Charlottesville, Va. Rally Turns Violent, Deadly

AP Photo/Steve Helber

(AP) – Hundreds of people are faced off in Charlottesville ahead of a white nationalist rally planned in the Virginia city’s downtown.

Rally supporters and counter-protesters screamed, chanted, threw punches, hurled water bottles and unleashed chemical sprays on each other Saturday morning.

Men were dressed in militia uniforms were carrying shields and openly carrying long guns. Right-wing blogger Jason Kessler planned what he called a “pro-white” rally to protest Charlottesville’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from a city park. Thousands of people are expected to pack the area.

There were also fights Friday night, when hundreds of white nationalists marched through the University of Virginia campus carrying torches.

A university spokesman said one person was arrested and several people were injured.

Virginia’s governor declared a state of emergency. Gov. Terry McAuliffe said via his Twitter account on Saturday morning that the declaration was made in order “to aid state response to violence” at the rally about 100 miles outside of Washington, D.C.

The city’s manager also declared a local emergency and police ordered people to disperse from the area around the statue after several violent clashes broke out.

The NHL’s Detroit Red Wings released a statement denouncing the use of their logo at the white nationalist rally and said they are considering legal action to stop it.

The team says it “vehemently” disagrees with and is not associated with the event. The Red Wings add they are “exploring every possible legal action as it pertains to the misuse of our logo in this disturbing demonstration.”

A Michigan-based white nationalist group called the Detroit Right Wings uses the Red Wings’ logo. The organization posted on its Twitter account that members had arrived in Charlottesville.

President Donald Trump tweeted about the violence that has erupted.

Trump tweeted Saturday that “we ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for.” He then wrote “There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!”

Some of the white nationalists cited Trump’s victory as validation for their beliefs.

The White House was silent for hours about the clashes except for a solitary tweet from First Lady Melania Trump. The president has received previous criticism for being slow to condemn acts of hate done in his name.

Later, authorities are on the scene after a vehicle plowed into a group of people marching peacefully through downtown Charlottesville.

An Associated Press reporter saw at least one person on the ground receiving medical treatment immediately afterward the incident. It occurred approximately two hours after violent clashes between white nationalists and counter-protesters.

University of Virginia Medical Center spokewoman Angela Taylor confirmed to the Associated Press that one person had died and 19 were injured.

There were several hundred protesters marching in a long line when the car drove into a group of them.

The mayor of Charlottesville said via Twitter on Saturday that he is “heartbroken” to announce that a “life has been lost.” He did not provide details.

Video of the incident shows a silver Dodge Charger crashing into a car where protesters were marching and then rapidly reversing away.

Michael Nigro, a photojournalist from Brooklyn, told reporters shortly after the incident he heard the screech of tires and saw a gray Charger accelerate toward the group.┬áNigro says it was “chaos and mayhem” as bodies flew.

Additionally, Virginia state police said one of their agency’s helicopters crashed Saturday outside Charlottesville, killing two troopers. Police said the helicopter was assisting law enforcement officers monitoring the rally.

Police said Lt. H. Jay Cullen of Midlothian and Trooper-Pilot Burke M.M. Bates of Quinton were killed in the crash.

 

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