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One fatality in car ramming at white supremacist rally in Virginia

Saturday, August 12, 2017
dpa


WASHINGTON - One person died Saturday in a car ramming that capped a day of violence in Charlottesville, Virginia after white nationalist groups rallied against the city-ordered removal of a statue of the general who led southern forces in the US Civil War.

Nineteen other people were injured in the car ramming on a street in the centre of the university city located about 187 kilometres south-west of Washington, the city said on Twitter.

Fifteen other injuries were reported in a day of chaos and violence touched off by the rally that attracted leaders and members of the country's largest neo-Nazi group, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Members of the Klu Klux Klan joined in with the protests along with various activists associated with the so-called "alt-right," militia members and Confederate heritage groups, news reports said.

President Donald Trump condemned the violence but was criticized for not mentioning the role of white nationalists in neither his public statements nor on Twitter.

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides," Trump said, speaking from his resort at Bedminster, New Jersey.

He urged Americans "to come together ... with love for our nation and true affection for each other."

Before making the statement Trump condemned the violence on Twitter, but he was also criticized for that statement because it did not refer to white supremacists or far-right groups.

Trump, who had scheduled the appearance to sign a bill providing funding for veterans' health care programmes, ignored questions shouted by reporters asking why he would not denounce white nationalists who were at the rally, including David Duke, former leader of the racist white supremacist Ku Klux Klan.

Duke said the groups represented at the rally wanted to "take our country back" and "fulfill the promises of Donald Trump." Duke was seen making the comments in a video posted by the Indianapolis Star.

The white nationalist groups organized their "Unite the Right" march and rally to protest the removal of a monument to civil war general Robert E Lee.

Violence erupted early in the day as people shouted and cursed at one another, shoved each other, threw projectiles and used clubs during street fights, according to news reports.

Police in riot gear stepped in, and both Virginia's governor local law enforcement authorities declared a state of emergency.

The car ramming occurred as counter-protesters marched toward the centre of the city after police ordered white nationalists to clear a park and declared the "Unite the Right" demonstration illegal.

The driver of the car reversed and sped away but was later arrested, according to news reports.

The Ku Klux Klan demonstrated in Charlottesville in July over the same statue of Robert E Lee, the general who led the Confederate army of the US southern states during the US civil war.

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