WARNING: Graphic video content.


Feds open civil rights investigation

Updated: 11:30 p.m.

U.S. officials have opened a civil rights investigation into the circumstances of the deadly car attack that took place amid clashes of white nationalists and counter-demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The investigation was announced late Saturday by officials of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Virginia and the Richmond field office of the FBI.

In a statement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions says U.S. Attorney Rick Mountcastle has begun the investigation and will have the full support of the Justice Department.

Sessions says, "The violence and deaths in Charlottesville strike at the heart of American law and justice."

He adds, "When such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated."

 The Associated Press


Richard Spencer blames police for violence

11 p.m.

A white nationalist blames police for the violence that erupted before and after a rally where he was scheduled to speak before it turned deadly.

Richard Spencer told The Associated Press on Saturday that he doesn't take responsibility for the violence and accused state and local police of endangering lives in how they handled the rally.

Spencer said that he "did not attempt to engage in any kind of violence. So the idea that I could be held responsible is absurd. It's like blaming the fire department for a fire."

He said that he was pepper-sprayed twice during the day.

Spencer said he recommended that people should disperse after the state of emergency was declared.

Spencer also said he found President Donald Trump's comments on the Charlottesville violence to be "rather vague and kind of lame."

— The Associated Press


State police arrested 3 in Charlottesville

Updated: 11 p.m.

Virginia State police arrested three men in connection to the rally in Emancipation Park on Saturday.

At 10:12 p.m., police said in a release that Troy Dunigan, 21 of Chattanooga, Tenn.; Jacob L. Smith, 21, of Louisa; and James M. O'Brien, 44, of Gainesville, Fla., had been arrested. Dunigan was charged with disorderly conduct. Smith was charged with misdemeanor assault and battery. O'Brien was charged with carrying a concealed handgun.

Police said booking photos of the three men were not yet available.


Council votes to empower police to enact curfew

Updated: 8:24 p.m.

CHARLOTTESVILLE — At an emergency meeting, City Council voted unanimously to give the police the power to "regulate, restrict or prohibit" any assembly of people and the power to prohibit people or vehicles on any public property.

A news release about council's decision was posted on Mayor Mike Signer's Facebook page at 8:13 p.m. 

“The Council's decision to give Chief Thomas the authority to enact a curfew as appropriate was made out of an abundance of caution,” said Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer. “We did so, having full confidence in Chief Thomas and regional law enforcement's ability to make the final call.”

Chief Thomas has yet to take any action, according to the release.


 

32-year-old woman killed in car attack

CHARLOTTESVILLE — Police Chief Al Thomas says a 32-year-old woman was killed when a car plowed into a crowd of counter-protesters on the Downtown Mall. The death is being investigated as a homicide.

The identity of the woman is being withheld until family can be notified.

In a news conference, Thomas said the case will be pursued as "criminal homicide." 

— The Daily Progress


Rally organizer said driver of car 'did the wrong thing'

Updated: 5:20 p.m.

The organizer of a rally that drew hundreds of white nationalists and other extremists to Charlottesville says he disavows the violence that eroded it.

Jason Kessler said in an interview Saturday evening that whoever drove a car into a group of counter-protesters "did the wrong thing." He said he was saddened that people were hurt.

Kessler is a local blogger and activist who described the event as a pro-white rally. He planned it to protest the city's decision to remove a Confederate monument.

He also criticized law enforcement's response to the event, which was dispersed before speakers could take the stage.

He said they did a poor job controlling the chaos to allow free speech.


Driver of car in custody

Updated: 4:15 p.m.

A state official said the driver of a car that plowed into a group of marchers in Charlottesville is in police custody.

Virginia Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran said the driver, a man, has been arrested.

Moran did not immediately provide a name of the driver.

Witnesses say a car plowed into a crowd of people who were protesting a rally, which was held by white nationalists who oppose the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee by the city of Charlottesville. Officials say one person was killed and at least 26 were treated at local hospitals.


Car plows into crowd, killing one, near Charlottesville's Downtown Mall

Updated: 3:24 p.m.

CHARLOTTESVILLE — A hospital official says one person has died and 19 were injured after a car plowed into a group of protesters in Charlottesville.

University of Virginia Medical Center spokeswoman Angela Taylor confirmed the death to The Associated Press.

A state official says the driver of the car is in custody.

Mayor Mike Signer said in a tweet that he was "heartbroken that a life has been lost" after a vehicle appeared to intentionally drive into a dense crowd of people protesting a white nationalist rally. 

State police spokeswoman Corrine Geller said multiple people were being treated with injuries ranging from minor to life threatening. 

Geller said the vehicle had been located but could not immediately confirm whether the driver had been apprehended. 

She described a three-vehicle crash that witnesses said sent people flying into the air. The witnesses said the vehicle, a gray Dodge Charger, then reversed and fled. 

