Police get involved as protest moves from U.Va. toward downtown Charlottesville

The barricades surrounding the Downtown Mall were removed to make way for demonstrators

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Demonstrators move towards the Downtown Mall during the march on Saturday night.

Jake Gold | Cavalier Daily

As hundreds of protesters broke away from the U.Va. Students United protest around 8 p.m. Saturday at Lambeth Field, police officers cleared the streets as people marched to the Downtown Mall and occasionally physically engaged with demonstrators, though police officials reported no arrests. The evening’s rally criticized white supremacists, the University and the increased police presence in Charlottesville for the one-year anniversary of the violent white supremacist Unite the Right rally.

The protest initially began north of the Rotunda, but then moved to Brooks Hall and over to Lambeth Field. As Students United declared an end to the event, a large group of protesters marched towards the Downtown Mall. 

They moved towards Market Street Park, which features prominently a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee — a stated motivation for last year’s Unite the Right rally and a sticking point for anti-racist activists. Chanting “take that f—ing statue down,” marchers approached and retreated from the park, which was then occupied with police officers in riot gear.

Charlottesville City Council voted last February to remove the statues, but pending litigation — with a dispute over whether the statues are protected by state law — has stopped the process. 

Around 9:30 p.m., protesters dispersed, chanting they will return at 9 a.m. on Sunday for another planned demonstration, entitled the “Still Defending Cville” rally.

While access to the Downtown Mall was restricted over the weekend — the anniversary of the deadly Unite the Right rally last August — the barriers surrounding the mall were removed when demonstrators marched to the mall. Over the weekend, entry to the mall has been restricted to two access points, where visitors and their bags have been searched for restricted items. 

Charlottesville City Hall tweeted Saturday night that the access points would resume on Sunday morning. Police officials declined to comment on who made the decision to remove the barriers and why they were removed.

During the march, Daily Progress reporter Allison Wrabel noted two tussles between police and protesters. The first, Wrabel tweeted, was on Water Street, where an officer and a demonstrator are seen wrestling on the ground.

The second, tweeted by Wrabel, shows a demonstrator pushing past police officers. A person who appears to be another officer subsequently throws her to the ground shortly after.

Some protesters will return for the “Still Defending Cville” rally Sunday morning in Booker T. Washington Park, which is approximately one mile from Market Street Park.

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