Violent Protests Break Out at White Nationalist Rally in VA - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Violent Protests Break Out at White Nationalist Rally in VA

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) -

Hundreds of people are facing off in Charlottesville ahead of a white nationalist rally planned in the Virginia city's downtown.

Rally supporters and counter-protesters screamed, chanted, threw punches, hurled water bottles and unleashed chemical sprays on each other Saturday morning (8/12).

Men dressed in militia uniforms were carrying shields and openly carrying long guns. Thousands of people are expected to pack the area.

There were also fights Friday night (8/11), when hundreds of white nationalists marched through the University of Virginia campus carrying torches. A university spokesman said one person was arrested and several people were injured.

Virginia's governor has declared a state of emergency in response to a white nationalist rally that is expected to draw up to 6,000 people.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe said via his Twitter account on Saturday morning (8/12) the declaration was made in order "to aid state response to violence" at the rally in Charlottesville, about 100 miles outside of Washington, D.C.

It's the latest confrontation in the city since it voted earlier this year to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a downtown park.

The city's manager also declared a local emergency and police ordered people to disperse from the area around the statue after several violent clashes broke out.

The NHL's Detroit Red Wings released a statement denouncing the use of their logo at the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and said they are considering legal action to stop it.

The team said it "vehemently" disagrees with and is not associated with the event. The Red Wings add they are "exploring every possible legal action as it pertains to the misuse of our logo in this disturbing demonstration."

A Michigan-based white nationalist group called the Detroit Right Wings uses the Red Wings' logo. The organization posted on its Twitter account that members had arrived in Charlottesville.

The organizer of a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville is encouraging attendees to leave town after authorities declared an unlawful assembly and police ordered people to disperse.

Right-wing blogger Jason Kessler organized Saturday's rally to protest the city's decision to remove a statue of confederate General Robert E. Lee.

Kessler told The Associated Press Saturday that he and other people who were going to speak at the event evacuated with security when police issued the order to disperse.

He said he wants rally attendees to leave town peacefully.

Richard Spencer is a prominent alt-right activist who was scheduled to speak. He said he's also encouraging people to go home.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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