Thursday, May 24, 2018
News Roundup

Armed militia, clergy, more unite against white nationalists (w/video)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Clergy in robes. A woman handing out flowers. Black Lives Matter activists. Armed militia members. Students. Angry anti-fascist protesters.

The diverse group of people who came to oppose a weekend gathering of white nationalists in this Virginia college town seemed to outnumber the rally-goers. The counter-protesting groups didn't organize collectively. Instead, it was a largely organic effort among groups who shared the same mission: showing that hate wasn't welcome.

"They just wanted to come out and say no. They wanted to come out and show a robust love for community and what America is meant to stand for," said Lisa Woolfork, a University of Virginia professor and 17-year Charlottesville resident. "And I find that very heartening, very encouraging."

Officials have not provided a crowd estimate, but there appeared to be at least 500 people supporting the rally sparked by Charlottesville's decision to remove a Confederate monument. At least twice as many appeared to be there to oppose them.

RELATED: Local vigils held in response to violence in Charlottesville

The violence between the groups erupted well before the event was supposed to start.

Neo-Nazis, skinheads, Ku Klux Klan members other white supremacists made their way to the park at the same time as counter-protesters, and the two sides clashed. People threw punches, screamed, set off smoke bombs, hurled water bottles and unleashed chemical sprays. Some came prepared for a fight, with body armor and helmets. Others darted around, trying to avoid the chaos.

"I've never seen that kind of hatred up front. It was pretty raw, pretty coarse," scholar and activist Cornel West, one of the most high-profile counter-protesters, told The Associated Press in an interview Sunday.

There were pockets of peaceful resistance, too. One woman quietly handed out flowers. A group stood in a circle, hands uplifted, singing hymns. One man toted a tuba.

RELATED: Hillsborough commission votes to move Tampa's Confederate monument to Brandon cemetery

Volunteer medics bobbed in and out of the fray, helping people who had been sprayed with chemicals, and others passed out water and snacks.

Walt Heinecke, another University of Virginia professor, obtained city permits for events in two nearby parks, and counter-protesters used the sites as a place of respite.

Heinecke said he was surprised to see members of an armed leftist group who stationed themselves nearby, providing protection for people there.

Meanwhile, many of the rally attendees stood behind barriers officials had put up, waiting for the event to get underway. But the speakers never got the chance.

As the chaos grew, authorities declared it an unlawful assembly and forced the crowd to disperse. The rally leaders, including organizer Jason Kessler — a local right-wing blogger and activist — urged supporters to go home.

Kessler blamed the violence on police, saying they didn't do enough to maintain order and protect his group's right to free speech.

About two hours later, pockets of counter-protesters who had been marching through town converged on a downtown street. Hundreds were streaming along, cheering, and waving flags.

"There was a real feeling like we had driven them out of the town," said Ross Mittiga, a UVA researcher who recently ran an unsuccessful campaign for the state House of Delegates.

That was quickly shattered when a car plowed into the crowd, hurling people into the air. Heather Heyer, 32, was killed and 19 others were injured. Just hours later, a state police helicopter that had been deployed as part of the response crashed in a field outside of town, killing two.

In blog posts after the violence, the Daily Stormer, a leading white nationalist website that promoted the Charlottesville event, pledged to hold more events "soon."

Opponents said they'd be ready.

"We have got to keep fighting, keep the love in it, keep sacrificing for justice," West said. "We have no choice at this point."

 

MORE ON CHARLOTTESVILLE:

 

RELATED: Man accused of ramming protesters had Nazi infatuation, teacher says

THE VICTIM: Friend says she was there 'standing up for what is right'

WHITE HOUSE: Trump's condemnation does include 'white supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazi and all extremist groups'

RESPONSE: Rubio, Buckhorn, Scott and other Florida leaders on Charlottesville and Trump's response

 

Comments
Rays journal: Could Sergio Romo be looking at pitching 3 straight games?

Rays journal: Could Sergio Romo be looking at pitching 3 straight games?

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays' pitching rotation for the weekend series against the Orioles could have a familiar look: Romo, Romo, Romo.Manager Kevin Cash said using veteran right-handed reliever Sergio Romo as the "opener" in all three upcoming g...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rookie’s error in 9th helps doom Rays against Red Sox

Rookie’s error in 9th helps doom Rays against Red Sox

ST. PETERSBURG — Willy Adames was so excited to be in the big leagues, even if was for just a three-day cameo callup. So thrilled to make a smashing debut with a homer on Tuesday. So proud to have his parents and sister fly in from the Dom...
Updated: 4 hours ago
‘This looks bleak.’ Game 7 loss short circuits Lightning fans

‘This looks bleak.’ Game 7 loss short circuits Lightning fans

TAMPA — Nick Genovese was anxious.The 21-year-old from Land O’Lakes had come to Thunder Alley outside Amalie Arena hoping to see the Tampa Bay Lightning triumph over the Washington Capitals in Wednesday night’s Eastern Conference winner-take-all Game...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Lightning’s season ends one win short of Stanley Cup final with 4-0 loss to Capitals

Lightning’s season ends one win short of Stanley Cup final with 4-0 loss to Capitals

TAMPA — The Lightning's dream season ended late Wednesday with the final horn, or, if you prefer, early in the second period of Game 5, when it scored its last goal of the Eastern Conference final.How about that? The team with the most regular-...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: Tampa Bay had its chances. Here are the best ones

Lightning-Capitals: Tampa Bay had its chances. Here are the best ones

TAMPA — Yanni Gourde said he will have to see a replay to know just how it got away, but even in a lopsided 4-0 loss like Wednesday night, he'll remember the puck in front of an empty net, and the missed opportunity that encapsulated a frustrat...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Red Sox game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Red Sox game

In a way, the timing of RHP Jake Faria's oblique injury seemed manageable in that RHP Nathan Eovaldi is close to coming off the disabled list and can step in. But on the other hand, the Rays finally could have four regular starters. Imagine that.Ther...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: A hurt that could last forever

Lightning-Capitals: A hurt that could last forever

TAMPA — This one stings. And it will ache for a long time. Maybe forever in these parts.Another chance for a Stanley Cup. Another disappointment. As the Lightning skated off the ice after losing Wednesday night's Game 7 of the Eastern Conferenc...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Woman hit, killed while crossing road in Tampa

TAMPA — A pedestrian was struck and killed by a vehicle while crossing N 40th Street near E Hanlon Street on Wednesday night, according to Tampa police.The crash took place just before 8 p.m. The driver was heading north on 40th Street before strikin...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Son tells NC police he found dog leash around neck of strangled Hillsborough developer Bill Bishop

Son tells NC police he found dog leash around neck of strangled Hillsborough developer Bill Bishop

After a prominent Hillsborough County developer died last month in North Carolina, word spread it was a heart attack that claimed his life.But records from that state show the death of William "Bill" Bishop was much more complicated.His 16-year-old s...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: Grading Tampa Bay’s 4-0 loss in Game 7

Lightning-Capitals: Grading Tampa Bay’s 4-0 loss in Game 7

TAMPA — Forget Vegas.The Lightning have left the building.No more season. No more watch parties. No more anything.There is no way around it. Jon Cooper's team couldn't finish, not in Game 7 at home, not in the Eastern Conference final...
Updated: 5 hours ago