Charlottesville: Three dead, dozens hurt after Virginia white nationalist rally
- A planned protest in Virginia by white nationalists was abandoned on Saturday after a spate of violence prompted the governor to declare a state of emergency and law enforcement officers to clear the area.
The turmoil began with a march Friday night and escalated Saturday morning as hundreds of white nationalists gathered. Waving Confederate flags, chanting Nazi-era slogans, wearing helmets and carrying shields, they converged on a statue of Robert E. Lee in the city’s Emancipation Park and began chanting phrases like “You will not replace us,” and “Jew will not replace us.”
Hundreds of counterprotesters quickly surrounded the crowd, chanting and carrying their own signs.
By 11 a.m., the scene had exploded into taunting, shoving and outright brawling. Barricades encircling the park and separating the two sides began to come down, and police temporarily retreated.
The police cleared the area before noon, and the Virginia National Guard arrived as officers began arresting some who remained for unlawful assembly.
A couple of hours later, a car plowed into a crowd of counterprotesters, a woman died and at least 19 people were injured.
The car slow as it approached the counterprotesters and then suddenly speed up, ramming into the car in front of it and the crowd itself.
Twenty-year-old James Fields from Ohio, the alleged driver of the car, is in detention on suspicion of second-degree murder.
Emergency medical personnel treated eight people after the earlier clashes, the Charlottesville Police Department said.
The city of Charlottesville declared a state of emergency at around 11 a.m., citing an “imminent threat of civil disturbance, unrest, potential injury to persons, and destruction of public and personal property.”
The protest, billed as a “Unite the Right” rally, was the culmination of a year and a half of debate in Charlottesville over the fate of the Lee statue. A movement to remove it began when an African-American high school student here started a petition. The City Council voted 3 to 2 in April to sell it, but a judge issued an injunction temporarily stopping the move.
- source : New York Times