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Monday
Aug142017

'Everyone’s hearts are aching': Cities hold vigils in wake of Charlottesville violence

ABC News(CHARLOTESVILLE) -- Dozens of vigils and demonstrations were held across the country Sunday a day after a woman was killed at an anti-fascist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The vigils honored the life of Heather Heyer, who died when a man drove his car into a group of counter protesters on Saturday afternoon, with some calling for action against hate groups.

"Really devastated, really disappointed that terrorists came and took over," Leah Larsen, a Charlottesville resident told ABC affiliate WRIC on Saunday. "Everyone’s hearts are aching, just really upset that this is still going on even after we fought wars over this."

Heyer was part of the group that assembled to denounce the "Unite the Right" rally held by far-right groups on Saturday. A melee broke out between the two sides followed by the car-ramming that killed Heyer and injured 19 others.

Police arrested James Alex Fields, 20, and charged him with second-degree murder in the incident.

A vigil was also held in Charlottesville at the location where Heyer was killed, and in a number of other U.S. cities.

Most of the rallies were peaceful, though in Seattle protesters clashed with a previously planned pro-Donald Trump rally. Police dispersed the rally with pepper spray and blast balls after fireworks were thrown at officers, according to the Associated Press. ABC affiliate KOMO in Seattle reported three protesters were arrested.

Here's a look at a few of of Sunday's gatherings:

SEATTLE


 
NEW YORK


MIAMI

 

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Sunday
Aug132017

Charlottesville murder suspect's teacher: 'He thought Nazis were pretty cool guys'

Win McNamee/Getty Images(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.)-- The 20-year-old Ohio man police say accelerated his car into a crowd of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia in an incident that left one dead and 19 injured "thought the Nazis were pretty cool guys," according to his former history teacher.

James Alex Fields Jr. was charged with second-degree murder following Saturday’s incident. Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old victim, was marching alongside members of the Democratic Socialists of America and other activist groups at the time she was killed, according to witnesses.

Derek Weimer says he taught World History to Fields, as well as a course called America's Modern Wars, while Fields was a student at Randall K. Cooper High School in Union, Kentucky. He described Fields as being "fairly quiet," "smart," and also an open admirer of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.

"He would say things that had that bent to it," Weimer told ABC News of Fields' interest in Nazism. "He really thought the Nazis were pretty cool guys."

Weimer said that he and Fields engaged in many private discussions, as well as the ones that were held publicly in class, and that Weimer frequently attempted to "challenge his beliefs" about Nazism.

He said that Fields confessed to reading and enjoying Mein Kampf, Hitler's 1925 autobiography, a book that is considered a touchstone for white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups.

"He would usually make his points in a calm and respectful way," Weimer said, responding to a question about whether Fields had exhibited signs of the violence police say he displayed on Saturday.

Some of Fields' classmates at the school recalled a trip to Europe a group of students took after graduation in 2015, when they visited the Dachau concentration camp. Two of the students on the trip said when they arrived at the concentration camp, Fields said, "This is is where the magic happened."

Weimer noted that Randall K. Cooper High School is not particularly diverse, and said that as a result, he didn't have many opportunities to see Fields interact with many non-whites or Jewish people.

"We had between 1200 and 1300 students at that time," Weimer said. "Maybe four percent were black. There were only a handful of Jews. The school was just about six percent Latin-American."

Fields attended basic training from August 2015 until December 2015, when he was released for failure to meet training standards, according to a statement from the Army.

"As a result he was never awarded a military occupational skill nor was he assigned to a unit outside of basic training," Army spokeswoman Lt. Col. Jennifer Johnson said.

He had an 'African-American friend'

Samantha Bloom, Fields' mother, told the Associated Press that her son James Alex Fields Jr. "had an African-American friend," in response to a question about whether or not he was a white supremacist.

"I just knew he was going to a rally. I mean, I try to stay out of his political views. You know, we don't, you know, I don't really get too involved, I moved him out to his own apartment, so we, I'm watching his cat," Bloom told the AP.

"I thought it had something to do with Trump. Trump's not a white supremacist," Bloom added about her son's appearance at the white nationalist gathering.

