Thursday, August 24, 2017

Deadly car attack, violent clashes in Charlottesville: What we know now

Editors, www. usapress.today
Published 9:09 a.m. ET Aug. 13, 2017 | Updated 9:34 a.m. ET Aug. 13, 2017

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Graphic video: A bystander captures the moment a car slams into a crowd at a white nationalist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia.
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Three people were killed and 35 injured in a day of violence surrounding a white supremacist rally in the usually quite college town of Charlottesville, Va. on Saturday.

Early in the day, clashes had broken out as the groups that planned the “Unite the Right” rally were met with counter protesters. After the rally, a car plowed into a crowd, killing one person and injuring 19. Later, a state police helicopter that was monitoring the protests crashed outside the city. 

Here’s what we know now:

Who was killed?

A 32-year-old woman was killed in the car crash, officials said.

Lt. Jay Cullen, 48, of Midlothian, Va. and Trooper-Pilot Berke Bates, 40, of Quinton, Va. were killed in a helicopter crash outside the city, Virginia State Police said. Officials said the crash was linked to the rally but did not clarify how. President Trump tweeted his condolence to “the families & fellow officers of the VA State Police who died.”

Were others injured?

Thirty-five people were injured in clashes between opposing groups and in the car crash. At least nineteen were injured in the crash alone. Charlottesville police chief Al Thomas said the injuries ranged from life-threatening to minor.

Where is the driver now?

The driver has been taken into custody, Virginia Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran said. Albermarle County Regional Jail officials identified the suspect as 20-year-old Alex Fields, of Ohio. 

Thomas said the driver will be charged with criminal homicide.

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Why was there a protest?

White supremacist, alt-right, neo-Nazi and pro-Confederate groups were protesting the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Emancipation Park.

Who organized the rally?

One of the main organizers was right-wing blogger Jason Kessler, who filed a lawsuit against the city. Charlottesville mayor Mike Signer opposed holding the rally near the Lee monument.

Late Friday, U.S. District Judge Glen Conrad ruled that the groups could hold the rally in the park.

Matthew Heimbach, an Indiana resident who has risen to prominence in the white nationalist movement, was also a key figure. Heimbach ordered his followers to push down the metal police barricades that cut the park into separate zones

What was President Trump’s response?

President Trump denounced the violence, declaring that the “hatred and division must stop.”

“I condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of violence and bigotry on many sides,” he added.

He also tweeted condolences to the families of those killed after the rally.

 

Trump made his comments while also announcing his intention to sign a new Veterans Affairs bill. 

Is the FBI or Department of Justice investigating? 

Late Saturday U.S. officials announced that they have opened a civil rights investigation into the circumstances of the deadly car attack.

The investigation was announced Saturday night 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.

“The violence and deaths in Charlottesville strike at the heart of American law and justice,” says Sessions in the statement. “When such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated.”

Is this the first white supremacist rally in Charlottesville?

Beyond Saturday’s planned rally, Charlottesville has been at the center of multiple white supremacist marches recently. 

Several dozen torch-wielding demonstrators, led by prominent white supremacist Richard Spencer, gathered by the Lee statue on May 13 to protest the vote for its removal. 

In July, Ku Klux Klan members held a rally in Charlottesville in Justice Park, where they were met with more than a thousand upset counter-protesters.

Statues of Confederate leaders nationwide have been removed in recent years as communities viewed them as symbols of slavery, but a www. usapress.today analysis in May found that more than 700 Confederate monuments in 31 states still stand.

What happened on UVA’s campus?

On Friday night, more than 200  torch-wielding protesters held a march through the heart of University of Virginia’s campus after the ruling came down that allowed the protest to take place Saturday. Among their chants was: “You will not replace us.”

One arrest was made and several were injured after violence broke out. One of the injured was a UVA police officer hurt while making an arrest.

UVA President Teresa Sullivan “strongly condemned” the “intimidating and abhorrent behavior displayed by the alt-right protestors” on campus Friday night, and reaffirmed the university’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, as well as to First Amendment rights, the university said.

Will there be other rallies?

In a video posted by Spencer Saturday, the white nationalist leader expressed anger at the police response to the gathering — and pledged to return to the city of 46,000.

“We are going to make Charlottesville the center of the universe,” Spencer said. “We are going to come back here often. Your head’s going to spin how many times we’re going to be back down.”

 

Contributing: AP

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