CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — The college town of Charlottesville, Virginia, is reeling after violent clashes erupted between a large gathering of white nationalists and hundreds of counter protesters. Three people were killed amid the turmoil that has exposed the nation’s roiling racial and political divisions.
A federal investigation is underway after a 20-year-old Ohio man allegedly rammed his vehicle into a crowd of anti-racism protesters, killing a woman and seriously injuring scores of others.
Virginia State Police are also investigating after two troopers died when their helicopter, which had been deployed to the protests, crashed outside the city.
Here’s a look at what’s happening in Charlottesville and the reaction so far:
White nationalists descended on the city this week to rally against plans to remove the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from a city park.
The gathering is believed to be the largest in a decade of such groups, including neo-Nazis, skinheads and members of the Ku Klux Klan. Hundreds of other people came out to protest against the racism.
Fights broke out Friday night, when hundreds of white nationalists marched through the University of Virginia campus carrying torches. The violence escalated Saturday with street brawls and clashes.
Rally supporters and counter-protesters threw punches, hurled water bottles and unleashed chemical sprays. Men dressed in militia uniforms were carrying shields and long guns.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency. Police in riot gear ordered people out. Helicopters circled overhead.
THE CAR CRASH
A 32-year-old woman was killed when a Dodge Challenger suddenly barreled through a street filled with peaceful counter protesters Saturday afternoon. The impact hurled people into the air, and video of the crash shows the car reversing and hitting more people.
The woman killed, Heather Heyer, was hit as she crossed the street.
State police identified the driver as 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr., who had recently moved to Ohio from where he grew up in Kentucky. He was charged with second-degree murder and other counts.
His mother, Samantha Bloom, told The Associated Press she knew her son was attending a rally in Virginia but didn’t know it was a white supremacist rally. She said: “I thought it had something to do with Trump. Trump’s not a white supremacist.” She became visibly upset as she learned of the injuries and deaths.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said…