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Sunday
Aug132017

Organizer who survived Charlottesville violence 'grateful for solidarity' across the country

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.)-- An organizer for the Richmond, Virginia chapter of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), a socialist organization that has seen a major surge in membership following the election of President Donald Trump, remembers "a car careening through a crowd" followed by screaming on Saturday afternoon as he and other activists were marching together against white nationalism.

Tommy, who requested that we not use his last name, told ABC News that two members of DSA were injured during the incident when 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. of Ohio drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, according to authorities.

The incident took place following a white nationalist rally earlier in the day in the college city.

Of the 19 patients from the car incident Saturday that were transported to UVA Medical Center, 10 are in good condition and nine have been discharged, Angela Taylor with UVA Health Systems said on Sunday afternoon. She added that the hospital has treated additional patients related to Saturday’s events, but the facility does not have an exact number of patients.

Fields was charged with second-degree murder following the incident.

Heather Heyer, 32, was killed while marching in the same group as Tommy and other DSA members. DSA could not confirm whether or not she was in fact a member of their organization, or belonged to another group that was marching with DSA at the time.

A GoFundMe page for Heyer's memorial that was backed by DSA has raised over $80,000 in just 11 hours.

Tommy said that he is "still processing" Saturday’s events, but said that when he saw rallies and marches of solidarity begin to spring up across the country, it brightened his spirits.

"My sister was almost killed by that driver," Tommy said. "Speaking for our little chapter in DSA, when we see [marches and rallies] springing up across the country, it just means so much that so many people are willing to stand with us--and also fight with us."

 

On Saturday night, emotional gatherings were held from Oakland to New Orleans and New York, where attendees pledged solidarity with those who were attacked, and spoke out against the white supremacist rally that took place in Charlottesville.

More events are planned on Sunday in cities like Washington DC, Charlotte, Chicago, and Denver, among others.

Some of the groups are planned by DSA, like a solidarity rally taking place in Manhattan's Union Square Sunday afternoon, while others are hosted by the group that created the Women's March, and others are being planned by a confluence of activist organizations that are acting in unity.

A memorial has also been set up at the site of where the attack took place in Charlottesville.
Beyond the incident involving Fields, clashes took place from Friday night until Saturday afternoon between white nationalists, counter-protesters, and police in the college town. Images of the clashes, and of white men holding Nazi flags, and giving the Nazi salute, were replayed on social media and on cable news, drawing shock from many.

Tommy said that as a Latino man living in the South, the images of swastikas did not surprise or shock him.

"I hate to break it to people who might not know it, but this kind of hate has always been in America," Tommy said.

He said that beyond the rallies and vigils, the best way to offer support to those who were affected by Saturday's violence was to organize against "the insidious threat of white supremacy."

"Yesterday was the both the happiest and most terrifying day of my life," Tommy said, referring to the comradeship he felt prior to the attack taking place. "If people want to know how to help the people in the south who are dealing with in a very visceral way, they should work in their own communities--organize locally."

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Sunday
Aug132017

Charlottesville victim always defended what she believed in, mother says

Facebook(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) -- The mother of the 32-year-old woman who died after a car rammed into a crowd that was marching in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday said her daughter was always defended her beliefs.

"Heather was a very passionate person," Susan Bro, the mother of victim Heather Heyer, told ABC News. "She had very strong beliefs, and even as a small child, she was fierce about defending her beliefs."

"She didn’t do it in a way so much of arguing, as a way so much of saying, 'Tell me why.' 'Tell me why I can't do this' or 'Tell me why you believe that.'" Bro said of Heyer, who worked as a paralegal.

"At times as a small child, that would be maddening, but I encouraged that in her, to be a strong independent person and to stand up for what she believed in," said the mother. "She always believed in treating people fairly."

Heyer's stepfather, Kim Bro, echoed the young woman's mother.

"She was believing in what she was doing, he said.

Bro said she is numb over the loss of her daughter. She added that she is also conscious that she is not the only person who lost a child in Saturday's violence.

James Alex Fields Jr., a 20-year-old Ohio man, has been arrested in connection with the incident Saturday that, in addition to killing Heyer, sent 19 people to the hospital.

"I've not only lost a daughter; his mother has lost her son," Bro said of the mother of the suspect. "She will never have her son back in the way that he was."

