A man has been charged with murder after violent clashes at a white supremacist rally in the US state of Virginia which is now the subject of a federal investigation.
The FBI ordered a civil rights investigation and the state governor declared a state of emergency following the violence.
20-year-old James Alex Fields from Ohio is alleged to have driven his car into a large crowd of anti-fascist demonstrators, injuring over a dozen and killing a 32-year-old woman.
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe had earlier halted the white nationalist rally amid the unrest in the college town, where rival groups fought pitched battles after extreme-right protesters converged to demonstrate against a plan to remove a statue of the Confederate army leader in the American Civil War.
The suspect’s mother told the local Toledo Blade newspaper of her surprise at her son’s alleged involvement.
“I just knew he was going to a rally. I mean, I try to stay out of his political views,” she said. “I didn’t know it was white supremacist. I thought it had something to do with Trump. Trump’s not a supremacist.”
However, residents of the small liberal city were less surprised at the violence, as they experienced an influx of neo-Nazis for the third time in a few months.
Many people witnessed the fatal attack on counter-protesters, which sent some flying into the air.
“The car hit some people and then it backed up so that it could gain momentum, so it could go faster, and it just smashed into dozens of people. There was at least a dozen people that were directly hit by the car,” said a man called Nick, who didn’t give his last name.
A day of violence ended with more deaths: two policemen were killed in a helicopter crash nearby after helping in efforts to quell the clashes.
President Trump – long accused of stoking divisions and encouraging the so-called alt-right with his rhetoric – has again been criticised after his condemnation of the violence failed to single out the white nationalists.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides”, the president said at a news briefing, deliberately repeating the last phrase.
Trump made no reply when a reporter shouted a question asking whether he had spoken out strongly enough against white nationalists.
Prominent Democrats, civil rights activists and some Republicans said the president’s failure to single out white supremacy was inexcusable.
Mr. President – we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism. https://t.co/PaPNiPPAoW— Cory Gardner (@SenCoryGardner) August 12, 2017
“Mr. President – we must call evil by its name,” Republican US Senator Cory Gardner wrote on Twitter. “These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism.”
A succession of tweets from the president also failed to mention the far-right.
Condolences to the family of the young woman killed today, and best regards to all of those injured, in Charlottesville, Virginia. So sad!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2017
Deepest condolences to the families & fellow officers of the VA State Police who died today. You’re all among the best this nation produces.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2017
Three more men were arrested, Virginia State Police said late on Saturday night. Two were charged with public order offences while a third was being held for carrying a concealed weapon.