Charlottesville police declared a state of emergency just before 11:30 a.m. Saturday, even before a rally of alt-right and nationalist groups gathered on the campus of the University of Virginia to protest Charlottesville, Virginia’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Officials announced that they were declaring a state of emergency just prior to the “Unite The Right” rally in downtown Charlottesville, which was scheduled to begin at noon, to allow them to bring in more resources from outside jurisdictions following clashes between those groups and counter-protesters.
“Charlottesville City Manager Maurice Jones and Interim County Executive Doug Walker have simultaneously issued a Declaration of Local Emergency for the two jurisdictions,” the statement read. “This joint declaration allows local officials to request additional resources if needed to respond to ongoing events in the community, which are currently localized in downtown Charlottesville.”
Police originally stated that the rally wouldn’t be shut down by the state of emergency declaration, but violent clashes caused Virginia’s state police to deem the rally an “unlawful assembly” shortly before noon Saturday, despite the fact that the group had the blessings of a judge prior to holding the event. People who refused to leave are being arrested.
Not long after Charlottesville authorities declared a local state of emergency, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency to aid the response to the rally.
Social media posts from the scene have shown a group of predominantly white men, although there are quite a few women there as well, flooding into Charlottesville. Many are sporting homemade shields, and reports indicate that some have thrown bottles filled with cement at counter-protesters.
The white nationalist groups are being met by the so-called antifa, or anti-fascist, groups who have shown up in the town to counter their rally.
On Friday night, hundreds of the protesters gathered at the campus of the University of Virginia after a federal judge ruled earlier that day that their rally could take place and marched through the campus holding torches and chanting slogans like “white lives matter” and “you will not replace us,” which lawmakers and news outlets are calling “hate speech” in an apparent lead-up to the Saturday demonstration. Police shut down the pre-rally event after violent clashes broke out between the nationalists and antifa gangs.
Some armed militia groups have also entered the town. They have refused to say which side they are taking, but they are reportedly there to keep the peace.
On social media, rally-goers are complaining that police are doing nothing about the nationalists being attacked by the antifa protesters.
— ACLU of Virginia (@ACLUVA) August 12, 2017
Another fight. Cops nowhere. pic.twitter.com/MYcXDL2p44
— Baynard Woods (@baynardwoods) August 12, 2017
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