"Heather's life was not about hate," her mother added, "and this young man who ran my daughter down mistakenly believed that hate would change the world, and it doesn't."

"Hate harms people, and I don't want more hate brought by my daughter's death," she said. "I want peace that she would want. I want change. I want equality. I want fairness, and I want it done peacefully."

Bro said she had dinner with her daughter about a week ago.

"We had talked about the rally, and I never asked her if she was coming or not," she said. "I figured she probably would, but I didn’t ask because I believe adult children have a right to privacy, and she is an adult."

She learned of her daughter's getting hurt from Heyer's friend.

"I just got word from her best friend, who got word from one of the young women that had been with her that the hospital was trying to find her next of kin," Bro said.

Now, she said, she isn't sleeping because "every time I close my eyes, I have tears running down my face."

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Sunday
Aug132017

Police face criticism following eruptions of violence in Charlottesville

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) -- Protesters from both sides of Saturday’s conflict in Charlottesville, Virginia, have criticized the efforts of police to reign in the violence that took place prior to and during a large gathering of white nationalists in the college town.

The violence, which started on Friday night and then intensified on Saturday, killed Heather Heyer, 32, an activist who was marching against the white nationalists who descended upon Charlottesville this weekend.

James Alex Fields Jr., 21, drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, according to authorities, killing Heyer, injuring others and spawning a wave of protest rallies in response.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, which tweeted that counterprotesters were not happy with the police, also reported police saying that they would "not intervene until given command to do so."


Richard Spencer, the leader of the white supremacist organization National Policy Institute and an organizer for the cause of white nationalists who attended Saturday's rally, is blaming the police for Saturday’s violence, tweeting that the "Charlottesville and Virginia police have blood on their hands."

"They policed the peaceful, and they exacerbated a mêlée," Spencer wrote. "Total outrage."

Jason Kessler, a white nationalist organizer, attempted to give a press conference Sunday afternoon to address issues related to the rally, but was shouted down by a gathering of protesters and opted to flee the scene in front of Charlottesville Town Hall.

Police did not appear to be in the immediate vicinity of his press conference, and seemed to arrive to control the crowd only after Kessler had already fled the scene.

The protesters at the scene were chanting "get out of our city" and "shame on you."

A man was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault and battery Sunday for spitting on Kessler, Virginia State Police said. Robert K. Litzenberger, 47, of Charlottesville, Va., was arrested at 2:56 p.m.

Spencer also canceled an opportunity to speak with the press Sunday in Virginia, saying he will speak with the media on Monday from Washington, D.C.

Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer, who has spoken out about the white nationalist groups that have planned gatherings in his city throughout 2017, called the deployment of police the largest such one in the state of Virginia "since 9/11."

"There was a ton of preparation that went into one goal for government, which was setting the conditions so that people could express themselves and assemble peaceably, and what happened was you had a lot of people who were not willing to accept even that basic condition of what we do in our democracy," Signer said.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia also defended the job the police did, particularly as it related to the death of Heyer.

“You can’t stop some crazy guy who came here from Ohio and used his car as a weapon,” McAuliffe told the press, calling Fields a "terrorist."

But video replayed over the weekend on cable news and social media appears to show long brawls between protesters and counterprotesters that went uninterrupted by police.

Police in Charlottesville have not publicly commented on criticisms of their work, and have focused primarily on providing information about arrests that took place in the city this weekend.

A call by ABC News to the Charlottesville Police Department for comment was not immediately returned.

Two officers killed in accident

Two Virginia State Police officers who were assisting in the response to the violence surrounding the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville died Saturday afternoon after their helicopter crashed 7 miles southwest of the city.

The officers were traveling in a Virginia State Police helicopter "assisting public safety resources with the ongoing situation in Charlottesville," according to a spokesperson for the state police, where a confrontation between white nationalists and counterprotesters turned violent in city streets.

The officers -- Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates -- died at the scene, according to state police.

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Sunday
Aug132017

What we know about the violent clashes and car-ramming in Charlottesville 

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) -- The ramming of a car Saturday afternoon into a crowd protesting a white nationalist rally in Virginia, leaving one dead and several injured at the scene, has left many lawmakers and ordinary Americans shocked and upset.

