Spotlight: Death toll rises to 3 in link with white nationalist rally in Charlottesville

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-13 10:37:53|Editor: Song Lifang
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- The death toll climbed to three in link with violent white nationalist rally held on Saturday in Charlottesville, a historic college town in the U.S. state of Virginia, police said.

Two people were killed after a police helicopter crashed 7 miles (11 km) southwest of Charlottesville, following at least one death with 19 injured in a car crash Saturday afternoon after the police dispersed the "Unite the Right" rally in the downtown.

"I have a message to white supremacists and nazis who came into Charlottesville today," Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe said at a televised press conference on Saturday evening.

"Go home. You are not patriots. You came here today to hurt people. There is no place for you here, there is no place for you in America," the governor said.

Hours earlier, U.S. President Donald Trump said he condemned "in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides." But he did not mention white nationalists and the alt-right movement in his remarks.

Video on social media showed a car at high speed rear-ended another car, then backed up and rammed into pedestrians. Local police later said the car driver who rammed into crowd now is in custody.

Just before the incident, thousands of white nationalists, neo-Confederates and right-wing protesters, as well as groups that oppose them, clashed at the Emancipation Park, the planned site of the rally.

There are reports of urine being tossed at reporters and the air is said to be filled with pepper spray, mace and tear gas. Many protesters are young men in their 20s or 30s, some of them even looking to be teenagers.

McAuliffe declared a state of emergency before 11:00 a.m. local time (1500 GMT), one hour before the march officially kicked off. However, white nationalist leader Richard Spencer reportedly vowed that they would gather again for a future protest against the city's decision to remove a bronze statue of pro-slavery Confederate General Robert Lee in the Emancipation Park.

"This represents a turning point for the people of this country," former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke spoke at the rally. "We are determined to take our country back. We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump."

Before the Saturday rally, hundreds of white supremacists marched through the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville on Friday night, waving torches and chanting "White lives matter", "You will not replace us", "Jews will not replace us" and so on.

Many protesters "express beliefs that directly contradict our community's values of diversity, inclusion and mutual respect," Teresa Sullivan, president of the University of Virginia, said in another statement released hours before the rally.

Charlottesville, home of Thomas Jefferson and the University of Virginia, has become the latest Southern battleground over the contested removal of Confederate monuments.

In April, the city council voted to remove the statue of Robert Lee. The removal is on hold pending litigation but has angered many white supremacists since the council voting. On July 8, about three dozen members of a regional Ku Klux Klan group protested in the city.