A new report outlines how the city failed to protect free expression and public safety.
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The police are supposed to keep order and let people exercise their Constitutional rights. When they don’t, people get hurt and even die.
Last summer in Charlottesville, in a clash between neo-Nazis and confederate monument supporters on one side, and “antifa,” or anti-facist, and Black Lives Matter supporters on the other, numerous people were hurt, and one person, Heather Heyer, was killed when a white nationalist supporter drove his car into a crowd. Now an independent report has come out, suggesting that much of the blame for the clashes, injuries and death lies with poor police work by the Charlottesville Police Department, the Virginia State Police and the University of Virginia Police.
The report, authored by former U.S. attorney Timothy Heaphy for the Charlottesville City Council, found, as reported by USA Today:
• Charlottesville police didn’t ensure separation between counter-protesters and so called alt-right protesters upset with the city council’s decision to remove the Robert E. Lee statue from Emancipation Park.
• Officers weren’t stationed along routes to the park, but instead remained behind barricades in relatively empty zones.
• City police didn’t adequately coordinate with Virginia State Police, and authorities were unable to communicate via radio.
• State police didn’t share a formal planning document with city police, “a crucial failure.”
• Officers were inadequately equipped to respond to the clashes between the two groups, and tactical gear was not accessible to officers.
Furthermore, though no specific evidence of a “stand down” order was found, as some have charged, the report did find that police didn’t do their jobs: “We did not find evidence of a direct order to officers to ‘stand down’ and not respond to fights and other disorders. Even if there was no explicit ‘stand down’ order in place, CPD and VSP both failed to ‘stand up’ to protect human life.” Areas where conflict could be expected to…