Update 3:30 pm: At least 10 people were reportedly struck by a car speeding through an area crowded with counter-protestors. One death was announced by Charlottesville mayor Mike Signer, who has repeatedly asked demonstrators to go home.
Update 12:05 pm: Before noon, Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency, ending the Unite the Right rally before it had formally begun. Violence had already broken out as participants and protestors gathered throughout the morning.
Only a few weeks after an appearance by the Ku Klux Klan on July 8, the town of Charlottesville, Virginia, faces another gathering of the radical right. Today, the so-called “Unite the Right” rally—which has in fact divided US conservatives over its association with racism—will protest the proposed removal of a Civil War statue from a Charlottesville public park.
The rally has been billed as one of the largest confluence of far-right groups in the past few years, though organizers initially estimated an attendance of just 1,000 participants.
Protestors against the event have also gathered. Charlottesville (pop. 50,000) is home to the University of Virginia, and a bastion for Democrats in the area. The event was challenged in court, and AirBnB has reportedly prevented some Unite the Right attendees from making local lodging reservations on its platform.
Last night (Aug. 11), some early arrivals staged a torchlight march on the University of Virginia’s campus. Footage showed a procession of people marching through the park with burning torches. Openly showing their faces, the crowd of mostly men engaged in Nazi salutes and chants.
Local authorities fear violence might erupt during the rally, and the governor has advised locals to avoid it. As the rally started this morning, participants marched through the town’s Emancipation park chanting “blood and soil.”