A speeding Dodge Challenger accelerated and slammed into two other cars that hit dozens of counter-protesters at the “Unite The Right” rally in Charlottesville on Saturday. The shocking incident (see graphic video below) happened after the governor of Virginia declared a state of emergency.
At least one person has been confirmed dead and 19 others have been reported to be injured, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Police said James Alex Fields Jr., 20, of Ohio, was the person arrested and is charged with one count of second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding, and one count of hit and run, according to NBC News.
Photos and video have surfaced on social media that showed several distraught people receiving medical treatment from others while lying lifeless on the sidewalk.
Police estimated 2,000 to 6,000 people would attend the gathering of white nationalists including neo-Nazis, alt-right activists, and pro-Confederacy heritage groups. In addition to this, thousands of counter-protesters were also anticipated.
The rally was a violent scene with protesters wielding shields, wooden stick, and flags in massive scuffles that left people bloodied. The rally was planned for noon, but police issued an order to disperse before it started. There have also been several reports of urine being tossed at reporters and the air is said to be filled with pepper, spray, mace and tear gas.
Police in riot gear dispersed crowds following bottle-throwing clashes between alt-right demonstrators, counter-protesters, white nationalists, neo-Nazis and supporters of Black Lives Matter.
A counter protester had allegedly thrown a rock at the car, causing the driver to swivel around and ram into people and cars in its way, before driving off, according to the Daily Mail.
Local police reported there were multiple injuries and three vehicles were involved in the crash.
In the aftermath of the crash, people are heard screaming and crying as blood was splattered on a car’s windshield and victims were desperately calling out for medical help.
In addition to the several people hurt in the accident, at least eight people were being treated already for their injuries during other destructive clashes at Emancipation Park.
The governor’s state of emergency gave officials more authority to bring in additional resources to cease the disturbance. Charlottesville’s declaration of the rally as an “unlawful assembly” opened the way for police to clear Emancipation Park.
Some 500 protesters among the white nationalist and alt-right groups left the park shortly after state police, using megaphones, declared the gathering an “unlawful assembly.” This was 20 minutes before the rally was scheduled to begin.
At midnight last night, hundreds of white nationalist descended on Charlottesville, Virginia in what is said to be their largest demonstration in decades. Last night, they held an impromptu rally at the University of Virginia, which led to violent clashes with counter-protesters.
Separate footage showed protesters in a loose uniform of khaki trousers and white shirts carrying flags and chanting, “blood and soil” as they passed through the streets of Charlottesville.
A local emergency and “unlawful assembly” has also been declared. The Virginia State Police tweeted that officers had made arrests following the unlawful assembly declaration.
During the controversial rally, the National Guard was also deployed.
Many on social media were curious about the heavily-armed men in camouflage clothing and tactical gear that have been filmed marching through the streets of Charlottesville.
Many wondered if the men were present to back “Unite The Right” as the armed men appeared to be wearing a bandolier of shotgun shells, a second had spare handgun magazines and another had a Confederate flag patch on his vest.
The men that many called, “unidentified militia” were seen carrying military-style assault rifles with telescope sights and spare magazines, in addition to protective helmets, radios, and knives.
Virginia’s Democratic governor, Terry McAuliffe, has placed the National Guard on standby for the “unite the right” rally, according to the Independent.
About an hour ago, Police asked people to clear the park in Charlottesville where a protest left several people injured and one arrested.
The rally at Emancipation Park was supported by a federal court injunction was aimed at protesting the city’s decision to remove the statue of the Confederate general, General Robert E. Lee.
The events follow U.S. District Judge Glen Conrad issued a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit that right-wing blogger and rally organizer, Jason Kessler, filed against the city of Charlottesville. Kessler wants to protest Charlottesville’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park, according to Fox News.
Kessler sued the city over free speech violations after the officials ordered the rally moved from Emancipation Park to a larger venue because of safety concerns.
In a statement, the city said it would honor the judge’s decision. Kessler is being represented in his case by the Rutherford Institute and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia.
First lady Melania Trump issued a statement on Twitter condemning the ongoing violence in Charlottesville. “Our country encourages freedom of speech, but let’s communicate w/o hate in our hearts. No good comes from violence. #Charlottesville.”
President Trump recently issued a statement, “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!”
[Featured Image by Win McNamee/AP Images]