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Man charged with murder following car ramming incident as violence erupts at white supremacist rally in Virginia

At least three people have been killed and dozens injured after violence erupted at a far right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
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At least three people have been killed and dozens injured after violence erupted at a far right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

One of those killed, a 32-year-old woman, died after a car ploughed into counter protesters as she was crossing the street.

The Telegraph saw injured people lying in the road moments after the silver saloon car  sped into the crowd.

Col. Martin Kumer, the superintendent of the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail, confirmed that an Ohio man, James Alex Fields Jr., 20, of Maumee, had been arrested and charged with second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and failing to stop at the scene of an accident that resulted in a death.

However the  authorities declined to say publicly that Mr. Fields was the driver of the car the plowed into the crowd

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

The death toll is understood  to include two Virginia State Police officers  who were killed when their helicopter crashed near Charlottesville.

They were later named as   Lt. H. Jay Cullen, 48, and Trooper Berke M.M. Bates, who would have turned 41 on Sunday.

James Alex Fields Jr., 20, is seen in a mugshot released by Charlottesville, Virginia police departmentCredit:Police handout/Reuters

Police said  19 people were injured in the car ramming incident and 15 in other violent incidents.

The Department of Justice and FBI have opened a civil rights investigation. In addition to Mr Fields, three other people have been arrested.

The arrests followed a day in which the quiet university town erupted in violence with armed neo-Nazis and white supremacists fighting police and counter-protestors.

Riot police used tear gas and armoured vehicles during what was described by civil rights groups as America's "largest hate gathering in decades".

The city's mayor Mike Signer said: "I am heartbroken that a life has been lost here. I urge all people of good will - go home.

A car hits protesters in Charlottesville.

"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."

A state of emergency was declared and hundreds of far-right protesters left the city's Emancipation Park as police used megaphones to declare their gathering an "unlawful assembly".

Right wing blogger Jason Kessler, who organised the event, and Richard Spencer, a prominent "alt-right" activist who was due to speak, were evacuated with security and encouraged followers to leave peacefully.

Clashes in Charlottesville during a protest against the removal of the Robert E. Lee monumentCredit: Anadolu Agency/ Anadolu

The extremists had descended on the quiet southern city of 47,000 people for a “Unite the Right” rally but the situation quickly turned violent when they were confronted by activists from the anti-fascist movement known as Antifa.

President Donald Trump denounced the violence, saying on Twitter: "We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!"

Speaking to reporters at his New Jersey golf course, Mr Trump condemned "this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides" which he called "very, very sad".

Charlottesville far-right protest

He said: "It's been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. It's been going on for a long, long time. It has no place in America.

"We want to get the situation straightened out in Charlottesville and we want to study it, and we want to see what we're doing wrong as a country where things like this can happen."

He added: "We have to respect each other. Ideally, we have to love each other. We have to heal the wounds of our country."

Mr Trump declined to answer shouted questions about white nationalists who had supported him.

Far-right activists wore Nazi symbols and shouted “blood and soil” - a slogan of the Third Reich - as they marched into the city while others carried flags of the Confederacy or imitation viking shields. Other militia members carried assault rifles and wore military-style body armour. 

A woman receives first-aid after a car accident ran into a crowd of protesters in CharlottesvilleCredit:AFP

The white supremacists exchanged blows with Left-wing demonstrators and in several cases people were hit with pepper spray. Police in riot gear were unable to calm the situation as the two sides fought in the streets.   

Early in the afternoon a car ploughed into anti-fascist counter-protesters marching downtown at the junction of 4th and Water Streets.

Arriving on the scene shortly afterwards, The Sunday Telegraph saw several people lying in the street injured, including a woman with a bloody head wound, and others screaming or running away. At least five were later placed in ambulances on stretchers, and others were treated for minor injuries.

Unidentified militia has arrived at #EmancipationPark ahead of the #Charlottesville rally with guns in tow. pic.twitter.com/zCLCBU78PF

— Craig Stanley (@_CraigStanley) August 12, 2017

Video taken by a demonstrator showed the silver sedan speeding into and hitting two other cars that were waiting for a the march to pass.

Those cars were shunted into the crowd, and the driver of the speeding vehicle then quickly reversed away and fled.

Witness Hunter Harman, 20, told The Telegraph: "I saw the car. We were marching and I heard a bang. Then I saw people flying though the air, then a bunch of injured people on the ground. I tried to help them.

