Charlottesville police and firefighter/paramedics responded about 1:45 p.m. Saturday August 12, 2017 to the area of Water Street and 4th Street where a three-vehicle crash involved an apparent intentional clash with counter protester pedestrians preparing to march against the “Unite the Right” rally.
Crowds with opposite ideologies were gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia when shouting and kicking and punching was witnessed between groups, ahead of Saturday’s “Unite the Right” rally of white nationalists and other right-wing groups.
Live video showed a gray Dodge Challenger with tinted windows running down a street at excessive speed and rear-ending a silver convertible sedan and injuring multiple pedestrians. The silver sedan was pushed into another vehicle that hit more people. The driver of the Dodge Challenger, with front-end damage, then backed up in the street for at least a block or two with counter protesters chasing the car running or on bicycles. Witnesses reported the car did not have license plates.
The Associated Press is reporting that a vehicle plowed into a group of counter-protesters.
A witness told CBS News reporter Paula Reid, “A car appeared to deliberately mow down pedestrians.”
Charlottesville Communications Director Miriam I. Dickler reported city and state police were working the multiple-injury crash at Water Street and 4th Street in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia.
Clashes were occurring ahead of a meeting of ministers at the Robert E. Lee statue war monument, which is the subject of a controversial removal process.
Two people have been injured after an altercation during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia today according to the city of Charlottesville’s verified twitter account. The injuries are characterized as serious but non-life threatening.
The Charlottesville City Council voted in April 2017 to remove the statue. A lawsuit was filed by numerous plaintiffs, including the Sons of Confederate Veterans, to block the removal of the Lee statue. The lawsuit is using a Virginia statute dating back to 1902 that protects all war monuments in the state of Virginia. The city argued that the statues of the two Confederate Generals were not erected to commemorate the Civil War and therefore the Virginia statute protecting war monuments does not apply to them.
On May 2, 2017 Judge Richard Moore issued a temporary injunction, blocking the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue for six months, pending a court decision in the suit.
A statue of Stonewall Jackson is involved in similar controversy.
On May 14, 2017, Richard B. Spencer, who is an American white supremacist banned from 26 countries in Europe, led a torch-lit protest in Lee Park. The May protest was also met with counter-protesters.
On July 8, 2017, about 50 Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan held a rally in Charlottesville, protesting the city’s plan to remove the statue were outnumbered by several hundred counter-protesters. Charlottesville police used tear gas to disperse the crowd, and arrested 23 people.
On August 11, 2017 after dark, Unite the Right protesters met at the University of Virginia campus, carry torches and chanting. Chemical spray was allegedly deployed on several marchers, and only one arrest was initially reported in connection with the rally. Unite the Right supporters were chanting “You will not replace us” and counter protester chanted “Black lives matter.”
In daylight Saturday August 12, 2017 counter protesters clashed with Unite the Right protesters, and were heard chanting “Nazi scum, off our streets” and “Black lives matter.” Several apparent Unite the Right supporters were wearing helmets, carrying flags, carrying large body shields and wearing clothing with a white emblem and a black X.
The governor of Virginia declared a state of emergency in Charlottesville on Saturday, and armored police with loudspeakers announced that “this event has been declared an unlawful assembly; you are to leave the area or you will be arrested” during the second day of clashing over the plan to remove the Robert E. Lee statue and on the day of the Dodge Challenger crash into the crowd.
The Virginia National Guard, Virginia State Police, and the Charlottesville police continued to enforce peace Saturday afternoon.
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Dozens of white supremacists staged a nationalist rally in Virginia, local media reported, adding that the torch-lit demonstration resulted in scuffles, injuries and possible arrests.