Multiple people have been injured after a car plowed into a crowd of people who were peacefully marching in downton Charlottesville following the cancellation of a white supremacist rally on Saturday.
Witnesses say a gray vehicle sped through the city’s downtown and appeared to intentionally aim for the crowd of counter-demonstrators. Video of the event shows it striking people and then speeding off.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency “to aid state response to violence” ahead of a “Unite the Right” rally expected in Charlottesville, the home of the University of Virginia.
The rally was planned for noon, but the city of Charlottesville declared Saturday’s gathering an unlawful assembly before it could officially begin.
McAuliffe’s action came as demonstrators violently clashed Saturday morning ahead of the rally, which was attracting white nationalists and right-wing groups from all over the country. It also came hours after torch-bearing protesters scuffled with opposition demonstrators Friday night on the grounds of the University of Virginia.
Charlottesville officials also declared a local emergency, which will allow officials to request additional resources to handle the thousands of people expected. Over 1,000 officers were expected to be deployed, city officials told CNN.
An unknown number of arrests have been made as things became extremely violent.
Charlottesville has become the new battleground for white national idealists after the city decided to remove symbols of its confederate past, specifically a statue of General Robert E. Lee.
On Friday, the group waved torches and chanted “White lives matter” and Nazi slogans as they marched through the University of Virginia. Charlottesville mayor Mike Signer condemned the march as a “parade of hatred”.
The White House has yet to release a statement.