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Charlottesville: State of emergency over USA far-right rally

12 August 2017

The protest was criticised by many local residents and politicians. But they were outnumbered by hundreds of jeering counter protestors.

Conrad also said this claim was bolstered by other evidence, including tweets from Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer and Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy in which they expressed opinions opposing the rally.

Police intervened after some of the demonstrators were sprayed with tear gas.

Some protesters who came for the "Unite the Right" rally were armed and dressed in military-like clothing, while others wore shirts with Nazi symbols and quotes from Adolf Hitler.

In the days leading up to Saturday's planned rally, there had been some back-and-forth about where it would be held.

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Jason Kessler, a blogger who organized the rally, said in a phone interview that his group dispersed after police declared the assembly to be unlawful. Kessler originally planned to hold the rally at Emancipation Park but the city announced earlier this week that it should be held at a larger venue because of safety reasons.

"Our constitutional First Amendment rights were violated", Kessler said, declining to comment on whether his group would try to stage another rally in Charlottesville.

"There is no doubt that Mr. Kessler has a First Amendment right to hold a demonstration and to express his views", the city manager wrote in a statement on August 7.

After the ruling late Friday night, white nationalists and so-called "Unite the right" protesters descended on the University of Virginia campus with tiki torches, which they threw at counter-protesters. The Ku Klux Klan and supporters rallied in the city in July, causing concern at the university, but Friday night's march was on campus, and ended at the Rotunda, a hallowed space at the university. "Hate has no place in Va".

"The violence displayed on the grounds is intolerable and is entirely inconsistent with the university's values", the statement added.

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Police have not released an official statement of how many people were arrested.

Charlottesville: Hours before a noon rally was set to begin on Saturday, violent skirmishes broke out between bands of white supremacists and counter protesters who have converged on the college town of Charlottesville around the issue of a Confederate statue.

Thomas said he was informed the National Guard would monitor the situation. However, that's only deterred a small fraction of the thousands of people expected to attend "Unite the Right". It says those people defy its community standards.

The organization cited a recent radio interview hosted by former KKK leader David Duke, in which a promoter of the event called it "the biggest rally event we've had this millennium".

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