Aug. 12 (UPI) — A declared state of emergency abruptly ended a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., before it could officially start, following violence between those demonstrators and counterprotesters.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared the state of emergency Saturday morning “to aid state response to violence at Alt-Right rally in Charlottesville” as authorities, including police and members of the National Guard, blocked off sections of the city and cleared Emancipation Park, the intended site of the rally, called Unite the Right, the Daily Progress reported.
Police initially declared an unlawful assembly at Emancipation Park at 11:35 a.m., just before the scheduled noon start time for the rally, attended by “alt-right” leader Richard Spencer, former Ku Klux Klan Imperial Wizard David Duke. City officials expected thousands of demonstrators to attend.
Later in the day, a number of people were injured in a three-vehicle crash on a street corner in Charlottesville, the city of confirmed on Facebook less than three hours after police first declared the unlawful assembly. The Washington Post spoke with a witness who said the crash involved one car driving through a crowd of people.
The violence Saturday morning came hours after a similar demonstration on Friday night that ended in clashes between torch-bearing white nationalists and counterprotesters. Police also shut down that demonstration.
“We ALL must be united and condemn all that hate stands for,” he wrote on Twitter. “There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!”
The Post reported police used megaphones to order protesters out of Emancipation Park as neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members and other white nationalists clashed with a spectrum of counterprotesters that included anti-fascists, clergy and Black Lives Matter activists.
Members of a self-described militia, dressed in camouflage and armed with long guns, were also present and claimed they intended to keep the peace between opposing protesters.
After the park was cleared, protesters carrying Confederate flags, Nazi symbols and other anti-semitic signs marched to McIntire Park, a larger location where city officials had previously tried to move the rally.
The University of Virginia, where Friday’s torch-lit rally took place, canceled all scheduled events and programming at the university on Saturday.
“Due to the ongoing public safety concerns in downtown Charlottesville and as a result of both the City of Charlottesville and the County of Albemarle declaring a local state of emergency, the University of Virginia is cancelling all scheduled events and programming today effective at noon,” the university said.