One killed, 26 injured as car plows into counter-protesters after Virginia far-right event
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One killed, 26 injured as car plows into counter-protesters after Virginia far-right event

Charlottesville incident described as 'intentional,' follows clashes between white nationalists, opponents; driver in custody; Trump condemns violence 'on many sides'

  • Rescue workers and medics tend to many people who were injured when a car plowed through a crowd of counter-demonstrators marching through the downtown shopping district August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia.  (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP)
    Rescue workers and medics tend to many people who were injured when a car plowed through a crowd of counter-demonstrators marching through the downtown shopping district August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP)
  • Rescue workers and medics tend to a man injured when a car plowed through a crowd of counter-demonstrators marching against white nationalists through the downtown shopping district August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia.  (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP)
    Rescue workers and medics tend to a man injured when a car plowed through a crowd of counter-demonstrators marching against white nationalists through the downtown shopping district August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP)
  • Rescue workers move victims on stretchers after car plowed through a crowd of counter-demonstrators marching through the downtown shopping district August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP)
    Rescue workers move victims on stretchers after car plowed through a crowd of counter-demonstrators marching through the downtown shopping district August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP)
  • Rescue workers move victims on stretchers after car plowed through a crowd of counter-demonstrators marching through the downtown shopping district August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP)
    Rescue workers move victims on stretchers after car plowed through a crowd of counter-demonstrators marching through the downtown shopping district August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP)
  • A woman receives first-aid after a car ran into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12, 2017. (AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards)
    A woman receives first-aid after a car ran into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12, 2017. (AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards)

One person was killed and at least 26 were injured when a car plowed into counter-protesters marching in Charlottesville, Virginia against a far-right “Unite the Right” rally in the city which saw violent clashes between white nationalists and their opponents earlier in the day.

Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer said on Twitter that he was “heartbroken that a life has been lost here,” and urged “all people of good will — go home.”

A witness estimated a dozen had been hurt in the collision — which he called “intentional” — saying one girl got “tore up” after the car “backed up and they hit again.”

He said the dark sedan “raced down here, jumped over the speed bumps and it backed up and it hit everyone again.”

“There was a girl that was on the ground; she was trying to get up,” he added.

Police said the driver of the car was in custody.

WARNING: Graphic footage

Video footage showed a number of people on the ground bleeding after the car struck. An Associated Press reporter saw at least one person receiving medical treatment immediately afterward the incident.

US President Donald Trump addressed the incident in a press conference, saying: “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. On many sides.”

“What is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order, and the protection of innocent lives,” he said in a statement without mentioning white nationalism and white supremacy. The president then went on to speak about his administration’s alleged achievements in creating jobs for America and other issues.

The suspected vehicular attack occurred approximately two hours after the height of the violent clashes between the white nationalists and the counter-protesters.

The demonstrations were dispersed earlier and the white supremacist rally was shut down after the Virginia governor, Terry McAuliffe, called a state of emergency and riot police moved in to clear the crowds gathered at Emancipation Park in the city.

Members of the opposing groups then held marches in the streets around the park when the vehicular incident occurred.

There were several hundred protesters marching in a long line when the car drove into a group of them.

Sporadic violent skirmishes were reported between the sides before that, including one incident where a gun was allegedly drawn by a white nationalist against a protester.

Police earlier began evacuating Emancipation Park and making arrests after declaring those gathered there to be part of an “unlawful assembly.” There were two “serious but not life-threatening” injuries, police reported on Twitter.

Police intervention came right before the “Unite the Right” rally was set to start at noon local time. The white nationalists, including KKK supporters, and neo-Nazis were planning to protest the city’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee near the park.

The demonstrations began Friday in Charlottesville with white nationalists marching through town and while carrying lit torches. The demonstrators then clashed with counter-protesters. Some of the white nationalists cited Trump’s victory as validation for their beliefs.

The White House was silent for hours about the clashes except for a solitary tweet from First Lady Melania Trump, followed by a tweet from the president, who has received previous criticism for being slow to condemn acts of hate done in his name.

On Saturday, he called for unity and tweeted that “there is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!”

David Duke, a former imperial wizard of the KKK and a Trump supporter, appeared to be angered by the president’s tweet, replying: “I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists.”

Charlottesville Mayor Signer said earlier that he was disgusted that the white nationalists had come to his town and blamed Trump for inflaming racial prejudices with his campaign last year.

“I’m not going to make any bones about it. I place the blame for a lot of what you’re seeing in American today right at the doorstep of the White House and the people around the president,” he said.

On Saturday before the march, white supremacist groups, including the KKK, and so-called “alt-right” supporters as well as other nationalist groups, and members of Black Lives Matter, faith leaders and antifa (anti-fascist), a far-left group whose activists often dress in black and wear balaclavas, screamed, chanted, threw punches, hurled water bottles and unleashed chemical sprays on each other.

Confederate flags and some Nazi regalia, including a flag, were also on display.

In light of the unrest, city leaders declared a state of emergency, determining “the imminent threat of civil disturbance, unrest, potential injury to persons, and destruction of public and personal property to be of sufficient severity and magnitude to warrant coordinated local government action.”

Chants including “Black Lives Matter,” “No Nazis, No KKK, No Fascist USA,” were heard, as well as, on the other side, “Fuck you, faggots” and “Blood and soil,” a racist German phrase coined in the late 19th century and popularized with the rise of Nazism.

Men wearing shields and helmets and carrying flags of various white nationalist groups were seen filing in to the park before the rally, which was blocked off to counter-protesters and the media briefly by members of a number of state militias wearing fatigues and carrying weapons, including assault rifles.

The march drew well-known far-right figures, including the leader of the so-called “alt-right” Richard Spencer, a white nationalist who was famously punched in the face in Washington after Trump’s inauguration, a moment that was caught on video and circulated worldwide.

Earlier, the counter-demonstrators had shouted “From the Midwest to the South, punch a Nazi in the mouth,” — a reference to the Spencer incident — and “Nazi scum” at far-right attendees.

One man retorted with “anti-white, out of my sight” at the counter-demonstrators, in a live feed posted on Facebook.

At one point, a “we have already won” chant emanated from the crowd, a likely reference to the election of Trump.

Both the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center, which track extremist groups, said the Saturday event had the potential to be the largest of its kind in at least a decade.

On Friday night, hundreds of torch-wielding white supremacists marched through the University of Virginia campus, chanting racist slogans and clashing with a small group of counter-demonstrators.

In videos of the march, which lasted about 20 minutes late Friday, the far-right activists could be seen using the torches and ropes to beat the counter-demonstrators next to a statue of Thomas Jefferson.

Many of them chanted “White lives matter!” “You will not replace us!” and “Jews will not replace us!”

Several can also be seen giving the Nazi salute and using the Nazi slogan “blood and soil.”

Police intervened after some of the demonstrators were sprayed with tear gas.

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