At least one person was killed when a car plowed into a group of counter-protesters at a white supremacist rally in Virginia on Saturday afternoon, authorities said.
Shocking video from the scene shows a vehicle zooming toward the crowd in downtown Charlottesville, VA. The car appeared to strike two other vehicles, sending protesters flying onto their windshields. Video showed blood spattered on the windshield of one car.
“I am heartbroken that a life has been lost here,” said Charlottesville mayor Mike Singer.
Witnesses said the driver – going about 40 miles per hour – rammed into the crowd on purpose.
“Yeah, it was intentional,” said a witness. “About 40 miles an hour, hit about 15-20 people, crashed into the two cars in front of it, and then backed up and sped away while cops were standing on the side of the road and didn’t do anything.”
Video showed the car backing away from the crash scene at high speed.
Video of car hitting anti-racist protestors. Let there be no confusion: this was deliberate terrorism. My prayers with victims. Stay home. pic.twitter.com/MUOZs71Pf4
— Brennan Gilmore (@brennanmgilmore) August 12, 2017
Local cops reported at least six pedestrians were struck, and ordered people to clear the site of the incident while medics responded.
The incident occurred two hours after police shut down a white nationalist rally before it could even begin in a Charlottesville park. The shutdown came after hours of violent brawls between white supremacists and counter protesters.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency — after which authorities ordered hundreds of people out of the downtown Charlottesville park, where hundreds of right wing activists, holding shields and swinging clubs, were protesting the removal of a Confederate statue.
Among those attending were Ku Klux Plan Imperial Wizard David Duke, alt-right leader Richard Spencer and white nationalist Jason Kessler, the rally’s organizer.
The hundreds of counter-protestors included Black Lives Matter activists and Princeton professor Cornel West.
Protestors threw punches, hurled plastic bottles and sprayed chemical irritants on each other. Several men were seen with blood running down their faces.
Using megaphones, cops ordered everyone out of Emancipation Park at about 11:40 a.m. The rally had been scheduled for noon.
The violence erupted soon after hundreds of far-right protestors poured into the park where officials plan to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
Charlottesville and Virginia state police in riot gear stood nearby but at first did nothing to break up the fighting, the Washington Post reported. A large group of self-described “militia” wearing combat gear and bearing long guns also did not stop the brawls.
After cops cleared them from the park, the white nationalists, carrying Confederate flags and shouting racist slogans, marched through downtown Market St., where skirmishes continued to break out into the early afternoon.
Saturday’s rally comes after torch-carrying white nationalists, yelling “white lives matter” and Nazi slogans, marched through the University of Virginia Friday night. Counter-protestors said they were sprayed with pepper spray and lighter fluid.