A statue of General Robert E. Lee united hundreds of white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and anti-Semitists Saturday morning in the town of Charlottesville, Virginia. As the rally became increasingly violent, a single act of terrorism changed the lives of more than 20 people.
Earlier Saturday morning, hundreds of white nationalists gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia to protest the planned removal of the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The city council had made the decision to remove the statue back in April. The rally, entitled Unite the Right, attracted countless white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and KKK members to Emancipation Park and the surrounding areas. Although the rally was scheduled to take place at noon, Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency Saturday morning after multiple physical altercations occurred. Additionally, he made a statement directly addressing “all the white supremacists and the Nazis who came into Charlottesville today: Go home. You are not wanted in this great commonwealth.” As the rally continued and the day went on, tensions thickened and violence ensued, forcing police to shut it down. After police made the decision to shut down the rally, racial violence within the streets of Charlottesville reached its peak. The following video reveals how the rally turned deadly within minutes.
The video shows a gray 2010 Dodge Charger recklessly and maliciously speeding through a crowd of counter protesters, colliding with more than 20 people. After the collision, the car can be seen reversing out of the area, leaving roughly 19 people injured and 32-year-old, Heather Heyer, to die. Witnesses confirmed that the targeted group of protesters were against the white nationalist movement. The owner of the car has been identified as James Alex Fields Jr. of Ohio, according to vehicle registration records confirmed by The Washington Post. Fields has been taken into custody, according to Charlottesville police chief, Al Thomas.
Angela Taylor, a cardiologist at the University of Virginia Medical Center, said that along with the 19 who were injured, five were in critical condition. According to city officials, 14 others were injured in street brawls.
Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer expressed his sentiment on Twitter, stating, “I am heartbroken that a life has been lost here, I urge all people of good will — go home.”
I am heartbroken that a life has been lost here. I urge all people of good will–go home.
— Mike Signer (@MikeSigner) August 12, 2017
Later Saturday, President Donald Trump tweeted, “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!” This kind of violence has been around for quite some time and is unfortunately what led to this act of domestic terrorism. James Alex Fields Jr. currently faces charges of second degree murder.