It remains to be seen whether police could have prevented a crazed motorist for plowing into a crowd of counter-protesters at Saturday’s now-infamous white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. But they almost certainly could have prevented some of the other violent clashes between white nationalists and antifa.
So why didn’t that? That’s the million-dollar question occasioned by a tweet posted Saturday by the ACLU of Virginia that states that police were ordered “[to] not intervene until given command to do so”:
— ACLU of Virginia (@ACLUVA) August 12, 2017
The Daily Caller reported:
Law enforcement was on hand at the dueling demonstrations on Saturday, decked out in riot gear and looking prepared for the worst. Except they weren’t allowed to do their job. …
When police were ordered to disperse the alt-right rally, that act directed the white nationalists into the antifa demonstrators, leading to further street brawls. Police didn’t seem to try to get in between the two groups or suppress the fights.
As ProPublica reported, state police and National Guardsmen mostly stood aside and watched as the violence grew worse.
This appears to be a direct result of what appears to be a stand down order from higher-ups.
Charlottesville Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy defended the police tactics. “I’m not in the business of throwing our police department under the bus, because they’re doing the best job they can, “ said Bellamy. “I don’t think the police officers were just twiddling their thumbs.”
The skirmishes culminated in what appears to have been an act of domestic terrorism, with a driver ramming his car into a crowd of anti-racist activists on a busy downtown street, killing one and injuring 19 according to the latest information from city officials. Charlottesville authorities tonight reported that a 20-year-old Ohio man had been arrested and had been charged with murder.
Breitbart has a slightly different take:
While they undoubtedly dispute ProPublica’s characterization of who was responsible for most of the violence at the official rally, multiple Unite the Right participants who agreed to be interviewed by Breitbart News were themselves largely in agreement about the failings of the policing strategy.
One man, who was vacationing in the United States from Finland, arrived with one of the last waves to get into Emancipation Park before the event was shut down. From his perspective, “these two groups of very polarly opposed political and social and moral views were forced into conflict” by policing tactics. He recounted his experience to Breitbart News:
I was expecting to enter a peaceful protest to protect this monument and part of United States history from utter and total rewriting. I entered with people from the United States who were aware there were going to be counter-protesters. They promised to keep me safe, which they did. But what happened was, the police force, which should have kept the protesting parties separate, in fact funneled the right-wing protesters, the people defending the monument, right into Antifa, [making them run] a gauntlet of Antifa to the monument … Then – I don’t know the details of it – on dubious legal grounds, [the police] declared the gathering of right-wing protesters unlawful. We were forced to leave the venue and run another gauntlet.
Two self-described Alt-Right activists, identified only as “George” and “Sean,” gave similar accounts.
“We’re seeing [projectiles] being thrown back and forth. The police seemed almost to misdirect people, sending them to the wrong side of the park so they would have to go through the crowd [of leftists],” George told Breitbart News.
“What was weird was that the police started forming a shield wall moving on to us, forcing us out onto this narrow staircase where we were right in front of Antifa,” he added.
Another rally attendee, identified as “Andrew,” further said:
We were told by police to walk around the perimeter, past one of the two parks where [the counter-protesters] had a permit to rally. Antifa came out and they started following us down a dead end where the police would not let us through to go to Lee Park, so we had to go back through the lines of [counter-protesters] … at that point a giant melee broke out. It’s hard to say who started it or how it started. It seemed to be some of the Black Lives Matter activists got in our faces and started assaulting us and the natural response was self-defense … What I didn’t expect was the inability or the refusal of the police department to respond to threats.
According to Andrew, officers made no attempt to apprehend the assailant and then recalled having projectiles — including glass bottles — thrown at his group by Antifa activists as they tried to make their way out of the what he called “Lee Park,” Breitbart reported.
Jason Kessler, the organizer of the Unite the Right event, told NBC 29 in Charlottesville that the blame was “primarily the result of the Charlottesville government officials and the law enforcement officers which failed to maintain law and order by protecting the First Amendment rights of the participants of the ‘Unite the Right’ rally.”
We networked with law enforcement officials and safety arrangements were made months ago, but despite this, the Charlottesville Police Department not only failed to act per the plan but exacerbated the violence: they did not separate the demonstrators and counter-demonstrators, they were poorly underequipped for the situation, they stood idly by when violent counter-protesters attacked the participants of the rally and then they forced our demonstrators out of Lee Park and into a melee with Antifa.
“Charlottesville violated the federal court’s order by shutting down the rally at Lee Park after left-wing agitators began throwing bricks at us. Our right to free speech was violated when the police officers acquiesced to the unconstitutional ‘heckler’s veto’ raised by our detractors,” Kessler added.
Kessler was attacked and chased away as he attempted to hold a press conference on Sunday. One man was arrested after he reportedly spit on Kessler.
According to WDBJ:
After blaming a lot of people, Kessler then condemned “any violence” that happened Saturday. “I disavow anything that led to folks getting hurt. It really is a sad day in our constitutional democracy when we are not able to have civil liberties like the First Amendment – that leads to rational discussion –that is what leads to ideas breaking down and people resorting to violence.”
At that point, the crowds chanting profanity grew louder and a man walked up to Kessler with both his middle fingers extended.
Other people rushed forward and Kessler was swept away in a sea of media and demonstrators where the chants “indict for murder now” and “he invited these people” could be heard.
Kessler yelled one more thing before completely disappearing: “I’ll be in Washington tomorrow.”
According to one report, he was punched in the face:
— NBC29 (@NBC29) August 13, 2017
In an interview with Alex Jones on Sunday, Kessler said he intends to sue the city of Charlottesville for allowing the violence to take place.
Exit question: Where’s the outrage from politicians over this violence?
- Liberal Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas: Conservatives, NRA, Nazis ‘one and the same’
- Right on cue: Keith Olbermann explodes on Twitter, falsely calls Trump ‘apologist for Domestic Terrorism’
- Ivanka Trump condemns racism, neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, gets attacked by liberal SJWs