USA: "White nationalist" rally blamed for three deaths and 19 injuries
In Charlottesville, Virginia, USA, unrest was underway yesterday because of what US media are calling a "white nationalist" rally during which a terrorist drove a car into a crowd of anti-racist demonstrators, killing one and injuring 19. The clashes began on Friday, 11 August and more scuffles broke out yesterday.
Fox News reported that the pilot and passenger of a helicopter died when it crashed outside of Charlottesville and that State Police linked the crash to the rally. Officials reportedly have not yet provided further details about the connection.
Local authorities had initially allowed yesterday's assembly, then banned it as a threat to public safety, but a court overturned that ban. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (Democrat) announced a state of emergency because of the violence and US President Donald Trump condemned the incidents.
Hundreds of "white nationalists" carrying burning torches first clashed with counter-protesters late Friday night and early Saturday morning at a university campus in Charlottesville because of a dispute over their carrying the Confederate flag, which their critics said was a symbol of racism and slavery. That street battle was eventually dispersed by police using tear gas.
Several thousand adherents of "white supremacy" then assembled the next morning once again for a gathering called "Unite the Right". That action was meant to be a protest against the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from a local park, and opponents of the "white supremacists" counter-demonstrated.
Both groups reportedly shouted at each other, threw water bottles and used pepper spray. Brawls broke out on the streets once again.
Police eventually intervened against the crowd of approximately 6 000 people with the aim of clearing the park. In the interim, a man drove a car into a crowd of anti-racist demonstrators who the Associated Press reports were behaving peacefully, crashing into another car in the process.
CNN reports that attack resulted in one death and 19 injuries. The assailant was later taken into custody, according to a press release issued by local authorities, and has since been charged with murder.
Trump tweeted a call for "unity" and later made a statement condemning the "egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides." In many southern states of the USA the discussion about the legitimacy of displaying the Confederate flag from the days of the American Civil War of 1861-65 has not yet been resolved.
Advocates for displaying the flag claim to regard it as a reference to the region's history, while critics call it a symbol of the racist, slave-holding past of the American South. A wave of efforts to remove Confederate symbols began in the USA after the racially-motivated terrorist attack in 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina, during which a "white supremacist" gunman shot dead nine African-Americans in a church.
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