Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency on Saturday, after clashes between white nationalists and counter-protesters—including Black Lives Matter activists and anti-fascist groups known as ANTIFA—turned deadly in Charlottesville.
President Trump condemned the violence in an address from his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, urging Americans to “come together” and remember that “no matter our color, creed, religion or political party, we are all Americans first,” while Christian leaders like Russell Moore of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention did not mince words when speaking out against the so-called “alt-right.”
“The so-called Alt-Right white supremacist ideologies are anti-Christ and satanic to the core,” Moore tweeted on June 14. “We should say so.”
The so-called Alt-Right white supremacist ideologies are anti-Christ and satanic to the core. We should say so. #SBC17
— Russell Moore (@drmoore) June 14, 2017
While watching the events of the last two days unfold, Moore doubled down on his denunciation, calling the Friday night march a the University of Virginia, in which a crowd of predominantly young white men carried torches and raised Nazi-era salutes, “evil” and “satanic.”
I am grieved to the core to think that this is the United States of America I am watching on live television right now.
— Russell Moore (@drmoore) August 12, 2017
“I am grieved to the core to think this is the United States of America I am watching on live television right now,” he proceeded to tweet.
"Blood and soil" = the idolatry of the flesh fueled by the dark spirit of the age. The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against such.
— Russell Moore (@drmoore) August 12, 2017
“‘Blood and soil’ = the idolatry of the flesh fueled by the dark spirit of the age,” he continued. “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against such.”
The violence began on Friday night when fights broke out during the rally at the University of Virginia campus, and tensions flared again on Saturday morning when police cancelled a scheduled “Unite the Right” protest at Emancipation Park, where the planned removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee has caused controversy.
The New York Times reported that by lunchtime on Saturday the situation in Charlottesville had completely devolved:
But by 11 a.m., after both sides had made their way to Emancipation Park, the scene had exploded into taunting, shoving and outright brawling.
Barricades encircling the park and separating the two sides began to come down, and the police temporarily retreated. People were seen clubbing one another in the streets, and pepper spray filled the air. One of the white nationalists left the park bleeding, his head wrapped in gauze.
Declaring the gathering an unlawful assembly, the police had cleared the area before noon, and the Virginia National Guard arrived as officers began arresting some who remained. But fears lingered that the altercation would start again nearby, as demonstrators dispersed in smaller groups.
As the crowds dissipated, a car rammed into a group of bystanders, killing a 32-year-old woman and injuring dozens more. According to reports, counter-demonstrators were moving up Fourth Street celebrating the retreat of the white nationalists when a gray sports car accelerated toward them, mowing down several people, and hurling at least two in the air. The vehicle’s driver was in police custody as of late Saturday afternoon.
“It was probably the scariest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” reporter Robert Armengol told the New York Times. “After that it was pandemonium. The car hit reverse and sped and everybody who was up the street in my direction started running.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, peaceful gatherings commenced Saturday afternoon in honor of those killed and injured in the car crash. Additionally, it has been reported that two people were killed in a helicopter crash related to coverage of the demonstrations.
Ultimately, local, state, and national leaders are urging unity in the wake of the tragedy.
I am heartbroken that a life has been lost here. I urge all people of good will–go home.
— Mike Signer (@MikeSigner) August 12, 2017
“I am heartbroken that a life has been lost here,” Charlottesville Mayor Mike Singer tweeted. “I urge all people of good will—go home.”