Charlottesville: One killed amid violence over US far-right rally


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Media captionFootage captured the moment a car rammed into a crowd of counter-protesters in Charlottesville

One person has been killed amid violent clashes between white nationalists attending a far-right march and protesters in the US state of Virginia.

The mayor of Charlottesville said he was “heartbroken” at the loss.

It is not clear if the death came when `a car rammed a crowd of opponents of the far-right rally, injuring several.

The “Unite the Right” march was called to protest against plans to remove a statue of a Civil War general. A state of emergency has been declared.

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.”

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AFP

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A number of people received first-aid after a vehicle drove into a crowd

Video posted on social media showed a car ploughing at speed into several slow-moving vehicles, which were surrounded by a densely packed crowd. Emergency services were pictured treating a number of people who were injured.

Some reports suggest there are as many as 10 people wounded.

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

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AFP

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Witnesses said the car backed up and hit the crowd more than once

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

The state of emergency allows local authorities to request additional resources if needed, the police department said.

The far-right protesters, some waving Confederate flags, carrying shields and wearing helmets, are angry about the planned removal of a statue of Gen Robert E Lee from Charlottesville. Gen Lee commanded the pro-slavery Confederate forces in the US Civil War of 1861-65.

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Media captionThe BBC’s Joel Gunter describes the clashes, where groups were armed with shields and batons

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 have also held marches.


At the scene: Bottles thrown

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.

Riot police have been deployed, but tensions remain high, with people screaming at each other and demonstrators still out on the streets.


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.”

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Reuters

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At least two people have been injured in the clashes, police say

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


US Civil War and alt-right links

  • 1861-65 US Civil War between the northern and southern states was principally caused by slavery
  • Southern Confederate forces, which backed slavery, eventually surrendered to Union army and slavery was abolished
  • A number of cities have grappled with Confederate symbols that still exist today, with flags and monuments becoming key venues for alt-right groups in recent months
  • Supporters say Confederate symbols represent freedom and liberty, but opponents say their roots are in slavery
  • The alt-right is a disparate group of provocateurs who hate political correctness and love Donald Trump, but critics say they are bigoted white nationalists

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.

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Reuters

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Members of a white nationalist group were armed and wearing militia uniforms

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 a 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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