WATCH: 1 Dead, 26 Injured as Car Plows Into Crowd Protesting White Nationalist Rally in Charlottesville, VA

One person was killed and 19 were injured in Charlottesville, Virginia, after a car plowed through a group of counter-protesters who were demonstrating against an alt-right and white nationalists rally.

A spokesperson for University of Virginia Hospital told NBC News that 20 patients were admitted to the hospital — 19 injuries and one fatality. Her words confirmed a tweet sent by Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer that said someone had been killed.

Police initially described it as a three vehicle accident. The driver of one vehicle was taken into custody, according to Charlottesville Police.

Described as a group of “anti-racist protesters” by a witness who took video of the crash, the group of marchers were packed close together at the end of a street near the intersection of Fourth Street and Water Street in downtown Charlottesville.

Brennan Gilmore, a 37-year-old who works for a start up, shot the footage and said he heard tires squealing before he saw a gray Dodge Charger build up speed and ram the crowd. It hit a number of people before plowing into the bumper of another car.

“It was very clearly intentional,” Gilmore told NBC News. “From the far end of the street it accelerated, slowed down right before the crowd and then slammed on the gas through the crowd sending bodies flying. And then it reversed back into the street dragging bodies and clothes.”

The car then backed up and fled the scene.

Different groups of protesters clashed with hundreds of white nationalists, Ku Klux Klan members and neo-Nazis throughout the day ahead of the noon rally, but they began to disperse after Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency and police told attendees to depart.

Police reported that eight were injured in those scuffles and one person was arrested.

President Donald Trump called the series of events terrible, but was criticized for not providing a full-throated condemnation of the white nationalist elements of the protests, which included former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke and white nationalist leader Richard Spencer.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred bigotry and violence on many sides,” the president said during a Saturday press conference. “On many sides.”

When asked to clarify what the president meant by “many sides,” a White House official said Trump “was condemning hatred, bigotry and violence from all sources and all sides. There was violence between protesters and counter protesters today.”

Trump did not respond when reporters asked whether the Charlottesville car crash was terrorism or if he denounced white nationalism.

The most recent incident came after torch-wielding white nationalists marched through the University of Virginia campus on Friday night. Friday and Saturday’s alt-right rallies were held to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

SOURCE: PHIL MCCAUSLAND, EMMANUELLE SALIBA, MOIRA DONOHUE
NBC News


Trump Condemns Violence in Charlottesville in “Strongest Possible Terms”

President Donald Trump sparked backlash Saturday when he suggested “many sides” were to blame for the deadly violence at a white nationalist rally in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred bigotry and violence on many sides,” Trump said in prepared remarks from Bedminister, New Jersey, where he has been on a “working vacation.”

He added that hate and division in the country must stop, but that it is not linked to his presidency because it has “been going on for a long, long time.”

“No matter our color, creed, religion, our political party, we are all Americans first,” he said, adding that he’d like for his administration to “study” why such violence is occurring. He didn’t take questions from reporters.

The White House also clarified who the “many sides” are: “The President was condemning hatred, bigotry and violence from all sources and all sides. There was violence between protesters and counter protesters today.”

Some Democrats, however, were quick to call out Trump’s language and apparent failure to single out white nationalists, who had organized Saturday’s “Unite the Right” rally.

Mark Herring, Virginia’s attorney general, immediately tweeted that the “violence, chaos, and apparent loss of life in Charlottesville is not the fault of ‘many sides.’ It is racists and white supremacists.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., also tweeted that Trump “needs to speak out against the poisonous resurgence of white supremacy. There are not ‘many sides’ here, just right and wrong.”

Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, added that the president’s job is “moral leadership. He has failed. There are NOT many sides to this.”

Trump has been criticized in the past for taking too long to reject support from white supremacists.

During the 2016 election, David Duke, the former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, endorsed him.

At the time, Trump told CNN: “Just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke, OK? I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. So I don’t know, did he endorse me or what’s going on.”

