CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Protesters wielding sticks and cans of pepper spray clashed during a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Saturday morning.
White nationalists and other right-wing groups fought fist to fist with counter-protesters who call themselves antifa, the opposition to fascist ideologies, groups and individuals.
“No Nazis, no KKK, no facists, USA,” chanted hundreds while a group of men and women wearing black carrying Confederate flags walked into Emancipation Park.
Protesters filled East Market Street hours before the scheduled noon rally often throwing bottles and sticks at each other. Many were toting shields and wearing body armor.
“I’m here to support white interest,” yelled one man wearing a helmet.
“I’m pro southern,” shouted another who was then stopped by a friend just pepper sprayed in the eyes.
Several journalists were also treated by medics after they were pepper sprayed. Charlottesville officials said 15 injuries were reported related to the rally downtown.
“It’s definitely a show and arrange of many emotions,” said Tobias Wolf, who was carrying a sign that read “It’s all love. Positive vibes.”
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency “to aid state response to violence” around 11 a.m. and the National Guard was activated to help remove the clashing protesters from Emancipation Park and the streets.
The alt-right protesters then moved to McIntire Park about two miles away to regroup and hear from their leaders.
“This is the first step in taking America back,” Ex-KKK leader David Duke shouted to a group of about 100. “We are not going to sit down and take it any longer.”