The governor of Virginia declared a state of emergency in Charlottesville, home to the University of Virginia campus, as a march of white nationalists in the city turned violent on Saturday, The New York Times reports.
According to Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, the violence was caused by "mostly out-of-state protesters" who had come into the city for the "Unite the Right" white supremacist rally to protest a plan to remove a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee from a Charlottesville park.
— CNN (@CNN) August 12, 2017
While the rally wasn't scheduled to begin until noon, The Washington Post says that protesters were being ordered out of the city as early as 11 a.m. as things turned violent. Many attendees were reportedly waving Confederate flags and chanting Nazi slogans such as, "You will not replace us,” and “Jew will not replace us." Meanwhile, tensions escalated as counterprotesters increased in numbers, shouting things like, "Nazi scum," at white nationalists.
According to the Times, it was at that point that police retreated, and several people, including a UVA police officer, were injured as fights broke out.
"I am disgusted by the hatred, bigotry and violence these protesters have brought to our state over the past 24 hours," Governor McAulitte told the Washington Post in a statement.
Alt-right torch-bearers converge on Charlottesville and UVA. pic.twitter.com/tOKUj4Ese1
— Hawes Spencer (@HawesSpencer) August 12, 2017
Tensions began earlier on Friday night when thousands of white supremacists and neo-Nazis gathered with torches on the UVA campus to chant hateful messages, where they also clashed with counterprotesters.
University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan "strongly condemned" Friday's protest on campus, saying in a statement, "I am deeply saddened and disturbed by the hateful behavior displayed by torch-bearing protestors that marched on our Grounds this evening. I strongly condemn the unprovoked assault on members of our community, including University personnel who were attempting to maintain order."
The city of Charlottesville has been bracing itself for the march all week, and Airbnb even cancelled bookings made by many of the rally's attendees, accusing them of violating the company's anti-discrimination policy.