Alt-Right Activists Condemn Violence, Dispute Mainstream Account
“Conflicts with mainstream media and politicians’, including Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe’s, characterization of events surrounding the white nationalist Unite the Right rally emerged quickly over the weekend.
“I have a message to all the white supremist [sic] and the Nazis who came into Charlottesville today … You came here today to hurt people and you did hurt people,” McAuliffe told reporters at a press conference Saturday night.
The governor repeatedly emphasized the violence of “nazis” but made no reference to violence by any left-wing group, despite being asked repeatedly about what role such groups may have played in Saturday’s melee. The implication was clear that the violence was an unavoidable result of far-right white identity political groups being allowed to hold a rally.
But a report on police conduct during and after the rally by ProPublica, a left-leaning investigative journalism non-profit, as well as eyewitness accounts by those who participated in the rally itself, have called the simplicity of this characterization into question. Both suggest mismanagement of police resources by political leadership may have exacerbated, rather than controlled, the violence surrounding the rally and the counter-protests, which included mainstream liberals and local faith-based “anti-racism” groups as well as radical leftist “Black Lives Matter” (BLM) and “Anti-Fascist Action” (Antifa) outfits.
Saturday’s rally, ostensibly a demonstration against the potential removal of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s longstanding stature from the Charlottesville, Virginia, park that bore his name until renamed “Emancipation Park,” this year by the city council, turned into the biggest news event in the country Friday as torch-bearing members of disparate, explicitly white nationalist groups, including several “Alt-Right” organizations and a contingent of self-identified neo-Nazis, descended on the home of the University of Virginia. By Saturday afternoon, three people were dead, with several dozen serious injuries.
None of the deaths occurred at the Emancipation Park rally. One, that of 32-year old Virginia-native Heather Heyer, is being treated as an intentional homicide and resulted from one man, James Fields Jr., crashing into a counter protest march that took place in downtown Charlottesville after the Unite the Right rally had been dispersed by police. Fields, a 20-year old from Ohio, has been arrested and charged with murder. He is reported to have been in town for the rally and sources suggest he may have ties to one of the white nationalist groups in attendance, although the leadership of that group has claimed he was entirely unconnected to them. A federal investigation into the incident was also announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions Saturday.
The other two deaths were the result of a Virginia State Police helicopter suffering an accidental crash into a wooded area on the outskirts of Charlottesville. Lieutenant Jay Cullen and Trooper Berke Bates were killed in the crash.
The subsequent declaration of a local state of emergency turned the streets of central Charlottesville into a nearly deserted ghost town with the college town’s bars and restaurants, typically bustling with partygoers and vacationers on a summer weekend, mostly shut.
According to ProPublica reporter A.C. Thompson and his colleagues, “authorities took a largely laissez faire approach, allowing white supremacists and counter-protesters to physically battle.”
ProPublica is a George Soros-funded investigative journalism non-profit. A.C. Thompson is, according to his bio, a reporter “covering the rise in hate crimes in America.”
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