Washington, Aug 12 (PTI) Violent clashes today erupted between white supremacists and counter demonstrators in a rally in the US state of Virginia, prompting the authorities to declare an emergency.
The violence broke out ahead of the ‘Unite the Right’ rally by white supremacists protesting against the planned removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E Lee from a park in the college town of Charlottesville, 256 kilometres from Virginia.
Following the clashes, police and security forces were deployed in riot gears.
“It is now clear that public safety cannot be safeguarded without additional powers, and that the mostly out-of-state protesters have come to Virginia to endanger our citizens and property,” said Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe.
“I am disgusted by the hatred, bigotry and violence these protesters have brought to our state over the past 24 hours,” he said in a statement.
Noting that most of the protesters were from out of the state, McAuliffe said the emergency was declared to assist local government in restoring public safety.
In a Facebook post, Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer condemned the demonstration by white nationalists.
“Today, in 2017, we are seeing a cowardly parade of hatred, bigotry, racism, and intolerance march down the lawns of the architect of our Bill of Rights,” he said.
“I am beyond disgusted by this unsanctioned and despicable display of visual intimidation on a college campus,” he added.
US President Donald Trump took to Twitter to condemn the violence and called for unity.
“We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America.
Let’s come together as one!” Trump tweeted.
Speaker of the US House of Representatives Paul Ryan described the rally as “vile bigotry”.
“The views fuelling the spectacle in Charlottesville are repugnant. Let it only serve to unite Americans against this kind of vile bigotry,” Ryan said.
He was joined by several lawmakers in condemning the violence.
“There’s no place for such hate & violence in our society. Our country needs unity now. The events at #Charlottesville are shameful,” tweeted Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy.
Senate Minority Leader, Charles Schumer, said the march and rally in Charlottesville goes against everything the American flag stands for.
“Charlottesville hate rallies are in stark contrast to everything our nation represents. We reject white supremacy & bigotry of all forms,” said Congressman Mike Quigley.
The “Unite the Right” rally by white supremacist has attracted leaders and members of the country’s largest neo Nazi groups.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.