Charlottesville (United States) (AFP) – A picturesque Virginia city erupted in violence Saturday as white nationalist demonstrators and counter-protesters clashed, with a car plowing into a group of people and President Donald Trump urging Americans to “condemn all that hate stands for.”
The state’s governor had already declared a state of emergency when a vehicle rammed into a crowd in normally tranquil Charlottesville, an incident in which police reported “multiple injuries” and “several pedestrians struck.”
Hundreds had descended on the university city either to march in or rail against a “Unite the Right Rally.” Unrest quickly flared.
“We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for,” Trump tweeted. “There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Let’s come together as one!”
Ambulances quickly arrived at the scene of the car crash, which a witness told AFP was “intentional” — saying one girl got “tore up” after the car “backed up and they hit again.”
He said the dark sedan “raced down here, jumped over the speed bumps and it backed up and it hit everyone again.”
“There was a girl that was on the ground; she was trying to get up,” he added.
Earlier in the day Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency, saying he was “disgusted by the hatred, bigotry and violence these protesters have brought to our state over the past 24 hours.”
The previous evening hundreds of torch-bearing marchers demonstrated at the University of Virginia campus.
“It is now clear that public safety cannot be safeguarded without additional powers, and that the mostly out-of-state protesters have come to Virginia to endanger our citizens and property,” McAuliffe wrote in a statement on his emergency declaration.
– ‘No fascist USA’ –
Before the collision police began clearing the city’s Emancipation Park after declaring those gathered there to be part of an “unlawful assembly.”
By midday local authorities had reported one arrest and said emergency personnel had responded to eight injuries.
An AFP journalist at the scene witnessed demonstrators, some clad in militia uniforms, throwing punches and hurling bottles even before the official 12 pm EST (1600 GMT) rally start time.
State police also tweeted that some crowd members were using pepper spray, and local media footage showed images of riot police, national guard members and an armored vehicle in the city’s downtown.
Video footage from the demonstrations showed anti-racism protesters waving flags from the…