coined in 2008 to describe the radical conservative movement defined by white nationalism and a fervent resistance to multiculturalism and globalism. Spencer currently resides in the resort town of Whitefish, Montana, in what was described as a 'Bavarian-style mansion' in a profile in Mother Jones. He was born in Massachusetts but moved to the Preston Hollow neighborhood of Dallas when he was about 2 years old. 'It was a fairly idyllic, suburban childhood,' Spencer said with a laugh. 'I remember riding bikes around the neighborhood, and so on. I guess you could say I lived in a bubble to a certain extent, like a lot of the kids in that area. But it was very nice.' (Photo by Linda Davidson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 20: (L-R) Discussion panelists Peter Brimelow, Jared Taylor, Kevin MacDonald, 'Millenial Woes' (thats the name he goes by) and Richard Spencer field questions at an Alt Right ( alternative right) conference hosted by the National Policy Institute in Washington, DC on November 18, 2016. The think tank promotes white nationalism and critics accuse them of being racist and anti-semitic. The chairman of the National Policy Institute, Richard Spencer, has been permanently banned from entering the UK, and was deemed a 'national security threat' after his arrest in Hungary in 2014. He was recently banned from Twitter in a prominent purge by the company this week. (Photo by Linda Davidson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
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Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe also admitted that the police were reluctant to engage — but only because they were largely outgunned by far-right militias.

"It's easy to criticize, but I can tell you this, 80% of the people here had semiautomatic weapons," McAuliffe told the New York Times on Sunday.

"You saw the militia walking down the street, you would have thought they were an army ... I was just talking to the State Police upstairs; [the militia members] had better equipment than our State Police had," McAuliffe said. "And yet not a shot was fired, zero property damage."

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