"Unfortunately, this is not a good day for Charlottesville," Geller said. "It's not a good day for Virginia."

The crash took place just off Charlottesville's Downtown Mall, a popular walking district a block away from Emancipation Park, where the white nationalists had staged their rally this morning.

Witnesses said the car drove into a group of counter-protestors, causing 15-20 people to be injured, during Saturday’s civil unrest in downtown Charlottesville.

University of Virginia student Matt Corbon said he was about 20 feet from where the car sped into a group of counter-protesters, marching against the alt-right, white supremacist rally being held in the city, slamming into them on Fourth Street, between Water and Main.

“The protesters were marching left. They kind of bottled up against the construction down the street. It was just starting to turn left, to turn down the mall,” Corbon said. “I think it was dying down for the day, honestly. Suddenly there was this tire-screeching sound and the whole column of cars that were caught in the middle of protestors started to move forward. Suddenly everyone was running way. … The car that caused everything hit the trunk of a silver sedan, then reversed aggressively back through the crowd.”

New York photographer Michael Nigro was even closer to the crowd, he said, when the Dodge Charger sped into the counter-protesters, sending people scattering. Nigro said the car then reversed back toward Main Street, striking more people as it drove away.

Police officers on the scene would not comment on the incident.

"Oh, it was absolutely intentional," said Charlottesville resident Everhard Jehle, who witnessed the crash. 

"They had no where to go," said another witness Chris, who declined to give his last name. "He built up speed for at least two blocks."

Charlottesville police posted this statement on Facebook:

"Charlottesville Police and Virginia State Police are on the scene of a three vehicle accident at Water and 4th Streets in Downtown Charlottesville. Multiple injuries are reported. People should clear the area to allow emergency medical personnel to respond. We will release more information as we are able"

— Ned Oliver, Mike Barber and The Associated Press

 

 


1 arrested, 8 injured at white nationalist rally in Charlottesville

Posted: 1:55 p.m.

CHARLOTTESVILLE — A massive white nationalist rally in this progressive Virginia college town turned violent Saturday morning before it was even set to begin, with intense skirmishes breaking out between counterprotesters and attendees.

Pepper spray filled the air as the two groups engaged in physical fights. At one point, the rally attendees, many of whom were outfitted with shields, guns and sticks, appeared to launch at least four tear gas canisters on the counterprotesters, scattering them in search of medical attention.

At 11:30 a.m., police, who had a heavy presence in the area but for the most part did not intervene in the violence, declared the assembly unlawful and began to clear the park.

The rally, which was called to protest the city’s plan to remove a Confederate Statue from a downtown park and advocate for a mishmash of white nationalist and supremacist positions, had been set to begin at noon. Organizers had expressed a hope that the event, which drew as many as a thousand supporters from around the country, would galvanize their fringe movements into a greater political force.

Attendees quickly dispersed, many looking ragged. As of 12:30 p.m., police reported 1 arrest and eight injuries.

“Police sprayed me, the (counterprotesters) sprayed me, everyone sprayed me,” said 29-year-old William Fears, a contruction worker who traveled from Houston, Texas, to join the rally.

Fears had stripped down to only his underpants because he said his clothes had been drenched in an unknown chemical weapon. He said he travelled to Charlottesville to “defend white history, advocate our rights to exist and to make friends.”

Thousands of Charlottesville residents turned out to make their displeasure with the rally known. Among them was George Stepp, a city native, who waved a large portrait of Barrack and Michelle Obama at the rally attendees, taunting them.

“This is my first time every coming out to a protest like this,” Stepp said. “I just want to get in their mind how great of a president Obama was – rub it in a little bit.”

While many of the rally attendees waved signs expressing support for President Donald Trump, the president denounced the rally in a tweet, saying “We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!”


President, First Lady condemn violence in Charlottesville

Updated: 1:19 p.m.

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump called for peace after violent clashes broke out at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.

The President said at 1:19 p.m. Saturday on Twitter: "We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!"

Melania Trump, about 45 minutes earlier, tweeted: "Our country encourages freedom of speech, but let's communicate w/o hate in our hearts. No good comes from violence."

Hundreds of white nationalists and counter protestors faced off Saturday in downtown Charlottesville, with several violent clashes erupting.

It's the latest confrontation in the city since it voted to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a downtown park.

— The Associated Press


 

 

Detroit Red Wings denounce use of team logo

Updated: 12:35 p.m.

The NHL's Detroit Red Wings released a statement denouncing the use of their logo at the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and saying they are considering legal action to stop it.

The team says it "vehemently" disagrees with and is not associated with the event. The Red Wings add they are "exploring every possible legal action as it pertains to the misuse of our logo in this disturbing demonstration."

A Michigan-based white nationalist group called the Detroit Right Wings uses the Red Wings' logo. The organization posted on its Twitter account that members had arrived in Charlottesville.

