Fighting has broken out at a ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, Virginia between right-wing protesters demonstrating against the removal of a Confederate-era statue from Emancipation Park, and counter demonstrators.
The Unite the Right rally aims to “unify the right-wing against a totalitarian Communist crackdown” and “affirm the right of Southerners and white people to organize for their interests just like any other group is able to do.”
We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2017
Our country encourages freedom of speech, but let's communicate w/o hate in our hearts. No good comes from violence. #Charlottesville
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) August 12, 2017
Police have declared a state of emergency in downtown Charlottesville, amid fears of escalating violence.
— Craig Stanley (@_CraigStanley) August 12, 2017
— Christopher Mathias (@letsgomathias) August 12, 2017
— Charlottesville City (@CvilleCityHall) August 12, 2017
Governor McAuliffe has declared a state of emergency to aid state response to violence at Alt-Right rally in Charlottesville
— Terry McAuliffe (@GovernorVA) August 12, 2017
Saturday’s demonstration was organized by Jason Kessler, a former Daily Caller writer and activist, to protest against the removal of the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park.
The park used to be named Lee Park, after the Confederate general, but Charlottesville City Council voted to change its name in June.
Authorities are on high alert after a protest at the University of Virginia on Friday night saw counter-protesters surrounded by so-called ‘alt-right’ demonstrators carrying torches.
— ACLU of Virginia (@ACLUVA) August 12, 2017
The national socialist movement and others heading east on Market street. pic.twitter.com/hk6eD2Tfr3
— Allison Wrabel (@craftypanda) August 12, 2017
— Alex Rubinstein (@RealAlexRubi) August 12, 2017
Riot police assembled just off of E. Jefferson St. pic.twitter.com/cxEgKIpFTd
— C-VILLE Weekly (@cvillenews_desk) August 12, 2017
Counterprotesters are throwing water balloons filled with pink paint at white nationalists – as seen on this police car pic.twitter.com/4GZ54Ho1yZ
— Ned Oliver (@nedoliver) August 12, 2017
— NBC29 (@NBC29) August 12, 2017
Efforts to move the protest to McIntire Park were quashed when a judge ruled Friday that it could go ahead at Emancipation Park.
Protest organizer Kessler is described as a white nationalist by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
— Jason Kessler (@TheMadDimension) August 12, 2017
White nationalist and ‘alt-right’ speakers expected at the Unite the Right event include Richard Spencer, Mike Enoch and Augustus Invictus. According to Kessler, “speakers [are] not allowed to enter into speaking area.”
Meanwhile, Virginia House Democrats have released a statement condemning the rally.
“As the former mayor of this beautiful, inclusive and progressive community, I am saddened that our city may draw thousands who would come here to sow division and hate,” House Democratic Leader David Toscano said.
“The alt-right agenda has been brought to Charlottesville by people who are neither from our community nor who represent its values. We will strive to ensure the day does not erupt into violence, and we will redouble our efforts to remain civically engaged so that darkness does not obscure our light.”