A car plowed into a group of counter-protesters at a white nationalist rally in Virginia on Saturday afternoon, news reports said. Several people were reported with injuries from minor to life-threatening. Several hundred protesters were marching in a long line down a street in Charlottesville, VA when a car drove into a group of them, then quickly backed out and sped away. The person driving the car has already been apprehended and arrested. One Twitter user has identified the person in the car as a member of the violent leftist group Antifa.
— Alex Rubinstein (@RealAlexRubi) August 12, 2017
***Warning***Video is graphic:
— Nate (@AnarchoKhomeini) August 12, 2017
LA Times – The origin of the weekend’s events can be traced back to the city’s decision to order the removal of a statute of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from one of its parks, whose name was changed from Lee Park to Emancipation Park. The statue has not yet been removed.
Attendees of the “Unite the Right” rally, which had been in the works for weeks, included white nationalists, Neo-Nazis and other far-right figures drawn from around the nation. Many came prepared for the possibility of a fight. Some militia members in military-style fatigues and open-carrying assault-style AR-15 rifles also came to watch the action.
In morning news footage, white nationalists in helmets, who were holding plastic shields, and anti-racism protesters carrying red banners could be seen skirmishing with each other on a city street, with someone spraying what appeared to be a crowd-control substance at the counter-protesters. Virginia state police said pepper spray was being released by crowd members.
Attendees and journalists at the scene had said that police were not intervening to break up many of the fights, which were shared on social media.
Far-right speakers had been scheduled to address the rally attendees, but that didn’t happen. Charlottesville city and Abermarle County officials declared a local state of emergency to ask for more law enforcement resources if necessary, citing “imminent threat of civil disturbance, unrest, potential injury to persons, and destruction of public and personal property” in their formal declaration. Police declared an unlawful assembly soon after.
Rally organizer Jason Kessler blamed the chaos on the city’s recent attempts to restrict the rally’s location, disrupting organizers’ plans. He said some far-right leaders had been boxed into a small area by police, who are not allowing speakers into a park area to speak as planned.
“There are so many people that have come in, that have been Maced in the eyes, like half of our speakers have been Maced,” Kessler said in a livestream video. “There’s not a … single Charlottesville police officer out there protecting our guys.”
The event also had drawn a range of counter-protesters, including anti-fascists and interfaith clergy.
New York Post – Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency — after which authorities ordered hundreds of people out of the downtown Charlottesville park, where hundreds of right wing activists, holding shields and swinging clubs, were protesting the removal of a Confederate statue.
Among those attending were Ku Klux Plan Imperial Wizard David Duke, alt-right leader Richard Spencer and white nationalist Jason Kessler, the rally’s organizer.
The hundreds of counter-protestors included Black Lives Matter activists and Princeton professor Cornel West.
Protestors threw punches, hurled plastic bottles and sprayed chemical irritants on each other. Several men were seen with blood running down their faces.
Using megaphones, cops ordered everyone out of Emancipation Park at about 11:40 a.m. The rally had been scheduled for noon.
Unlike Barack Obama, President Trump didn’t choose sides in the conflict, nor did he remain silent, signaling that he approved of the violence Americans were using against each other. President Trump instead, took to Twitter to condemn the hate and violence by protesters, asking Americans to “come together as one”:
We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2017
First Lady Melania Trump also spoke out against the violent protest on Twitter earlier today:
Our country encourages freedom of speech, but let's communicate w/o hate in our hearts. No good comes from violence. #Charlottesville
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) August 12, 2017
Leftists on Twitter immediately blamed President Trump and his supporters for the violence:
— Reasonable Human (@ajmcdermott615) August 12, 2017
We’ll wait to see who was behind the wheel of the car who struck people walking down the street with a vehicle as a way to show their disapproval for their opposing views.
Police have already arrested the person driving the vehicle that ran into protesters.
One Twitter user is saying the person who struck several people with his vehicle is an Antifa thug, who we all know by now are supported by George Soros.
— USA NEWS (@USANEWS007) August 12, 2017