— The Associated Press


Unlawful assembly declared; McAuliffe declares state of emergency

Updated: 12:05 p.m.

The Charlottesville Police Department has declared an unlawful assembly and are asking everyone to leave the area immediately or they will be arrested. 

Police were seen shortly after making arrests.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe has declared a state of emergency "to aid state response to violence at Alt-Right rally in Charlottesville."

Also the University of Virginia put out a statement saying it is cancelling all events effective at noon:

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 (Saturday) effective at noon.

This cancellation includes all academic programming, the scheduled community discussions taking place in the University Libraries, and all UVA Athletic events and programming. The University is monitoring the developments in Charlottesville and continues to coordinate with state and local law enforcement.

The UVA medical center remains open.


Groups using pepper spray

Updated: 11:42 a.m.

A group of white nationalist appeared to launch a barrage of pepper spray at a group of counterprotesters causing them to flee the area. 

Earlier pepper spray appeared to be deployed by a group of counterprotesters. 


Local emergency declared in Charlottesville, Albemarle

Updated: 11:20 a.m.

According the The Daily Progress, the city of Charlottesville declared a local emergency in response to the Unite the Right rally, which was set to formally begin at noon.

The Charlottesville Police Department posted this on their Facebook page:

Charlottesville City Manager Maurice Jones and Interim County Executive Doug Walker have simultaneously issued a Declaration of Local Emergency for the two jurisdictions. 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. Scheduled activities outside the downtown area are not impacted by ongoing events or by this declaration at this time. Local officials continue to closely monitor the situation and will provide additional details as they are available.


 

Marchers, counterprotesters clash in Charlottesville

Posted: 11:08 a.m.

A couple scuffles broke out as a large group of white nationalist marched into Emancipation Park. 

Pepper spray was deployed by counterprotesters and people scattered. 

Members of a counterprotest group named Antifa were seen throwing balloons filled with pink paint at the white nationalists. One balloon struck a police care. 

Then both sides started throwing water bottles at each other. 

Minutes before the altercations, Richard Spencer was seen arriving at the park surrounded by what appeared to be body guards. 


 

State police: Two injured at rally

Posted: 10:49 a.m.

At 10:34 a.m., Virginia State Police tweeted that two people had sustained serious injuries in an altercation at the rally in Charlottesville.

Police said the injuries are not life-threatening.


 

 

A hectic scene develops early in Charlottesville 

Posted: 10:38 a.m.

A large crowd of white nationalists — some heavily armed militia members — has already gathered around Emancipation Park.

Just after 10 a.m., a group of militant counterprotesters, known as Antifa, marched toward them. Militia members moved in but there was no serious confrontation.

They chanted "f--- you Nazis, go home."

The white nationalist countered with their own chant: "F--- you f-----."


Militias, the KKK and 'Alt-Knights' from across the country plan to attend

Posted: 10:04 a.m.

A broad mish-mash of fringe right-wing and white-nationalist groups are expected to attend. In online posts promoting the event, organizers said they hope the rally will become a defining moment in a white nationalist movement that has been enlivened by the election of President Donald Trump, who many of the groups strongly supported.

The Charlottesville Police Department has estimated between 2,000 and 6,000 people will attend. In court filings related to the lawsuit over the event's permit, it was estimated that in addition to any counterprotesters as many as 1,000 white nationalist groups might attend.

Police based their estimate on statements and interviews with expected participants, offering the following breakdown:

"Scheduled rally speaker Mr. Augustus Invectus indicated the expected attendance of 150 security personnel from the Alt Knights and The American Guard.

"Scheduled rally speaker Mr. John Ramondetta indicated that he had heard discussion of the attendance of 200 people from Texas, a separate contingent from Florida and an additional 40 people from California.

"Chief Vetting Officer and Official Spokesperson of the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights ("FOAK") Trace Chiles indicated that he expects 200 (with a minimum of 150) FOAK members and 75-100 "Patriot Men" to attend, and further projected a total of 1,000 people would attend in support of the rally.

"Imperial Wizard of the Rebel Brigade of Knights for the KKK Bill Snuffer stated and estimated 250-500 members of four different groups of the KKK will be attending from the states of Delaware, Florida, and Virginia.

"Imperial Wizard of the Confederate Knights of the Klan Richard Preston estimated that 500 individuals from a group known as "3% Risen" would attend.

"New York State Commander of the Lightfoot Militia George Curbelo estimated that due to the popularity of the event there could be at least 200-300 individuals from his group in attendance."


Participants, police, clergy and observers arriving for rally

Posted: 9:45 a.m.

The Virginia State Police tweeted a couple photos from Charlottesville this morning. 

The first tweet shows rally participants crossing a street, some carrying what appear to be assault-style rifles. 

A second tweet about 45 minutes later shows observers from the National Lawyers Guild talking with state troopers.