And there were two other fatalities related to the rally: A Virginia State Police helicopter crashed into woods nearby, killing two officers. Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke Bates died at the scene, according to authorities.

Heading into Sunday, law enforcement officials hope to gain a better idea of the suspect's motives and his background, while relatives of the injured pray for their loved ones.

Below, a primer on the deadly incident and the details we know so far: 

WHAT HAPPENED

The chaos kicked off when a group of white nationalists -- including neo-Nazis, skinheads and Ku Klux Klan members -- descended upon Charlottesville for the Unite the Right rally. The gathering was spurred by the city's plans to remove a Confederate statue from a local park. The white nationalists were met with hundreds of counterprotesters, which led to street brawls and violent clashes. That, in turn, prompted Gov. Terry McAuliffe to declare a state of emergency.

As the counterprotesters were marching along a downtown street, a silver Dodge Challenger suddenly came barreling through the crowd. The impact tossed people into the air and left a 32-year-old woman dead. She has not yet been officially identified. 

WHO IS THE SUSPECT AND WHAT ARE THE CHARGES

Law enforcement officials said the driver is James Alex Fields Jr., a 20-year-old who recently moved to Ohio from Kentucky.

Fields, 20, has been charged with second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding, and one count related to leaving the scene. A bond hearing is scheduled for Monday. 

WHO ELSE WAS ARRESTED

Virginia State Police announced on Saturday night that three additional arrests were made related to the rally.

The individuals were Troy Dunigan, 21, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, arrested and charged with disorderly conduct; Jacob L. Smith, 21, of Louisa, Virginia, arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault and battery; and James M. O’Brien, 44, of Gainesville, Florida, arrested and charged with carrying a concealed handgun.

THE INJURED

The University of Virginia Health System tweeted Saturday night that it had received 20 people following the car-slamming, including the woman who died. As of 7:36 p.m. -- the hospital's most recent update -- five patients were in critical condition, four were in serious condition, six in fair condition and four in good condition.

LAWMAKERS REACT

In remarks from his golf club in New Jersey, President Donald Trump said, "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. On many sides."

The president's implication that "many sides" were responsible for the violence, didn't sit well with both lawmakers and private citizens.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., responded on Twitter.

Others were less blatantly critical of the president, but expressed their disgust at the rally and its attendees.

Sen. Ted Cruz slammed the violence associated with the rally and its aftermath in a strongly worded Facebook post.

"The Nazis, the KKK and white supremacists are repulsive and evil, and all of us have a moral obligation to speak out against the lies, bigotry, anti-Semitism and hatred that they propagate," Cruz wrote in the statement.

 Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., the lone African-American Republican in the senate, also called the attack "domestic terror" and encouraged it to be "condemned."

 Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent and self-described democratic socialist, called the rally "reprehensible."

SUNDAY'S VIGILS AND SOLIDARITY RALLIES

A slew of gatherings across the country are slated for Sunday to stand in solidarity with Charlottesville.

In Washington, D.C., a candlelight vigil at the White House is scheduled for 8:30 p.m., the "Vigil for Justice" is slated for 5 p.m. at the World War II Memorial at the National Mall, and the "River of Light in Solidarity with #Charlottesville" vigil is slated for 7 p.m. at Lafayette Park.

Elsewhere, there are rallies scheduled in Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Denver, New York City and Chicago.

A list of the many rallies can be found here.

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Sunday
Aug132017

Newspapers cover Charlottesville car-ramming with dramatic photos, headlines

iStock/Thinkstock(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) -- "Terror in Virginia." "Death & Hate." "A Day of Death."

Those are just some of the headlines splashed across the covers of newspapers across the U.S., covering the ramming of a car Saturday into a crowd protesting a white nationalist rally in Virginia that left one dead and several injured.

Below, a look at newspapers in the state where the tragedy occurred, and elsewhere.

THE DAILY PROGRESS, CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA


RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, RICHMOND, VIRGINIA


THE ROANOKE TIMES, ROANOKE, VIRGINIA


NEW YORK POST, NEW YORK, NEW YORK


DAILY NEWS, NEW YORK, NEW YORK


CHICAGO TRIBUNE, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS


NEWSDAY, LONG ISLAND, NEW YORK


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Saturday
Aug122017

Justice Department opens investigation into deadly Charlottesville car-ramming

Twitter/@brennanmgilmore(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) --  An Ohio man was charged with murder after a car plowed into a crowd of demonstrators following a foiled white nationalist rally Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing a 32-year-old woman and leaving 19 others injured, police and officials said.

