A car crashed into a crowd of peaceful protesters here Saturday after police in riot gear dispersed crowds at the “Unite the Right” rally following bottle-throwing clashes between alt-right demonstrators, counter-protesters, white nationalists, neo-Nazis and supporters of Black Lives Matter.
Photos and video posted on social media showed several people receiving treatment on the ground, but the number of injuries was not immediately known. Nor was it clear whether the driver of the car intentionally plowed into the group of protesters walking peacefully downtown.
Charlottesville officials said two people were treated for serious injuries after fights broke out earlier in the leadup to the rally that city officials declared an “unlawful assembly.”
The pushing and shoving prompted Gov. Terry McAuliffe to declare a state of emergency and played out against a backdrop of unofficial, armed militia groups ringing Emancipation Park, where the rally was called to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Some 500 protesters among the white nationalist and alt-right groups left the park shortly after state police, using megaphones, declared the gathering an “unlawful assembly” at 11:40 a.m., about 20 minutes before the rally was scheduled to begin.
Clusters of alt-right activists and counter-protesters remained, however, raising fears of more clashes. Police then put on gas masks as they stepped up efforts to disperse the crowds, which then left the park.
McAuliffe declared a state of emergency to give local authorities more resources to quell the disturbance.
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SOURCE: USA Today, Doug Stanglin and Gabe Cavallaro