At least three dead, dozens injured as U.S. white nationalists ignite Virginia clashes

At least three people were killed on Saturday and 35 injured after protests turned violent in Charlottesville, Virginia, as hundreds of white nationalists protesting plans to remove the statue of a Confederate general clashed with counter-demonstrators and a car plowed into a crowd, officials said.

The state’s governor blamed neo-Nazis for sparking the unrest in the college town of Charlottesville, where rival groups fought pitched battles using rocks and pepper spray after far-right protesters converged to demonstrate against a plan to remove a statue to a Confederate war hero.

A 32-year-old female was among those killed, said Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas, and injuries ranged from life-threatening to minor. The male driver of the vehicle that plowed into a crowd is in custody, Thomas said, and police were treating the incident as a criminal homicide investigation.

Video on social media and Reuters photographs showed the car hit a large group of counter-protesters, sending some flying into the air.

Federal authorities opened a civil rights investigation into the death.

Two Virginia policeman died in a helicopter crash nearby after assisting efforts to quell the clashes.

at-least-three-dead-dozens-injured-as-us-white-nationalists-ignite-virginia-clashes

A man hits the pavement during a clash between members of white nationalist protesters against a group of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. Photo by Reuters/Joshua Roberts 

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, declared an emergency and halted a white nationalist rally, while President Donald Trump condemned the violence.

“I have a message to all the white supremacists and the Nazis who came into Charlottesville today. Our message is plain and simple: go home,” McAuliffe told a news conference.

“You are not wanted in this great commonwealth. Shame on you.”

As midnight approached, the streets of Charlottesville had gone quiet.

The clashes highlight how the white supremacist movement has resurfaced under the “alt-right” banner after years in the shadows of mainstream American politics.

at-least-three-dead-dozens-injured-as-us-white-nationalists-ignite-virginia-clashes-1

Rescue workers transport a victim who was injured when a car drove through a group of counter protesters at the “Unite the Right” rally Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. Photo by Reuters/Justin Ide

Trump said “many sides” were involved, drawing fire from across the political spectrum for not specifically denouncing the far right. The violence presented Trump with perhaps the first domestic crisis of his young administration.

“We’re closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia,” Trump told reporters at his New Jersey golf course.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.”

Trump made no reply to a reporter’s shouted question whether he had spoken out strongly enough against white nationalists.

Police held a man from Ohio on charges relating to the car incident, including second-degree murder, said Martin Kumer, Albemarle Charlottesville’s regional jail superintendent.

The suspect was James Alex Fields, Jr., a 20-year-old white man from Ohio, Kumer said. It was not clear why he was in Charlottesville, home to the University of Virginia’s flagship campus.

After hours of clashes, a silver sedan driving at high speed plowed into the crowd before reversing along the same street. The incident took place about two blocks from the park displaying the statue of Robert E. Lee, who headed the Confederate army in the American Civil War.

Five people suffered critical injuries and four had serious injuries from the car strike, officials said.

A civil rights investigation has been opened into the crash death, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia and the FBI’s Richmond field office said late on Saturday.

“The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence,” they said in a joint statement.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions also condemned the violence in Charlottesville, vowing “the full support of the Department of Justice” for the U.S. Attorney’s office in a statement.

Three more men were arrested, Virginia State Police said late on Saturday night. Two 21-year-olds from Tennessee and Virginia were charged, one with disorderly conduct and the other with assault and battery, while a 44-year-old Florida man was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon.

at-least-three-dead-dozens-injured-as-us-white-nationalists-ignite-virginia-clashes-2

Local residents of Charlottesville sit together, pay their respects and cry at a vigil where 20 candles were burned for the 19 people injured and one killed when a car plowed into a crowd of counter protesters at the “Unite the Right” rally organized by white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. Photo by Reuters/Jim Bourg

‘Domestic terrorism?’

Prominent Democrats, civil rights activists and some Republicans said it was inexcusable of the president not to denounce white supremacy.

“Mr. President – we must call evil by its name,” Republican U.S. Senator Cory Gardner wrote on social network Twitter.

“These were white supremacists and this was domestic,” said Gardner, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the group charged with helping to get Republicans elected to the Senate.

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, said in a tweet directed at the president: “Repeat after me, @realDonaldTrump: white supremacy is an affront to American values.”

Fighting broke out on Saturday in the city’s downtown, when hundreds of people, some wearing white nationalist symbols and carrying Confederate battle flags, were confronted by a nearly equal number of counter-protesters.

The Charlottesville City Council voted unanimously to allow the police chief to declare a curfew. No action on the move has been taken as midnight approached, Mayor Mike Signer said on his Facebook page.

The confrontation was a stark reminder of the growing political polarization since Trump’s election last year.

“You will not erase us,” chanted a crowd of white nationalists, while counter-protesters carried placards that read: “Nazi go home” and “Smash white supremacy.”

Scott Stroney, 50, a catering sales director at the University of Virginia who arrived at the scene of the car incident just after the crash, said he was horrified.

“I started to cry. I couldn’t talk for a while,” he said. “It was just hard to watch, hard to see. It’s heartbreaking.”

at-least-three-dead-dozens-injured-as-us-white-nationalists-ignite-virginia-clashes-3

White supremacists rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. Photo by Reuters/Joshua Roberts

The violence began on Friday night, when hundreds of white marchers with blazing torches appeared at the campus in a display that critics called reminiscent of a Ku Klux Klan rally.

David Duke, a former leader of the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan, was in Charlottesville for the rally, according to his Twitter account.

The rally was part of a long debate in the U.S. South over the Confederate battle flag and other symbols of the rebel side in the Civil War, which was fought over the issue of slavery.

at-least-three-dead-dozens-injured-as-us-white-nationalists-ignite-virginia-clashes-4

White supremacists clash with counter protesters at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. Photo by Reuters/Joshua Roberts

The violence is the latest clash between far-rightists, some of whom have claimed allegiance to Trump, and the president’s opponents since his January inauguration, when black-clad anti-Trump protesters in Washington smashed windows, torched cars and clashed with police, leading to more than 200 arrests.

About two dozen people were arrested in Charlottesville in July when the Ku Klux Klan rallied against the plan to remove the Lee statue. Torch-wielding white nationalists also demonstrated against the decision in May.



Link http://news.c10mt.com/search/label/vietnambreakingnews and http://news.c10mt.com


Links Topics : http://news.c10mt.com/2017/08/at-least-three-dead-dozens-injured-as.html