James Alex Fields Jr. of Maumee Ohio faces one count of second degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and one count of hit-and-run after the incident, which sent pedestrians flying. In the wake of the incident, the Department of Justice opened an investigation into the incident, calling

"It was absolutely the most horrible thing I've ever witnessed," said Brittany Caine-Conley, the lead organizer with Congregate Charlottesville. "We ran to the scene and one of my friends actually tried to hold the wounds together for the woman who has passed away."

In a statement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that "the violence and deaths in Charlottesville strike at the heart of American law and justice. When such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated."

White nationalist and other attendees clashed with those who arrived to oppose the demonstration, which began with a torch-wielding group marching through the city Friday evening and was intended to culminate in an event entitled "Unite the Right," set to begin at noon on Saturday.

However, the event -- which was roundly criticized on both sides of the aisle and included calls for the actions to be deemed terrorism -- was shut down by authorities early Saturday afternoon. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency in the city and police ordered the crowds to disperse.

President Trump denounced the "egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides," but drew scrutiny for not condemning the white nationalists directly.

Dramatic video taken after the demonstration was shut down shows crowds walking along a downtown Charlottesville street as several cars move slowly along the same avenue. Abruptly, a gray Dodge rams into the back of another vehicle, slamming one or more cars ahead of it amid the crowd of protesters. The driver then rapidly reverses away from the scene.

The University of Virginia Health System confirmed that 20 patients were brought to UVA Medical Center and that 19 were being "assessed and treated" in addition to the woman who died. Five of the 19 individuals were listed as being in critical condition as of 7 p.m. Saturday.

Thomas identified the victim only as a 32-year-old woman, and saying her name would not be released until her next of kin were notified.

President Donald Trump tweeted his condolences to the family of the woman Saturday evening, adding his "best regards to all of those injured."

 


Charlottesville has become a flashpoint for white nationalists following a City Council vote in February to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a park formerly called Lee Park.

The park was renamed Emancipation Park in June.

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Saturday
Aug122017

White nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia sparks violent clashes, turns deadly

Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) -- The usually quiet university city of Charlottesville, Virginia, erupted into chaos Saturday when far-right extremists gathering for a Unite the Right rally clashed with counterprotesters, leaving more than a dozen injured and several under arrest.

The melee turned deadly in the afternoon when a car plowed into a group of counterprotesters, killing a 32-year-old woman and leaving 19 others injured, five critically. The driver was charged with murder in an incident that a bystander described as "the most horrible thing I've ever witnessed."

And two state troopers who were part of the response to the events in Charlottesville died when their helicopter crashed several miles outside the city.

The gathering of white nationalists was roundly condemned, and a number of politicians called for the events to be called a terror attack. But President Trump drew scrutiny for issuing what some viewed as an equivocating statement that there was "hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides."

The state of Virginia declared the gathering unlawful, and ordered both rallygoers and counterprotesters to "disperse immediately," but tensions boiled over in the city's streets well into the afternoon on Saturday.

The Virginia State Police posted videos on Facebook of officers breaking up the Unite the Right gathering and counterprotest.

One video shows an officer in announcing to milling crowds: "This gathering has been declared as to be an unlawful assembly; in the name of the Commonwealth, you are commanded to immediately disperse. If you do not disperse immediately, you will be arrested.”

Charlottesville police reported Saturday evening that 14 people had been injured in the clashes and that more than a dozen others were injured in the vehicle-ramming incident that left a woman dead in the city's downtown. Police charged James Alex Fields, 20, of Ohio on Saturday night with second-degree murder related to the death.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe referenced two additional fatalities during a Saturday press conference, but did not elaborate on the nature of the deaths. President Donald Trump tweeted condolences to the families and fellow officers of the Virginia State Police shortly after.

On Saturday evening, the state police announced three additional arrests in relation to the planned rally, issuing charges of disorderly conduct, misdemeanor assault and battery, and carrying a concealed handgun to three individuals, respectively.