.@Swerdlick on #Charlottesville: "At a minimum the President by now should have been able to come out with a tweet" https://t.co/jSrFFPHob6

— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) August 12, 2017

"He was going so fast, it was 100 per cent deliberate. He banged into the back of two other cars and moved them forward. They accidentally hit people too. Then I didn't see him reverse out."

Another witness said: "It was a grey Ford Challenger, it came speeding down the road where there were lots of people. One person got pinched between the Challenger and an armoured car and others got hit. It must have hit a few dozen people. There were people hurt. Then he reversed out at 40mph."

The Unite the Right rally was organised in protest at plans to remove a statue of Robert E Lee, a Confederate general during the Civil War.

Many southern states have begun removing such statues, saying that leaders who fought for slavery should not be revered in the 21st Century.  The demonstrators accuse local governments of trying to erase history by removing the statues and often chant "You will not replace us” as they rally around the statues.

We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2017

The city of Charlottesville had tried to get the protest moved to another park but the rally organisers sued and a judge ruled they must be allowed in Emancipation Park, where the Lee statue is. 

Shortly after 11am, an hour before the formal rally was due to begin, local authorities declared the state of emergency, saying there was an “imminent threat of civil disturbance, unrest, potential injury to persons, and destruction of property”. 

David Duke now here in #charlottesville for #altright #unitetheright rally @USATODAY @RbtKing pic.twitter.com/au69sTiTlR

— Mykal McEldowney (@mykalmphoto) August 12, 2017

Terry McAuliffe, the governor of Virginia, said: "The acts and rhetoric in Charlottesville over past 24 hours are unacceptable and must stop. A right to speech is not a right to violence."

He added: “Go home, you are not wanted in this great commonwealth,” he said. “You pretend to be patriots, you are anything but patriots.

“You came here to hurt people and they did hurt people. My message is clear, we are stronger than you.

“There is no place for you here, there is no place for you in America.”

In a statement before her husband condemned the violence First Lady Melania Trump said: "Our country encourages freedom of speech, but let's communicate without hate in our hearts. No good comes from violence.” 

But David Duke, a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, hailed the rally as a sign of Mr Trump’s success. “This represents a turning point for the people of this country.

"We are determined to take our country back. We’re going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump.”

After clashes with anti-fascist protesters and police the rally was declared an unlawful gathering and people were forced out of Lee ParkCredit:GETTY

As violence continued in Charlottesville there were ugly scenes in a car park as protesters confronted a white nationalist marcher.

In an extended stand-off the marcher shouted: "This is my country." A dozen nationalists in military fatigues, some heavily armed with AR -15s and carrying a confederate flag, stood nearby as protesters held signs saying "Nazis go home" and yelled at them to "put down the guns."

The views fueling the spectacle in Charlottesville are repugnant. Let it only serve to unite Americans against this kind of vile bigotry.

— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) August 12, 2017

At Emancipation Park a counter-protester with a bloody face said he had been attacked by a far-right demonstrator.

Caleb, 20, who asked not to give his second name, told the Telegraph: "I was trying to deny them entry to the park and the gentleman decided to hit me in the face with his flagpole."

Anti-fascist counter-protesters wait outside the 'Unite the Right' rallyCredit:Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Some Republican politicians took to the airwaves to distance themselves from the white supremacists.

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador also condemned the violence.

I know all to well the pain hate can cause. The American Spirit that binds us has no place for actions like this. #PrayersForCharlottesville

— Nikki Haley (@nikkihaley) August 12, 2017

House Speaker Paul Ryan said: "The views fueling the spectacle in Charlottesville are repugnant. Let it only serve to unite Americans against this kind of vile bigotry."

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate last year added: " We will not step backward. If this is not who we are as Americans, let's prove it."

A White Supremacist open carries a rifle during the clashes in VirginiaCredit:Anadolu Agency/Anadolu

Religious leaders of many faiths gathered at the edge of the extremist rally to sing spiritual songs and call for unity.

 Neo Nazis, Alt-Right, and White Supremacists encircle and chant at counter protestors at the base of a statue of Thomas JeffersonCredit:Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The chaos on Saturday followed a smaller rally on Friday night, which saw hundreds of mainly white men carrying burning torches marching through the grounds of the University of Virginia.

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