A peaceful crowd protesting against a white nationalist rally in the small Virginia college city of Charlottesville were slammed by a car on Saturday, resulting in the death of a women two hours after protests turned violent among the two groups in the United States.
A State Police helicopter crashed later on near the city while monitoring the situation, killing the two officers on board. Police say there is no indication of foul play, but the incident remains under investigation.
Conservative blogger Jason Kessler had called for what he identified as a “pro-white” rally against the city removing a statue of the late Confederate General Robert E Lee, seen as a figurehead of the south during the US Civil War.
Violence in the city brought an injured tally to over 30 individuals, nine of which were wounded by the car slamming into the peaceful crowd counter protesting white nationalists, those identifying as Nazis and alt-right political movement supporters.
US President Donald Trump responded multiple times throughout the day via Twitter, calling for the unification of all Americans against violence.
Mr Trump blamed “both sides” for the aggression largely attributed to the pro-white ethnicity protestors. He did not, however, identify attackers as white nationalists or denounce the far right, recieving criticism from both sides of the aisle and across the political spectrum.
“We’re closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia,” the president told media gathered in Bedminster as he takes a working vacation.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.”
A reporter inquired whether he had spoken out strongly enough against the alt right, a question Trump ignored.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz called for the US Justice Department to investigate the situation as “domestic terrorism” late on Saturday, a first domestic crisis for the Trump administration.
A Virginia State Police helicopter has reportedly crashed near Charlottesville while monitoring the clashes at the Unite the Right rally. It is unclear whether there are any deaths or injuries, but witnesses said fire and smoke rose from the tree line shortly after the helicopter went down. Reason for the crash is unknown.
Virginia State Police have confirmed two fatalities from the state police helicopter crash in Charlottesville. No one was injured on the ground. The cause of the crash is under investigation.