Car rams into crowd at violent Virginia rally: witnesses
:: Authorities are on the scene after a vehicle plowed into a group of people marching peacefully through downtown Charlottesville.
An Associated Press reporter saw at least one person on the ground receiving medical treatment immediately afterward the incident, which occurred approximately two hours after violent clashes between white nationalists and counter-protesters.
The nationalists were holding the rally to protest plans by the city of Charlottesville to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
There were several hundred protesters marching in a long line when the car drove into a group of them.
Trump condemns ‘hate’
President Donald Trump on Saturday condemned violence that erupted between white nationalists and counter-demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“We must ALL be united & condemn all that hate stands for,” Trump wrote in a Twitter message. “There is no place for this kind of violence in America.”
Officials had approved the protest march in downtown Charlottesville but cancelled the event and declared a state of emergency after outbreaks of violence.
Faceoff ahead of rally
Right-wing blogger Jason Kessler had called for what he termed a “pro-white” rally to protest the city of Charlottesville’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from a downtown park.
Colleen Cook, 26, stood on a curb shouting at the rally attendees to go home. Cook, a teacher who attended the University of Virginia, said she sent her son, who is black, out of town for the weekend.
“This isn’t how he should have to grow up,” she said.
Cliff Erickson leaned against a fence and took in the scene. He said he thinks removing the statue amounts to erasing history and said the “counterprotesters are crazier than the alt-right.”
“Both sides are hoping for a confrontation,” he said.
It’s the latest confrontation in Charlottesville since the city about 100 miles outside of Washington, D.C., voted earlier this year to remove a statue of Lee.
In May, a torch-wielding group that included prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer gathered around the statue for a nighttime protest, and in July, about 50 members of a North Carolina-based KKK group traveled there for a rally, where they were met by hundreds of counter-protesters.
Kessler said this week that the rally is partly about the removal of Confederate symbols but also about free speech and “advocating for white people.”
“This is about an anti-white climate within the Western world and the need for white people to have advocacy like other groups do,” he said in an interview.
Between rally attendees and counter-protesters, authorities were expecting as many as 6,000 people, Charlottesville police said this week.