Vehicle plows into crowd at alt-right rally

Hundreds of people threw punches, hurled water bottles and unleashed chemical sprays.

"I am furious & heartsick by the auto crash that has injured many", tweeted Charlottesville mayor Mike Signer. "I urge all people of good will-go home", Mayor Mike Signer tweeted.

Fighting broke out in the city's downtown before noon when hundreds of people, some wearing white nationalist symbols and carrying Confederate battle flags, were confronted by a almost equal number of counter-protesters.

It was not immediately clear if the collision was intentional.

State police had said pedestrians were struck Saturday in a three-vehicle crash.

A month after a Ku Klux Klan rally here ended with police using tear gas on protesters, Charlottesville is bracing for a weekend of white nationalist demonstrations and counterprotests, and suddenly this tranquil college town feels like a city under siege.

Kessler told The Associated Press Saturday that he and other people who were going to speak at the event evacuated with security when police issued the order to disperse.

The Unite the Right rally is being held to protest Charlottesville City Council's decision to remove the Robert E. Lee statue from Emancipation Park.

-This breaking news story will be updated. The protesters are angered at the planned removal of a statue of General Robert E Lee from Charlottesville.

"It is now clear that public safety can not be safeguarded without additional powers, and that the mostly out-of-state protesters have come to Virginia to endanger our citizens and property", said Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. "I place the blame for a lot of what you're seeing in American today right at the doorstep of the White House and the people around the president", he said. At least one person was arrested on Friday, and several people were treated for minor injuries, the Daily Progress newspaper said.

"The white supremacist rally in Charlottesville is the latest indication that the darkest corners of society are emboldened to come forward and openly parade their bigotry on main street", said Greenblatt.

Local blogger Jason Kessler started organizing a "Unite the Right" rally to occur on August 12 to express support for leaving the statue where it is-in the middle of Lee Park (now named Emancipation Park). He then wrote "There is no place for this kind of violence in America".

Response teams from Richmond are now at the scene as well as the Virginia National Guard.

Trump drew flack from critics and Democrats during the campaign for not fulsomely disavowing the alt-right and white supremacists.

The previous evening hundreds of torch-bearing far right marchers demonstrated at the University of Virginia campus, which also turned into a brawl after they were met by counter-protesters. The federal judge then lifted the emergency injunction Friday.

Citing crowd safety concerns, the city of Charlottesville approved a protest permit earlier this week for the event to specifically be held in a different larger park instead of the smaller Emancipation Park where the Lee statue stands.

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