Saturday 21 October 2017

One dead and 19 injured as car ploughs into crowd during white supremacists march on Virginia

  • One dead and 19 injured as car ploughs into crowds
  • Hundreds gather ahead of planned Unite the Right rally
  • Governor of Virginia has declared a state of emergency
  • Men dressed in military-style uniforms seen carrying rifles and shields
State of emergency declared after clash between members of white nationalists against a group of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
State of emergency declared after clash between members of white nationalists against a group of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
State of emergency declared after clash between members of white nationalists against a group of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A protester receives first-aid during a clash between members of white nationalists against a group of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A vehicle is seen reversing after plowing into the crowd gathered on a street in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., after police broke up a clash between white nationalists and counter-protesters, August 12, 2017, in this still image from a video obtained from social media. Courtesy of Brennan Gilmore/via REUTERS
Rescue workers assist people who were injured when a car drove through a group of counter protestors at the "Unite the Right" rally Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Virginia State Police cordon off an area around the site where a car ran into a group of protesters after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
White nationalist demonstrators use shields as they clash with counter demonstrators at the entrance to Lee Park in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Members of white nationalist protesters receive first-aid during a clash against a group of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A man is down during a clash between members of white nationalist protesters and a group of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A white supremacists carries the Confederate flag as he walks past counter demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A white supremacists stands with militia members after he scuffled with a counter demonstrator in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A white supremacists carries the Confederate flag as he arrives for a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A white supremacists stands behind militia members after he scuffled with a counter demonstrator in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Sarah Rankin

One person has died and 19 others are injured after a car rammed into crowds at a white nationalist rally in Virginia.

Hospital officials have confirmed that one person has died and 19 others are injured after a car rammed into a crowd of counter-protesters, according to the Associated Press.

It's understood that the driver of the vehicle is now in custody.

The incident occurred approximately two hours after violent clashes kicked off between white nationalists and counter-protesters.

The governor of Virginia has declared a state of emergency in response to a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.

Terry McAuliffe said on Twitter that the declaration had been made in order "to aid state response to violence" at the rally in the city, about 100 miles outside Washington, DC.

Virginia State Police cordon off an area around the site where a car ran into a group of protesters after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Virginia State Police cordon off an area around the site where a car ran into a group of protesters after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Clashes between white nationalists and counter-protesters mark the latest confrontation in Charlottesville since it voted earlier this year to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E Lee from a city centre park.

The city's mayor also declared a local emergency and police ordered people to disperse from the area around the statue after several violent clashes broke out.

Supporters of the rally were involved in fighting with counter-demonstrators, with water bottles hurled from both sides and chemical sprays being used.

Men dressed in military-style uniforms were also seen carrying rifles and shields in the area.

The clashes came after right-wing blogger Jason Kessler planned what he called a "pro-white" rally in protest over Charlottesville's decision to remove the statue.

There were also fights on Friday night, when hundreds of white nationalists marched through the University of Virginia campus carrying torches.

Rescue workers assist people who were injured when a car drove through a group of counter protestors at the
Rescue workers assist people who were injured when a car drove through a group of counter protestors at the "Unite the Right" rally Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

A university spokesman said one person had been arrested and several people were injured.

City officials declared a local emergency shortly after 11am (4pm).

The clashes mark the latest confrontation in Charlottesville since the city voted earlier this year to remove the statue of Lee from a park.

In May, a torch-wielding group that included prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer gathered around the statue for a night-time protest, and in July, about 50 members of a North Carolina-based KKK group travelled there for a rally, where they were met by hundreds of counter-protesters.

Mr Kessler said this week that the rally is partly about the removal of Confederate symbols, but also about free speech and "advocating for white people".

He said in an interview: "This is about an anti-white climate within the Western world and the need for white people to have advocacy like other groups do."

Among those expected to attend the rally are Confederate heritage groups, KKK members, militia groups and "alt-right" activists, who generally espouse a mix of racism, white nationalism and populism.

A white supremacists carries the Confederate flag as he arrives for a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A white supremacists carries the Confederate flag as he arrives for a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Both the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Centre, which track extremist groups, said the event has the potential to be the largest of its kind in at least a decade.

Officials have been preparing for the rally for months.

Virginia State Police will be assisting local authorities, and a spokesman said the Virginia National Guard "will closely monitor the situation and will be able to rapidly respond and provide additional assistance if needed".

Police instituted road closures around the city centre, and many businesses in the popular open-air shopping mall opted to close for the day.

Both local hospitals said they had taken precautions to prepare for an influx of patients and had extra staff on call.

Charlottesville mayor Michael Signer said he was disappointed that the white nationalists had come to his town and blamed President Donald Trump for inflaming racial prejudices with his campaign last year.

A white supremacists stands behind militia members after he scuffled with a counter demonstrator in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A white supremacists stands behind militia members after he scuffled with a counter demonstrator in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

He said: "I'm not going to make any bones about it. I place the blame for a lot of what you're seeing in America today right at the doorstep of the White House and the people around the president."

Charlottesville, nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, is a liberal-leaning city which is home to the flagship University of Virginia and Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson.

The statue's removal is part of a broader city effort to change the way Charlottesville's history is told in public spaces.

The city has also renamed Lee Park, where the statue stands, and Jackson Park, named for Confederate General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. They are now called Emancipation Park and Justice Park, respectively.

For now, the Lee statue remains.

A group called the Monument Fund has filed a lawsuit arguing that removing the statue would violate a state law governing war memorials.

A judge has agreed to a temporary injunction that blocks the city from removing the statue for six months.

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