Authorities probe outbreak of violence at nationalist rally

Reuters
US authorities are investigating the outbreak of violence in Virginia following a white nationalist rally that killed one person and injured more than 30.
Reuters
AFP

People receive first aid after a car drove into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday. One woman was killed while 19 people were injured, five of them critically.

US authorities are investigating the outbreak of violence in Virginia following a white nationalist rally that killed one person and injured more than 30, presenting US President Donald Trump with a major domestic challenge.

The violence in the southern college town of Charlottesville on Saturday was widely condemned, with many politicians and activists on both the left and right also criticizing Trump, a Republican, for waiting too long to address it and when he did so, failing to explicitly condemn the white-supremacist marchers who ignited the melee.

Virginia police have not yet provided a motive for a man plowing a car into a crowd of people objecting to the white nationalists, but US attorneys and the FBI have opened a civil rights investigation into the crash.

Four people have been arrested, including James Fields, a 20-year-old white man from Ohio who is being held in jail on suspicion of crashing the car. The vehicle killed a 32-year-old woman and injured 19 people, five of them critically.

Federal authorities were also looking into a helicopter crash on Saturday that killed two Virginia state policemen aiding efforts to quell the clashes.

Yesterday morning, Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and White House adviser, appealed on Twitter for Americans to “be one country UNITED. #Charlottesville.” She also posted: “There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis.”

US Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, who chairs the Republican Party’s Senate election effort, called on the president to condemn “white supremacists” and to use the term.

“Calling out people for their acts of evil — let’s do it today — white nationalist, white supremacist,” Gardner said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “We will not stand for their hate.”

An organizer of Saturday’s “Unite the Right” rally, which was to protest the planned removal of Confederate war hero Robert E. Lee’s statue from a park, said supporters of the event would not back down.

“Absolutely we are going to have further demonstrations in Charlottesville because our constitutional rights are being denied,” said Jason Kessler, whom civil rights groups identified as a white nationalist blogger. 

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, declared an emergency and halted Saturday’s rally, but that did not stop the violence.

About 15 people were injured after rival groups fought pitched battles using fists, rocks and pepper spray.


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