The individuals were Troy Dunigan, 21, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, arrested and charged with disorderly conduct; Jacob L. Smith, 21, of Louisa, Virginia, arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault and battery; and James M. O’Brien, 44, of Gainesville, Florida, arrested and charged with carrying a concealed handgun.

The attempted rally and clashes came after a Friday-night march by torch-bearing white nationalists on and near the University of Virginia campus, which resulted in brawls with protesters countering the event.

The Unite the Right event Saturday was supposed to begin at noon, but people both in support of and opposed to the rally began gathering earlier. By 11 a.m. two people had been treated for serious but nonlife-threatening injuries after an altercation at the city's Emancipation Park, according to city officials.

McAuliffe placed the National Guard on standby in preparation for the rally, an action he took even before the clashes Friday night.

On Saturday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions released a statement condemning the violence.

"I have been in contact with our Department of Justice agents assisting at the scene and state officials," Sessions said. "We will continue to support our state and local officers on the ground in any way possible. We stand united behind the president in condemning the violence in Charlottesville and any message of hate and intolerance. This kind of violence is totally contrary to American values and can never be tolerated. I want to thank all law enforcement personnel in the area for their commitment to protecting this community and the rule of law."

Charlottesville has become a flash point for white nationalists and protesters seeking to counter them since a City Council vote in February to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a park formerly called Lee Park but renamed in June as Emancipation Park.

A group opposed to the council's decision sued. In May, a judge issued a six-month injunction against the city's removing the statue while litigation proceeds.

On Friday night, hundreds of white nationalists carrying torches and chanting "white lives matter," "you will not replace us" and the Nazi-associated phrase "blood and soil" marched near a statue of Thomas Jefferson on the grounds of the University of Virginia, and were met by counterprotesters.

Police arrived on campus, declared it an unlawful assembly and ordered the crowds to disperse. University police arrested one person who was charged with assault and disorderly conduct, a university statement Saturday said. "Several other members of the university community sustained minor injuries during the confrontation."

McAuliffe was direct Saturday night in his condemnation of those who arrived to attend the rally Saturday, telling the group to "go home."

"You are not wanted in this great commonwealth. Shame on you," he said. "You pretend that you're patriots, but you are anything but a patriot."

University President Teresa A. Sullivan "strongly condemned the demonstration," the statement said, adding that the "intimidating and abhorrent behavior displayed by the alt-right protesters was wrong."

Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer called the event "a cowardly parade of hatred, bigotry, racism and intolerance," adding that he was "beyond disgusted by this unsanctioned and despicable display of visual intimidation on a college campus."

A mass prayer service was held at St. Paul’s Memorial Church on University Avenue that was organized in response to the rally, according to The Daily Progress, a local paper.

Cornel West, a prominent leftist philosopher and political activist, spoke at the prayer service, calling the Unite the Right rally the “biggest gathering of a hate-driven right wing in the history of this country in the last 30 to 35 years,” the Daily Progress reported.

A similar rally in which white supremacists carried Tiki torches to protest the removal of that and other statues of Confederate leaders throughout the South took place in May.

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Saturday
Aug122017

Two Virginia state troopers assisting Charlottesville protest response die in helicopter accident

iStock/Thinkstock(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) -- Two Virginia State Police officers who were assisting in the response to the violence surrounding a planned white nationalist rally in Charlottesville died Saturday afternoon after their helicopter crashed seven miles southwest of the city.

The officers were traveling in a Virginia State Police helicopter "assisting public safety resources with the ongoing situation in Charlottesville," according to a spokesperson for the state police, where a confrontation between white nationalists and counter-protesters turned violent in city streets.

Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates died at the scene, said the state police.

The Federal Aviation Administration, National Transportation Safety Board and Virginia State Police are all investigating the crash, which took place in a wooded area. There were no injuries on the ground from the accident.

“Our state police and law enforcement family at-large are mourning this tragic outcome to an already challenging day,” said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent in a statement. “Lieutenant Cullen was a highly-respected professional aviator and Trooper-Pilot Bates was a welcome addition to the Aviation Unit, after a distinguished assignment as a special agent with our Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.


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