Police Prepare for Virginia Rally Protesting Removal of Confederate Statue

Trump Silent As Alt Right Nazis Carry Out Acts Of Violence Against Protesters In Charlottesville

The Unite the Right rally, slated to take place in McIntire Park, is in part a response to the city's decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a municipal park.

Pictures from the protests last night showed white supremacists holding torches in the air and chanting slogans such as "one people, one nation, end immigration" as they clashed with anti-fascism protesters. The clashes began the previous evening, resulting in at least one arrest.

Noting that most of the protesters were from out of the state, McAuliffe said the emergency was declared to assist local government in restoring public safety.

Friday's march drew condemnation from local and university officials.

Numerous combatants on both sides wore helmets and held shields, and some in the crowd brandished wooden poles. Men dressed in militia uniforms were carrying shields and openly carrying long guns.

As thousands of white nationalist and alt-right protesters descended on Charlottesville for the "Unite the Right" rally Saturday, voices from both sides of the aisle have emerged to condemn the gathering's violence and rhetoric. "We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump". He added that he has "confidence in state/local law enforcement".

Using megaphones, police declared an unlawful assembly at about 11:40 a.m., and gave a five-minute warning to leave Emancipation Park, where hundreds of neoNazis, Ku Klux Klans members and other white nationalists had gathered to protest the removal of a Confederate statue.

"Charlottesville Police and Virginia State Police are on the scene of a three vehicle accident at Water and 4th Streets in Downtown Charlottesville", the Charlottesville Police Department said in a statement.

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Dubbed the "Unite the Right Rally", the gathering could mark one of the most significant demonstrations of its kind in decades, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors extremist groups.

Officials have been preparing for the rally for months.

The city claimed that this was a result of the high number of expected attendees, and not because of public pressure to stop the rally from taking place, Claire Gastañaga, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia, told ABC News.

City Attorney S. Craig Brown disagreed, saying the statements were simply councilors exercising their First Amendment rights.

The rally comes shortly after a large group of torch-bearing white nationalists marched through the University of Virginia (UVA) campus Friday night, after a judge issued a ruling allowing Saturday's protest to move forward.

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

Speaker of the US House of Representatives Paul Ryan described the rally as "vile bigotry".

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