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US white nationalist protest turns deadly

China Daily | Updated: 2017-08-14 08:45

US white nationalist protest turns deadly

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia - A car rammed into a crowd of protesters and a state police helicopter crashed into the woods on Saturday as tensions boiled over at a white supremacist rally. The violent day left three dead, dozens injured and this usually quiet college town a bloodied symbol of the roiling racial and political divisions in the United States.

The chaos erupted around what is believed to be the largest group of white nationalists to come together in a decade - including neo-Nazis, skinheads, members of the Ku Klux Klan - who descended on the city to "take America back" by rallying against plans to remove a Confederate statue. Hundreds of counter-protesters came to oppose the racism. There were street brawls and violent clashes; the governor declared a state of emergency; police in riot gear ordered people out; and helicopters circled overhead.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer, both Democrats, lumped the blame squarely on the rancor that has seeped into US politics and the white supremacists who came from out of town into their city, which is home to Monticello, the plantation owned by the third US president, Thomas Jefferson.

"There is a very sad and regrettable coarseness in our politics that we've all seen too much of today," Signer said at a news conference. "Our opponents have become our enemies, debate has become intimidation."

Some of the white nationalists at Saturday's rally cited President Donald Trump's victory after a campaign of racially charged rhetoric as validation for their beliefs.

Trump criticized the violence in a tweet Saturday, followed by a news conference and a call for "a swift restoration of law and order".

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides," he said.

Associated Press

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