Unlawful Assembly Declared at Charlottesville 'Unite the Right Rally'
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency across Virginia Saturday morning after a white nationalist "Unite the Right" rally was broken up as an unlawful assembly. The rally began Friday evening and broke out into violent outbursts with antifa and Black Lives Matter counter-protesters and police.
"I am disgusted by the hatred, bigotry and violence these protesters have brought to our state over the past 24 hours," McAuliffe said in a statement. "At 11:28 a.m., the Virginia State Police contacted me to request a state of emergency and I immediately authorized the declaration. ... I agree that the situation in Charlottesville warrants an emergency declaration."
McAuliffe added that "in the days and weeks leading up to this event," his administration "engaged in extensive planning and preparation to ensure that the rally in Charlottesville could be held in a safe and lawful environment." He reported deploying "a large number of state troopers, as well as the Virginia National Guard for support."
Around noon, Charlottesville police declared an "unlawful assembly," and evacuated Justice Park, the site of the rally.
"State police, Charlottesville police, with the assistance of National Guard personnel, moved the crowd through the streets to disperse them," Corinne Geller, Virginia State Police spokeswoman, told Fox News.
"In the crowds, on all sides, they were throwing bottles, they were throwing soda cans with cement in them, they were throwing paint balls, they were fighting — breaking out and attacking one another — launching chemicals into the crowd, and as well as smoke bombs and so forth," she added. "No local or state police had deployed any tear gas."
Geller would not say which side began the violence.
The "Unite the Right" rally in downtown Charlottesville was scheduled to begin at noon on Saturday, and was originally organized to protest the decision to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee, the general in charge of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the Civil War, from Emancipation Park.
A rally of white nationalist groups marching through Charlottesville with tiki torches was shut down by police Friday night after the march turned violent. The marchers chanted "Anti-White!"
Some warned that the marchers were converging around a black church in Charlottesville Friday night.
The evening rally ended in violence.
Police arrived to disperse the rally, declaring the event an "unlawful assembly."
The violence broke out again on Saturday morning. Here is a video from CNN.
Here is another vantage point on the violence.
The violence continued after the park was shut down. At around 2 p.m. Eastern, a car drove into a crowd of protesters, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
Here is a shocking video.
HuffPost senior reporter Andy Campbell found at least one protester with a Nazi flag.
He also found one wearing a t-shirt quoting Adolf Hitler.
Campbell also shared evidence of protesters being attacked with chemical agents — not from police, but from clashing activists, as the police reported.
Liberals started sharing photos, pinning the protests directly to President Donald Trump.
Liberal activist Amy Siskind went even further. "This Unite the Right Rally in #Charlottesville may as well be the Republican Convention. U let Trump take over ur party. U own this darkness!"
While Trump's campaign did have white nationalist undertones, he and his party decried the violence and protests in Charlottesville. At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) earlier this year, the organizers emphatically condemned the alt-right movement.
"We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for," Trump tweeted Saturday afternoon. "There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Let's come together as one!"
Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel also strongly condemned the protests. "The hate & bigotry on display in Charlottesville is dangerous & cowardly," she tweeted. "Free speech may give them the right to do this but also empowers us to unite to loudly speak out against it."
First Lady Melania Trump also condemned the violence. "Our country encourages freedom of speech, but let's communicate without hate in our hearts. No good comes from violence."