A number of articles in the last two weeks raise important questions about the role of the police/government, in generating the Charlottesville tragedy. In presenting some of them below, I’m keeping my tone as neutral as I can.
Aug. 25 from the New York Times, “As White Nationalist in Charlottesville Fired, Police ‘Never Moved’”.
As demonstrators clashed near a downtown park here two weeks ago, a white nationalist protester in a bulletproof vest turned, pointed a pistol toward the crowd and fired a single shot at the ground, in the direction of a black man wielding an improvised torch.
To make his escape, a video recording shows, the armed protester strolled past a line of about a dozen state police troopers who were safely positioned about 10 feet away behind two metal barricades. None of them budged.
“We all heard it and ran — I know damn well they heard it,” said Rosia Parker, a community activist in Charlottesville. “They never moved.”
And so on. They got the shooter later, yay! But why only later? What were the police doing, on-scene? Nothing.
Note: That does not necessarily mean the police were wrong; it could be, rather, that a higher authority gave them bad orders. You will see this become a theme. As NYT puts it, “So stark was the police failure to intervene, many participants in the protest and counterprotests believe it was by design.”
Next, the finger-pointing between local police, Virginia state police, and various politicians (including Gov. Terry McAuliffe – D). From the above NYT article:
The city did not use a number of security measures recommended by the state police, said Brian Moran, Virginia’s secretary of public safety and homeland security, including a ban on weapons and sticks of all kinds. The state also proposed designating parking areas, busing protesters and cutting off traffic for at least 10 blocks. None of that happened, he said…
The organizers of the rally said the [local] police had unilaterally changed details that they spent weeks negotiating, such as how they would safely enter and exit the park. “They didn’t follow through on any part of their plan,” said one of the coordinators…“They threw the whole thing away without telling us.” The changes involved every aspect of logistics, he said, including where counterprotesters would be, which streets would be blocked and how V.I.P.s would enter.
More from Breitbart:
- Aug 16, an article about how McAuliffe claimed a threat from right-wingers’ weapons caches around the city, only to be contradicted by State police who say no such caches ever existed. (If such caches had existed, perhaps they could justify McAuliffe’s order that shut down the Charlottesville protest in an early, confusing and unlawful way.)
- Aug 26, an article about bickering among Charlottesville politicians over who is to blame for the city’s confusing mistakes.
From The Washington Free Beacon on Aug. 14, more on the finger-pointing between the Virginia State Police and Gov. McAuliffe:
The Virginia State Police were prepared for the protests-turned-riots in Charlottesville, Va…despite what Governor Terry McAuliffe (D.) has said…
“No, the State Police did not have inferior equipment,” Corinne Geller, Virginia State Police public relations manager, told the Free Beacon. “Our personnel are equipped, and were equipped, with the necessary protective and tactical gear for their safety and, obviously, to protect those that were in attendance of the event…There were no shots fired at the event or anything of that nature but our folks had the proper gear and tactical equipment they needed…”
[Whereas] McAuliffe told the New York Times the protesters had better equipment than the State Police, and that accounted for part of the reason police took what critics have decried as a hands-off approach to the violence.
“It’s easy to criticize, but I can tell you this, 80 percent of the people here had semiautomatic weapons,” McAuliffe told the paper. “You saw the militia walking down the street, you would have thought they were an army. I was just talking to the State Police upstairs; they had better equipment than our State Police had…”
The McAuliffe quote has since been edited and rephrased by the Times in the hours since the piece was originally published…
The State Police defended their efforts to police the event and said they were actively involved in breaking up violent encounters.
“There were physical barriers in place for folks to be able to use for their safety. We cannot tell people where to assemble, there’s freedom of assembly…There were some bottlenecks, as you can imagine, that did occur.”
Geller said the large police presence may have added to the impression for some that police were simply letting protesters clash…
Accounts from reporters on the ground in Charlottesville on Saturday also mentioned the strong police presence and quickly dissipating violent clashes, as well as violent clashes where police did not intervene…
McAuliffe seems concerned to deflect blame away from himself, by hyping the alleged threat of right-wing weaponry.
Last – and perhaps least, because it could be as self-interested or biased an account as any – The Daily Caller had an account from a racist participant, Pax Dickinson. It’s long. The short version is that, on somebody’s orders (we don’t know whose), the police deliberately pushed the protestors and counter-protestors together – deliberately creating a clash.
[several paragraphs describing the Charlottesville rally’s layout]
Shortly after all rally attendees were present in the park, word began to spread that a State of Emergency had been declared, presumably by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. At my position in Pen 2, people were confused by this. It seemed unnecessary and preemptive since the rally seemed fairly well under control at this point. It was about 11:30 a.m., and the rally was not scheduled to start until noon.
After some minutes of confusion and rumors, Virginia State Police got on a loudspeaker and announced that we had been declared an unlawful assembly. We were instructed to leave the park, and told that anyone refusing to do so would be arrested.
Attendees began attempting to leave via exits 1 & 2 and were set upon by antifa as they attempted to do so…
We retreated through the western barricade but police on 1st St. would not let us onto the street forced us to retreat south. We’re pushed through the barricade at the south end of 1st St. and onto Market St., which was lined on both sides with mobs of screaming antifa with no police presence whatsoever.
We ran west on Market St, running a gauntlet of antifa throwing bottles, sticks, and rocks…[resulting in] multiple heavily bleeding scalp wounds…
From there the bulk of the rally attendees were able to march north and eventually reached the relative safety of MacIntyre Park, about two miles away, but many had been scattered throughout the city by the chaos of the dispersal.
At that point the police had completely lost control of the city. The State of Emergency order meant that any public gathering was de facto illegal, but antifa were still allowed to roam freely bearing weapons and attacking people…
My conclusions are that police wanted this to happen. It’s clear that VSP had specific orders to drive us out of the park to the south, into the teeth of violent armed antifa counter-protesters.
Police could have easily separated the barricades and removed all rally participants to the north, away from antifa and into empty streets fully controlled by law enforcement. We were driven into a hostile situation intentionally. It’s impossible not to believe that the authorities issuing these orders knew exactly what would happen and that they wanted rally attendees to be harmed and possibly killed.
There was an assumption that police would allow a retreat to the north in the event of a rally cancellation, no one imagined the police would choose to facilitate a clearly violent situation and force the two sides into uncontrolled contact. This looks like it was done with the intent to deny civil rights of a legal protest, in direct defiance of a federal court order. We were set up and trapped, then pushed into a kill zone full of hostile armed enemies. Every injury at this event was due to to the nonsensical withdrawal order of the police.
National Guard (or possibly feds? It’s unclear) had a viewing post atop the funeral home at the corner of 1st and Market, equipped with several cameras. That video will corroborate my story if released…
The opposing sides could have been kept apart very easily, but police chose not to keep the sides apart.
Governor Terry McAuliffe and the Virginia State Police have blood on their hands, and they must be held to account for that.