Woman Killed as Car Rams Counter-Protesters at White Nationalist Rally; 2 Cops Killed in Crash
The mayor of Charlottesville, Va., said he's "furious and heartsick" at the death of a counter-protester after a car plowed into a crowd denouncing racism, also injuring at least 19, according to University of Virginia Medical Center.
"I am heartbroken that a life has been lost here. I urge all people of good will--go home," tweeted Mayor Mike Signer, who had urged residents to attend community events intended to counter the white supremacist demonstration instead of facing off in the streets.
A 32-year-old woman, whose name was withheld pending notification of next of kin, was killed. The driver, operating a gray Dodge Challenger with Ohio plates, was arrested a short distance from the scene. He was later identified as James Alex Fields, Jr., 20, of Maumee, Ohio, and is currently charged with second-degree murder, malicious wounding and hit-and-run.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to open a federal terrorism investigation. "The Nazis, the KKK, and white supremacists are repulsive and evil, and all of us have a moral obligation to speak out against the lies, bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred that they propagate," he said in a statement tonight. "Having watched the horrifying video of the car deliberately crashing into a crowd of protesters, I urge the Department of Justice to immediately investigate and prosecute this grotesque act of domestic terrorism."
Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas told reporters that some of the wounded had life-threatening injuries.
Bringing the day's death total to three, a Virginia State Police helicopter crashed near a golf course in Charlottesville shortly before 5 p.m.; two on board were killed while there were no injuries on the ground. Lt. H. Jay Cullen, 48, of Midlothian, Va., and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates of Quinton, Va., were operating in connection with the rally enforcement.
"You pretend that you are patriots, but you are anything but a patriot... you came here today to hurt people, and you did hurt people," Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe blasted the white nationalists at an evening press conference. "...Go home and never come back -- take your hatred and take your bigotry."
Signer similarly slammed "people who belong in the trash heap of history," vowing "this day will not define us."
City officials did not take any questions.
— Kevin Rincon (@KevRincon) August 12, 2017
At a signing for Veterans Affairs reform legislation at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., today, President Trump called the situation in Charlottesville "very very sad."
"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides -- on many sides. It's been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. It's been going on for a long, long time. It has no place in America. What is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives. No citizen should ever fear for their safety and security in our society, and no child should ever be afraid to go outside and play or be with their parents and have a good time," Trump said.
"I just got off the phone with the governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, and we agreed that the hate and the division must stop -- and must stop right now," he added. "We have to come together as Americans with love for our nation and true affection -- and, really, I say this so strongly -- true affection for each other."
McAuliffe declared a state of emergency just before 11:30 a.m. “It is now clear that public safety cannot be safeguarded without additional powers, and that the mostly out-of-state protesters have come to Virginia to endanger our citizens and property. I am disgusted by the hatred, bigotry and violence these protesters have brought to our state over the past 24 hours," McAuliffe said. "The actions I have taken are intended to assist local government and restore public safety."
"We must remember this truth: No matter our color, creed, religion or political party, we are all Americans first. We love our country. We love our God. We love our flag. We are proud of our country. We're proud of who we are. So we want to get the situation straightened out in Charlottesville and we want to study it and we want to see what we're doing wrong as a country, where things like this can happen. My administration is restoring the sacred bonds of loyalty between this nation and its citizens -- but our citizens must also restore the bonds of trust and loyalty between one another," Trump said before shifting to the VA event. "We must love each other, respect each other and cherish our history and our future together. So important. We have to respect each other. Ideally, we have to love each other."
Trump did not answer questions called out by reporters about white nationalists expressing support for Trump.
A planned noontime "Unite the Right" rally at the Robert E. Lee statue in Emancipation Park was blocked off by police and the National Guard as the white nationalist demonstration got heated. Fifteen injuries were reported related to the rally. The "Unite the Right" rally, which included attendees such as David Duke and Richard Spencer, moved to McIntire Park. City officials had tried to move the group's permit to that park because of the expected crowd size, but were stopped by a court that said free speech permitted the protesters to hold their rally at the Confederate statue, which has been pegged for removal by the city.
Duke told reporters that the rally was "a turning point for the people of this country" and an opportunity to "fufill the promises of Donald Trump -- that's what we believed in, that's why we voted for Donald Trump." He later tweeted at Trump: "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."
— Mykal McEldowney (@mykalmphoto) August 12, 2017
On Friday night, the white nationalists marched with tiki torches across the campus of the University of Virginia, with at least one person arrested and several others treated for minor injuries.
"As president of the University of Virginia, I am deeply saddened and disturbed by the hateful behavior displayed by torch-bearing protestors that marched on our Grounds this evening. I strongly condemn the unprovoked assault on members of our community, including University personnel who were attempting to maintain order," university president Teresa Sullivan said in a statement. "Law enforcement continues to investigate the incident, and it is my hope that any individuals responsible for criminal acts are held accountable. The violence displayed on Grounds is intolerable and is entirely inconsistent with the University’s values."
UVA canceled all athletic and academic events today, and the campus hospital postponed elective surgeries.
— Alex Rubinstein (@RealAlexRubi) August 12, 2017
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) tweeted around noon, "The views fueling the spectacle in Charlottesville are repugnant. Let it only serve to unite Americans against this kind of vile bigotry."
"The hate and bigotry witnessed in Charlottesville does not reflect American values. I wholeheartedly oppose their actions," added Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Some lawmakers took issue with Trump's comments. "There are 'many sides' to white nationalist bigotry, but only one color. Are you afraid to name it?" tweeted Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) at the president.
Trump, added Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), "needs to speak out against the poisonous resurgence of white supremacy. There are not 'many sides' here, just right and wrong."
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) tweeted: "Mr. President - we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism."
"We should call evil by its name," tweeted Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). "My brother didn't give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home."
"President Trump needs to specifically condemn the racist nature of the white nationalist violence instead of claiming there is violence 'on many sides,'" said House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). "There are not two sides to this situation."
"The tragedy in Charlottesville this afternoon was domestic terrorism," tweeted Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio). "We must all condemn hatred and white nationalism."
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said he was "disgusted" by the events, "a reprehensible display of racism and hatred that has no place in our society."
"While this incident is alarming, it is not surprising," Sanders said in a statement. "Hate crimes and shows of hostility toward minorities have recently been surging. Now more than ever we must stand together against those who threaten our brothers and sisters."
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) tweeted: "Nothing patriotic about #Nazis,the #KKK or #WhiteSupremacists It's the direct opposite of what #America seeks to be."
"These haters in #Charlotesville are agitators in search of relevance & publicity for a vile cause very few people support," he added. "Can't ignore them,but also don't give them relevance they crave. Only way they win is if they can turn the rest of us against each other."
This story was updated at 11 p.m. EST