One Dead After Car Plows Into Anti-Racist March
Above photo: White Nationalists charge into the counter-protesters, beating them with sticks, while throwing white smoke grenades. Photo: John Zanga
Charlottesville, VA – Anti-fascist and anti-racist counter-protestors confronted a planned white nationalist gathering in downtown Charlottesville on Saturday. Multiple angry clashes between groups in the morning resulted in many injuries.
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency and Virginia State Police moved in to end the protest. The Virginia National Guard was deployed and began patrolling Charlottesville.
But, in the early afternoon, a silver Challenger driving at high speed plowed through a march of anti-racist counter-protestors forming on 4th Street, tossing several people into the air like rag dolls before ramming into the rear end of another car. It appeared the car was driven deliberately into the crowd, then reversed and sped backwards.
One person (later identified as 32-year old Heather Heyer) was killed and 19 people were injured.
Jason Charter, a Washington DC activist, witnessed the car incident as he stood feet from it. “I heard the car screeching and I turned and see it ramming people, throwing them on the windshield and into the air,” he said. “I ran to help people and make sure they were ok and people were everywhere screaming medic.”
Charter said that moments after the car backed up, medics were on the scene helping the inured. He was shaken up by the incident.
As many as 30 right-wing groups, led by Alt-Right personality Richard Spencer and accompanied by known supremacist David Duke, rallied at Emancipation Park over city plans to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
The clashes erupted almost from the start of the permitted protests, which began at 10 a.m. Elements from the KKK, Neo-Nazis and the Alt-Right, were met at every turn by about 1,000 counter-protesters.
Mace and tear gas was sprayed with bottles, sticks and smoke grenades thrown by White Nationalists toward Antifa. Antifa returned volleys as White Nationalists waded into the Antifa to attack them with sticks and smoke grenades.
Police formed lines between two rows of barricades, separating Nationalists from counter-protesters. But for an unknown reason police pulled back as more Nationalists arrived, marching in a column down Market Street to confront Antifa. It was at this point that the confrontations saw their most bloody moments.
Citizen militias assembled, carrying automatic weapons from Virginia, West Virginia and as far away as New York, claiming they were there to form a buffer between sides.
White supremacists have descended on Charlottesville since City Council voted to take down a statue of General Lee in an effort to remove Southern Heritage symbols of the Civil War. On Friday night, Neo-Nazis carried torches through the Grounds of the University of Virginia, chanting Nazi Germany slogan “Blood and Soil.” They attacked, beat and maced anti-racist protestors. Conflict also broke out when anti-fascists confronted White Nationalists at the Lee statue.
Update: A police helicopter which had been monitoring the protests crashed following the dispersal. Initial reports are that two died in the crash.
Tweets from Charlottesville:
— Keaton (@keatonc33) August 12, 2017
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) August 12, 2017
Video: Alt-right marcher shouting "Heil, Trump" while waving nazi salute
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) August 12, 2017
— ACLU of Virginia (@ACLUVA) August 12, 2017
— Rose (@as_told_by_rose) August 13, 2017
— syed (@syedraza715) August 12, 2017
— OverpassLightBrigade (@OLBLightBrigade) August 13, 2017
— M. H Arsalai (@ArsalaiH) August 13, 2017
A lot of businesses in downtown Charlottesville with these signs. pic.twitter.com/fyebIpgqnF
— Christopher Mathias (@letsgomathias) August 12, 2017
— Kali G (@OrbitCity210) August 13, 2017
— Andrew Stroehlein (@astroehlein) August 13, 2017
— Lee Camp [Redacted] (@LeeCamp) August 13, 2017
Atlanta. Philadelphia. New York. Boston.
— Collin Rees (@collinrees) August 13, 2017