White nationalists clashed with counter-protesters before police moved in and dispersed the crowd at a demonstration in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia. Alt-right activists and white supremacists planned to protest the city’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from the city’s Emancipation Park.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency in the city to aid in the local response. He blamed “mostly out-of-state protesters” for the violence and clashes.
“I am disgusted by the hatred, bigotry and violence these protesters have brought to our state over the past 24 hours,” McAuliffe said in a statement. He said state troopers and the Virginia National Guard were providing support to local authorities.
In a tweet, President Trump said Americans must “condemn all that hate stands for,” saying “there is no place for violence in America.”
After a series of earlier confrontations in Emancipation Park, police declared the assembly unlawful and officers in riot gear began to clear the area shortly after noon. The crowd quickly dispersed and police cleared the area, which had earlier been the site of aggressive clashes.
Jason Kessler, the organizer behind the “Unite the Right” rally, told CBS News he plans to sue the city for violating a court order permitting the rally to be held in the park.
“Our First Amendment rights were violated today,” Kessler said by phone. He said the city of Charlottesville and McAuliffe violated the court ruling because they “didn’t like the outcome.”
Some protesters who came for the “Unite the Right” rally were armed and dressed in military-like clothing, while others wore shirts with Nazi symbols and quotes from Adolf Hitler. Another read “diversity is just a genocidal scam.”
The protest turned violent well ahead of the rally’s official noon start time. At least two people were treated for serious but non-life-threatening emergencies from altercations by 10:30 a.m. Counter-protesters flooded the area to square off with the group of alt-right activists and white supremacists. Police deployed tear gas…