Sunday - August 20th, 2017

Charlottesville: One killed in violence over US far-right rally - BBC News


Charlottesville: One killed in violence over US far-right rally - BBC News

One person has died and 19 others were injured when a car rammed a crowd of people opposing a far-right rally in the US state of Virginia, police say.

Earlier, street brawls erupted between white nationalists planning to attend the march and counter-protesters.

The mayor of Charlottesville, where the now-cancelled rally was taking place, said he was "heartbroken" at the death.

President Donald Trump has condemned the violence, and local officials have declared a state of emergency.

The car involved in the ramming incident was later located a few streets away and the driver is in custody, the city's police chief said.

In addition to those injured there, the Charlottesville Police Department said 15 were injured in other violence related to the far-right march.

Late in the afternoon, a Virginia State Police helicopter, crashed in woodland south-west of the city, killing two people; however, there has been no indication that this was related to the violence.

The "Unite the Right" march was called to protest against plans to remove a statue of a general who had fought for the pro-slavery Confederacy during the US Civil War.

Video posted on social media showed a car ploughing at speed into several slow-moving vehicles, which were surrounded by a densely packed crowd.

A witness said one girl got "tore up" after the car "backed up and hit again".

Officials said the driver had been taken into custody.

Police earlier fired tear gas against demonstrators and said that arrests had been made after a declaration of unlawful assembly at Emancipation Park.

The far-right protesters, some waving Confederate flags, carrying shields and wearing helmets, are angry about the planned removal of a statue of General Robert E Lee from Charlottesville.

Gen Lee commanded the pro-slavery Confederate forces in the US Civil War of 1861-65.

The New York Times reports that some of them were chanting "You will not replace us," and "Jew will not replace us."

Anti-racism organisations such as Black Lives Matter also held marches.

President Donald Trump condemned "in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides".

"The hate and the division must stop right now," he told reporters, speaking in New Jersey, where he is on a working holiday. "We have to come together as Americans with love for our nation."

Democrats and Republicans alike have taken issue with his choice of words, noting that he failed to refer to the role of white nationalists.

Republican Senator Cory Gardner tweeted: "Mr. President - we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism."

"My brother didn't give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home," tweeted Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, also a Republican.

By Joel Gunter, BBC News, Charlottesville

There were very violent scenes at Emancipation Park and it took some time for the police to intervene.

Both sides were throwing bottles and rocks and using pepper spray.

The far-right protesters were a mix of different groups with shields and batons and the declaration of a state of emergency seemed to have had a significant impact on them, as they started to dissipate.

Shiquan Rah, a 21-year-old demonstrator who had joined the counter-protest, said about the far-right groups: "These people don't have a message, their message is hate and violence. This is a spiritual war we're in.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe urged calm tweeting: "The acts and rhetoric in #Charlottesville over past 24 hours are unacceptable [and] must stop. A right to speech is not a right to violence."

Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer had earlier called the rally a "parade of hatred, bigotry, racism and intolerance".

The rise of the alt-right

The hoax about desecration of US Civil War graves

On Friday, the white nationalists held lit torches - which some observers described as a reference to the Ku Klux Klan - and chanted "White lives matter" as they marched through the University of Virginia in the city.

Charlottesville is considered a liberal college town - and 86% of the county voted for Hillary Clinton in last year's presidential elections.

However, the town has become a focal point for white nationalists after the city council voted to remove the statue of Gen Lee.

Some observers also argue that Mr Trump's election to the White House re-energised the far right across the US.

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