Fears of violence breaking out at a large white nationalist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, today were realized before the march even officially started, as counter-protesters and rally-goers mixed it up in a series of violent clashes.
In what has been described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as the largest hate-gathering of its kind in decades, thousands of white nationalists, alt-righters, and white supremacists have gathered in the Virginia college town. Charlottesville has become something of a ground-zero for white nationalism due to the city’s decision to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee. Besides protesting the removal of the statute, the rallygoers have claimed they are standing up for free speech and the rights of white people.
As marchers began gathering near Emancipation Park, many could be seen brandishing white supremacist and Nazi regalia. Others came armed with guns, shields and clubs:
— Andy Campbell (@AndyBCampbell) August 12, 2017
Brawls keep breaking out. Shields and clubs. pic.twitter.com/bJvtY9BZg2
— Joe Heim (@JoeHeim) August 12, 2017
— Christopher Mathias (@letsgomathias) August 12, 2017
— Craig Stanley (@_CraigStanley) August 12, 2017
Hundreds of counter-protesters also made their way to the rally, leading to the inevitable clashes that city leaders feared would occur. Even though the rally wasn’t scheduled to start until noon, police had to intervene when fights broke out in the streets between white nationalists and antifa and anti-racist gatherers.
According to CNN, multiple people have been injured in fights and there are concerns things will get far worse this afternoon. Police eventually issued a local emergency order at the scene of the demonstration. Mediaite’s Caleb Ecarma, who was on the scene, reported that police told everyone to leave or they will be arrested, as “the event has been declared an unlawful assembly.”
Following Ecarma’s dispatch, police in riot gear lined up and told the crowd it needed to clear the park immediately, essentially bringing the rally to a close before it officially began. Ecarma noted that he saw a number of people covered with blood on the streets.
The rally occurs a day after hundreds of white supremacists took part in a torch-lit march on the University of Virginia, chanting “white lives matter” and “blood and soil.” Violence also broke out at that march.
UPDATE 12:45 PM ET: The governor of Virginia has since called a state of emergency over the violence in the city and the National Guard has been called into action.
Watch the clip above, via CNN.
[image via screengrab]
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