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Charlottesville mayor: Killing of woman was 'terrorist attack with a car used as a weapon'

There were widespread scenes of violence yesterday in the Virgina city as white supremacist and nationalist demonstrations clashed with counter-protesters.

A vehicle plows into a group of protesters marching along 4th Street NE at the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville on the day of the Unite the Right rally.
A vehicle plows into a group of protesters marching along 4th Street NE at the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville on the day of the Unite the Right rally.
Image: Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress

THE MAYOR OF Charlottesville has called the killing of a woman and the injury of others during a white nationalist march yesterday “a terrorist attack”.

There were widespread scenes of violence yesterday in the Virgina city as white supremacist and nationalist demonstrations clashed with counter-protesters.

The violence came to a head when a car plowed into a group of counter-demonstrators, killing one and injuring 19 others.

Activist Heather Heyer died in the incident. The car’s driver, James Alex Fields Jr., was charged with second-degree murder and other counts.

Speaking today, Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer labelled the incident a “terrorist attack with a car used as a weapon”.

He made the comments in an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press.

Earlier, US President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka weighed in on the violence with an appeal for unity, saying there was “no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis”.

“There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis,” she said.

We must all come together as Americans — and be one country UNITED. #Charlottesville

President Trump, who has a following among white supremacist groups attracted to his nationalistic rhetoric, has come under fire for blaming the Charlottesville violence on hatred and bigotry “on many sides”.

Senator Ted Cruz, who lost a campaign to become the Republican presidential nominee, has called for the Justice Department to investigate and prosecute the incident as an “act of domestic terrorism”.

Investigation 

US federal investigators said that they have opened a civil rights investigation into the circumstances that led to the driver to plow a car into the crowd.

Car Hits Protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia A group of anti-white supremacist protesters were injured by the car slamming in to them. Source: Go Nakamura via ZUMA Wire

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the top law enforcement official in the country, said “the violence and deaths in Charlottesville strike at the heart of American law and justice”.

Sessions said he had spoken with FBI Director Chris Wray, along with FBI agents on the scene and law enforcement officials from Virginia, the state home to Charlottesville.

“The Richmond FBI Field Office, the Civil Rights Division and the US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia have opened a civil rights investigation into the circumstances of the deadly vehicular incident that occurred earlier Saturday morning,” they said in a statement.

Part of what made the case become a federal one was that the chief suspect, James Alex Fields, Jr., crossed state lines, traveling from Ohio to Virginia.

Hundreds had descended on Charlottesville either to march in or rail against a “Unite the Right Rally.” Unrest quickly flared even as riot police and national guard troops flooded the city’s downtown.

© – AFP 2017 With AP and Cormac Fitzgerald

Read: Trump condemns hate on ‘many sides’ after woman killed by car at anti-Nazi protest

Read: One killed and 19 injured after vehicle hits counter-demonstrators at white supremacist rally in Virginia

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