updated 5:52 AM UTC, Aug 22, 2017

Three Dead In Wake Of Clashes At White Nationalist Gathering In Virginia

  • Published in U.S.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA: Chaos and violence turned to tragedy Saturday as hundreds of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members - planning to stage what they described as their largest rally in decades to "take America back" - clashed with counterprotesters in the streets and a car plowed into crowds, leaving one person dead and 19 others injured.

Hours later, two state police officers died when their helicopter crashed at the outskirts of town. Officials identified them as Berke M.M. Bates of Quinton, Virginia, who was the pilot, and H. Jay Cullen of Midlothian, Va., who was a passenger. State police said their Bell 407 helicopter was assisting with the unrest in Charlottesville. Bates died one day before his 41st birthday; Cullen was 48.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), who had declared a state of emergency in the morning, said at an evening news conference that he had a message for "all the white supremacists and the Nazis who came into Charlottesville today: Go home. You are not wanted in this great commonwealth."

Maurice Jones, Charlottesville's African-American city manager, looked stricken as he spoke. "Hate came to our town today in a way that we had feared but we had never really let ourselves imagine would," he said.

State and local officials declined to take reporters' questions and abruptly left after making statements.

In an emergency meeting Saturday evening, the Charlottesville City Council voted unanimously to give police the power to enact a curfew or otherwise restrict assembly as necessary to protect public safety.

Video recorded at the scene of the car crash shows a 2010 gray Dodge Challenger accelerating into crowds on a pedestrian mall, sending bodies flying - and then reversing at high speed, hitting yet more people. Witnesses said the street was filled with people opposed to the white nationalists who had come to town bearing Confederate flags and anti- Semitic epithets.

A 32-year-old woman was killed, according to police, who said they were investigating the crash as a criminal homicide. The driver of the Challenger was taken into custody and charges were pending, said Al Thomas, the Charlottesville police chief.

  • Input: IANS