McAuliffe condemns white supremacists, violence in Charlottesville

Virginia governor holds press conference with local leaders

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Gov. Terry McAuliffe spoke at a press conference with local leaders Saturday evening.

Tim Dodson | Cavalier Daily

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) condemned the violence and chaos associated with the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville at a press conference with local leaders Saturday evening.

“I have a message to all of the white supremacists and the Nazis who came into Charlottesville today,” McAuliffe said in a brief statement delivered in the Lane Auditorium of the Albemarle County Office Building. “Our message is plain and simple — go home.”

“Please go home and never come back. Take your hatred and take your bigotry,” he added.

The “Unite the Right” rally was set to take place at Emancipation Park, but was ultimately declared to be an unlawful gathering shortly before its scheduled noon start. The event attracted hundreds of activists associated with the “alt-right” — which is known for its racist and populist beliefs — and counter demonstrators.

Prior to Saturday, McAuliffe had authorized the Virginia National Guard to be on standby for Saturday’s events.

The chaotic events in downtown Charlottesville became deadly when a car plowed through a crowd near the Downtown Mall, killing one woman and injuring 19 people. Charlottesville Police arrested the man behind the wheel of the vehicle — 20-year-old James Alex Fields, Jr. of Ohio.

He has been charged with second degree murder, three counts malicious wounding and a hit and run charge.

Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas said at the press conference that the woman’s identity would not be released until her next-of-kin was notified. He also said the incident is being investigated as a criminal homicide.

Two other people died in connection with Saturday’s events when a Virginia State Police helicopter crashed into a wooded area near the Birdwood Golf Course. The helicopter had been assisting law enforcement in Charlottesville.

VSP said in a release that Lt. H. Jay Cullen, who was piloting the helicopter, and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates both died in the accident. The crash is under investigation, but authorities said they do not suspect foul play.

Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer and City Manager Maurice Jones also made brief statements at the press conference. Other local officials and leaders, including University President Teresa Sullivan and Albemarle Board of Supervisors Chair Diantha McKeel, were in attendance.

President Donald Trump (R) also condemned the events in Charlottesville in a speech delivered from Bedminster, N.J.

“We want to get this situation straightened out in Charlottesville and we want to study it and we want to see what we are doing wrong as a country, where things like this can happen,” Trump said.

City Council also passed an emergency ordinance Saturday evening giving Thomas more authority to regulate assemblies and public spaces.

“City Council voted unanimously to empower Charlottesville Chief of Police Al Thomas to regulate, restrict or prohibit any assembly of persons, or the movement of persons or vehicles on any public street, sidewalk, right-of-way, park or other publicly-owned property as he deems necessary to protect the City of Charlottesville,” city spokesperson Miriam Dickler said in a Saturday evening email.

According to the text of the ordinance, “Such regulations shall continue in effect until such time as the Chief of Police determines, after consultation with the Charlottesville City Manager, that there no longer exists an imminent threat that constitutes a clear and present danger to public safety.” 

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