Earlier Saturday, the president and other lawmakers decried the events at Virginia rally as hateful, as video images showed demonstrators hurling bottles, fighting and yelling slurs and obscenities.

Politicians on both sides of the aisle agreed that such speech, which included racist and anti-Semitic slurs, should be condemned. Some emphasized that while they support freedom of speech and assembly, they do not condone the violence and racism seen in Charlottesville.

House Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted the views expressed in the city were “repugnant” and “vile bigotry.”

At least one person was killed and 19 injured when a car plowed into a group of marchers as they walked through the streets.

The “Unite the Right” rally was supposed to be protesting the planned removal of a statue honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in the city’s Emancipation Park.

State police and members of the Virginia National Guard surrounded the park after Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency before the noon start time and city officials declared the rally an unlawful assembly. That effectively ended the rally’s start, and Emancipation Park remained empty.

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SOURCE: NBC News


ASSOCIATED PRESS

A car plowed into a crowd of people peacefully protesting a white nationalist rally Saturday in a Virginia college town, killing one person, sending at least 26 others to hospitals and ratcheting up tension in an increasingly violent confrontation.

The chaos boiled over at what is believed to be the largest group of white nationalists to come together in a decade: the governor declared a state of emergency, police dressed in riot gear ordered people out and helicopters circled overhead. The group had gathered to protest plans to remove a statue of the Confederal Gen. Robert E. Lee, and others who arrived to protest the racism.

Matt Korbon, a 22-year-old University of Virginia student, said several hundred counter-protesters were marching when “suddenly there was just this tire screeching sound.” A silver sedan smashed into another car, then backed up, barreling through “a sea of people.”

The impact hurled people into the air. Those left standing scattered, screaming and running for safety in different directions.

The driver was later arrested, authorities said.

The turbulence began Friday night, when the white nationalists carried torches though the university campus in what they billed as a “pro-white” demonstration. It quickly spiraled into violence Saturday morning. Hundreds of people threw punches, hurled water bottles and unleashed chemical sprays. At least eight were injured and one arrested in connection.

President Donald Trump condemned “in the strongest possible terms” what he called an “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides” after the clashes. He called for “a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives.”

Trump says he’s spoken with the governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, and “we agreed that the hate and the division must stop and must stop right now.”

But some of the white nationalists cited Trump’s victory as validation for their beliefs, and Trump’s critics pointed to the president’s racially tinged rhetoric as exploiting the nation’s festering racial tension.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson noted that Trump for years publicly questioned President Barack Obama’s citizenship.

“We are in a very dangerous place right now,” he said.

Right-wing blogger Jason Kessler had called for what he termed a “pro-white” rally in Charlottesville. White nationalists and their opponents promoted the event for weeks.

Oren Segal, who directs the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, said multiple white power groups gathered in Charlottesville, including members of neo-Nazi organizations, racist skinhead groups and Ku Klux Klan factions.

The white nationalist organizations Vanguard America and Identity Evropa; the Southern nationalist League of the South; the National Socialist Movement; the Traditionalist Workers Party; and the Fraternal Order of Alt Knights also were on hand, he said, along with several groups with a smaller presence.

On the other side, anti-fascist demonstrators also gathered in Charlottesville, but they generally aren’t organized like white nationalist factions, said Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Many others were just locals caught in the fray.

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 “counter-protesters 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.

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

“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.

Charlottesville, nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, is a liberal-leaning city that’s home to the flagship University of Virginia and Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson.

The statue’s removal is part of a broader city effort to change the way Charlottesville’s history of race is told in public spaces. The city has also renamed Lee Park, where the statue stands, and Jackson Park, named for Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. They’re now called Emancipation Park and Justice Park, respectively.

For now, the Lee statue remains. A group called the Monument Fund filed a lawsuit arguing that removing the statue would violate a state law governing war memorials. A judge has agreed to temporarily block the city from removing the statue for six months.

SOURCE: SARAH RANKIN
ASSOCIATED PRESS