The FBI, along with the Justice Department’s civil rights division and district attorney’s office, have launched a civil rights investigation into the deadly car crash at a planned white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. One person was killed and 19 others were injured.
20-year-old James Fields, who allegedly plowed his car into a crowd of anti-white nationalist protesters, is being held on suspicion of second degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding, and one hit-and-run count. Three others were arrested after clashes between white nationalists and counter-protesters, which are also being investigated by federal and local authorities. At least 15 people were injured.
Far-right groups had gathered in the college town to protest the removal of a monument to Confederate general Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park as part of a “Unite the Right” event. The rally was ultimately cancelled and governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency. During a press conference on Saturday, McAuliffe was explicit in his condemnation of the white nationalist groups that descended on Charlottesville as early as Friday evening:
I have a message to all the white supremacists and the Nazis who came into Charlottesville today. Our message is plain and simple: Go home. You are not wanted in this great commonwealth. You came here today to hurt people, and you did hurt people. But my message is clear. We are stronger than you. You have made our commonwealth stronger. You will not succeed. There is no place for you here, there is no place for you in America.
Authorities are also investigating a police helicopter crash in the area that killed two state officers. The policemen were monitoring the events unfolding in Charlottesville. Officials do not believe foul play was involved.