CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia (CBS/AP) – Massachusetts politicians are among those condemning the actions at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Hundreds of people chanted, threw punches, hurled water bottles and unleashed chemical sprays on each other Saturday morning in Charlottesville.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency and police dressed in riot gear ordered people to disperse after chaotic violent clashes between white nationalists and counter protesters.
Right-wing blogger Jason Kessler had called for what he termed a “pro-white” rally to protest the city of Charlottesville’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from a downtown park.
Massachusetts senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey condemned the actions that took place at Saturday’s rally.
Rep. Jim McGovern said “no voice can be silent today.”
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump both tweeted about the violent events, as did Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.
Between rally attendees and counter-protesters, authorities were expecting as many as 6,000 people, Charlottesville police said this week.
Police instituted road closures around downtown, and many businesses in the popular open-air shopping mall opted to close for the day.
Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer said he was disgusted that the white nationalists had come to his town and blamed President Donald Trump for inflaming racial prejudices with his campaign last year.
“I’m not going to make any bones about it. I place the blame for a lot of what you’re seeing in American today right at the doorstep of the White House and the people around the president.”
Charlottesville, nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, is a liberal-leaning city that’s home to the flagship University of Virginia and Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson.
The Confederate General Robert E. Lee statue’s removal is part of a broader city effort to change the way Charlottesville’s history of race is told in public spaces.
The city has also renamed Lee Park, where the statue stands, and Jackson Park, named for Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. They’re now called Emancipation Park and Justice Park, respectively.
For now, the Lee statue remains. A group called the Monument Fund filed a lawsuit arguing that removing the statue would violate a state law governing war memorials. A judge has agreed to a temporary injunction that blocks the city from removing the statue for six months.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)