A few weeks ago, events in Charlottesville, VA have captured the attention of people throughout the United States. As of August 14th, three people had died and at least 34 were injured as a result of the violence between protesters and counter-protesters.
Conflict began on the night of August 11th, 2017, as protesters gathered in Emancipation Park in objection to the removal of a statue of Robert E Lee. Video was later released of the protesters performing the Nazi salute and chanting Nazi slogans as well as anti-semitic messages. A fight broke out near the end of the night and turned into what seemed to be mobbing.
On the following Saturday morning, protesters and counter-protesters met at Emancipation Park prior to when the protest was scheduled to take place. The air of hostility was immediately evident. Offensive chants were shouted by the protesters, many of which were racist and homophobic. Both sides were prepared for physical confrontation, and fights quickly broke out. Footage of the fights were released showing homemade riot shields, as well as bricks and glass bottles being thrown and swung. A state of emergency was declared within the city. Soon afterwards, a man identified as James Fields drove a car through a crowd of counter-protesters, sending off at least nineteen and killing one, a woman named Heather Heyer. He sped away but was later arrested and charged for second-degree murder, malicious wounding, and failure to stop at an accident resulting in death. Two police officers, Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper pilot Berke Bates also died in a helicopter crash during their attempt to aid public safety.
Notable politicians and public figures have spoken out against the violence, most notably President Trump. He has been praised for speaking out as well as criticized for failing to directly call out white supremacists, the KKK, and neo-Nazis until his staff later clarified his remarks. He later revisited his statement, condemning both sides for violence.
By: Miguel Santiago