Both Charlottesville Virginia and the state of Virgina have officially declared a state of emergency in the wake of violence at “Unite the Right” protests and counter protests Saturday morning. At least two people have been treated for serious but non life-threatening injuries.
Interim County Executive and Virginia’s Director of Emergency Management Douglas C. Walker officially signed the order to declare a state of emergency at 11:06 a.m. EST
Media outlets and political pundits are referring to Charlottesville, Virginia as “ground zero” for white supremacists, as the city continues to endure protests led by neo-Confederates, Ku Klux Klan members, and the self-proclaimed “alt-right.”
Saturday's "Unite the Right" march came after torch-bearing white nationalists descended upon the University of Virginia on Friday, to protest the removal and renaming of several high-profile Confederate landmarks.
Officials from the Anti-Defamation League believe the “Unite the Right” march could eclipse the numbers from Friday and previous demonstrations, to become what they deemed the “largest white supremacist gathering in a decade.”
According to an ABC News report, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe placed the National Guard on standby in anticipation of any potential violence. Initial reports have noted at least one member claiming to represent Unite the Right pulling a firearm on someone.
Counter rallies are also being held in adjacent locations, and anti-hate groups are facing off with the white supremacists amid their protest in Emancipation Park. A cursory search of the Twitter hashtag #UniteTheRight quickly brings up numerous members taking selfies with firearms, and there were multiple reports of violence Saturday, as various factions of the assembled white supremacy groups faced the counter protestors.
Members of the antifascist group “Antifa” were captured on video exchanging blows with a faction of the alt-right crowd. Members from the Workers World Party were on hand.
Virginia residents have been split after the city voted to remove a statue of Confederate Civil War General Robert E. Lee back in April. Other Confederate landmarks around the city and state have either been renamed or removed, causing backlash from white supremacists and other extremist groups.
According to Charlottesville City Manager Maurice Jones, roughly 1,000 law enforcement officers and first responders are on hand. That is estimated to be the largest deployment by Virginia State Police in 30 years.
After an extended delay, Donald Trump and Mike Pence addressed the situation at hand with broad platitutdes.
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2017
Trump would follow up his initial Tweet with an excuse for why the initial response took so long.
Am in Bedminster for meetings & press conference on V.A. & all that we have done, and are doing, to make it better-but Charlottesville sad!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2017
Attorney General Jeff Sessions released his own statement shortly after Trump, calling the violence in Charlottesville "contrary to American values."
"I have been in contact with our Department of Justice agents assisting at the scene and state officials," Sessions said in statement obtained by CBS reporter Paula Reid. "We will continue to support our state and local officers on the ground in any way possible. We stand united behind the president in condemning the violence in Charlottesville and any message of hate and intolerance. This kind of violence is totally contrary to American values and can never be tolerated. I want to thank all law enforcement personnel in the area for their commitment to protecting this community and the rule of law."