Terry McAuliffe attends a church after the tragedy in Charlottesville

Bruno Cirelli
Agosto 15, 2017

Police could have easily separated the barricades and removed all rally participants to the north, away from antifa and into empty streets fully controlled by law enforcement. Both sides equipped with sticks, shields, helmets, and pepper spray went at it over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.

It wasn't until police declared the rally an "unlawful assembly" and Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency that police ordered the gathering to break up and scattered the crowds throughout the city.

Describing it as a "very delicate situation", he said the death of 32-year-old anti-fascist demonstrator Heather Heyer - who was killed in a auto attack on Saturday - could not have been prevented.

Jason Kessler, who organized the "Unite the Right" rally, quickly blamed the police for not keeping the peace.

Heather Heyer died when a vehicle rammed into a group of people who were protesting the presence of white supremacists who had gathered in the city for a rally.

She did not address a plan to prevent the violence in the first place, but witnesses said the perception of a lack of police presence was enough to spur more violent situations in pockets of the crowd. "It is the responsibility of law enforcement to ensure safety of both protesters and counter-protesters. David, I've never seen so many weapons".

David Straughn, another counterprotester, claims he was near Heyer when she was hit by the auto.

At one point, police appeared to retreat and then watch the beatings before eventually moving in to end the free-for-all, make arrests and tend to the injured. President, I'll work with you.

He says that Saturday was a dark day, but that does not think the future has to be too.

Attendees told the newspaper that police waited to intervene. Virginia news outlet NBC12 reported that between 2007 and 2011 Albemarle County, where Charlottesville is located, "stockpiled 154 guns, mainly 5.56-millimeter rifles".

Like every other state in the U.S., Virginia has received millions of dollars' worth of surplus military equipment over the years through the Pentagon's 1033 program, which distributes military gear to state and local police. They wielded lit tiki torches and chanted slogans like "You will not replace us" and "blood and soil", a racist ethnic nationalist expression popularized by the Nazis during World War II.

Neither Charlottesville Police nor Virginia State Police immediately responded to CNN's requests for comment. "That's what the city of Charlottesville is".

State and city officials, on the other hand, have come out in defense of the police's actions. "There's no place for it in this country and we have got to work together as I told the president yesterday twice", Gov. Terry McAuliffe told NBC News' Tom Costello in an exclusive interview on Sunday. "And yet not a shot was sacked, zero property damage". "No property damage. They kept us safe". The state leader has come forward to speak out to the white supremacists coming out to protest with hate in Charlottesville.

Charlottesville mayor Mike Signer condemned the rally on his Facebook page Friday night, where he wrote: "Everyone has a right under the First Amendment to express their opinion peaceably, so here's mine: not only as the Mayor of Charlottesville, but as a UVA faculty member and alumnus, I am beyond disgusted by this unsanctioned and despicable display of visual intimidation on a college campus".

"We had on the ground here the largest deployment of law enforcement professionals in Virginia since 9/11", Signer said.

Corinne Geller, spokeswoman for the Virginia State Police, echoed the mayor's remarks and told WCAV that police don't tell people where to stand at a protest.

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