A car plowed into the people in the college town of Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday afternoon, killing one person and injuring several others in the aftermath of a white nationalist rally that turned violent even before it was scheduled to start.
In videos posted on Twitter, a car sped into the crowd, flinging people in the air and smashing into the rear-end of one car, which rear-ended another. The driver then pulled away, speeding in reverse. Police arrested the driver later in the afternoon.
The violence had really begun the right before, when white nationalists marching across the University of Virginia campus carrying torches faced off with counterprotesters. But then things escalated fast Saturday morning, as hundreds of white nationalists gathered for the “Unite the Right” rally, waving Confederate flags and chanting Nazi-era slogans.
President Donald Trump used Twitter to denounce the violence. “We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for,” Trump said in a tweet. “There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Let’s come together as one!” Trump didn’t mention Charlottesville in his first tweet but then sent another message later: “Am in Bedminster for meetings & press conference on V.A. & all that we have done, and are doing, to make it better-but Charlottesville sad!”
White nationalist groups continue to return to Charlottesville partly because they saw the May torch light gathering as a great success, said Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“They loved the imagery of that. They were over the moon about that,” she said. “They viewed it as having been a wonderful recruiting tool.
The University of Virginia, located in Charlottesville, cancelled all events and programming on the school’s campus.