CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) - Hundreds of people chanted, threw punches, hurled water bottles and unleashed chemical sprays on each other Saturday after violence erupted at a white nationalist rally in Virginia. At least one person was arrested.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency, and police dressed in riot gear ordered people at the rally in Charlottesville to disperse after chaotic clashes between white nationalists and counter-protesters.
Small bands of protesters who showed up to express their opposition to the rally were seen marching around the city peacefully by midafternoon, chanting and waving flags. Helicopters circled overhead. As of 12:30 p.m., a city spokeswoman said a single arrest was reported. Emergency medical personnel have responded to eight injuries related to the event.
Right-wing blogger Jason Kessler had called for what he termed a "pro-white" rally to protest the city of Charlottesville's decision to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from a downtown park.
Colleen Cook, 26, stood on a curb shouting at the rally attendees to go home.
Cook, a teacher who attended the University of Virginia, said she sent her son, who is black, out of town for the weekend. "This isn't how he should have to grow up," she said.
Cliff Erickson leaned against a fence and took in the scene. He said he thinks removing the statue amounts to erasing history and said the "counterprotesters are crazier than the alt-right." "Both sides are hoping for a confrontation," he said.
It's the latest confrontation in Charlottesville since the city about 100 miles outside of Washington, D.C., voted earlier this year to remove a statue of Lee.