Mayor, McMaster label Charlottesville violence ‘terrorism’

3 dead, dozens hurt, 4 arrested at white supremacist rally

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Both the mayor of Charlottesville and President Trump’s national security adviser labeled the violence at a white supremacy rally as terrorism.

The mayor

Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer called the killing of a 32-year-old woman and the injury of others by a vehicle at a rally in the city a “terrorist attack with a car used as a weapon.”

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

Three were killed and dozens were injured amid what is believed to be the largest group of white supremacists to come together in a decade to protest the city’s decision to remove a Confederate monument. A car rammed into a crowd of protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer, and a state police helicopter crashed into the woods, leaving two troopers onboard dead.

This photo provided by the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail shows James Alex Fields Jr., who was charged with second-degree murder and other counts after authorities say he rammed his car into a crowd of protesters Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Va., where a white supremacist rally took place. (Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail via AP)
James Alex Fields Jr. was charged with second-degree murder and other counts after authorities say he rammed his car into a crowd of protesters Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Va., where a white supremacist rally took place. (Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail via AP)

The car’s driver, James Alex Fields Jr. was charged with second-degree murder and other counts.

The rally’s purpose was to condemn a decision by the city to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Signer blamed the nation’s intensifying political divisions for the violent clashes between white supremacist groups and counterprotesters that left three dead and on Saturday bemoaned the “very sad and regrettable coarseness in our politics.”

President Donald Trump criticized the violence and called for a return to law and order. But his critics say his racially-tinged rhetoric has exacerbated the nation’s political tensions and emboldened racists.

The national security adviser

President Donald Trump’s national security adviser said the violence that broke out in Charlottesville, Virginia, “meets the definition of terrorism.”

H.R. McMaster tells ABC’s “This Week” that “anytime that you commit an attack against people to incite fear, it is terrorism.”

Heather Heyer, 32, died Saturday when a rammed into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville as tension boiled over at a white supremacist rally.

McMaster calls it “a criminal act against fellow Americans. A criminal act that may have been motivated — and we’ll see what’s turned up in this investigation — by this hatred and bigotry, which I mentioned we have to extinguish in our nation.”

These undated photo provided by the Virginia State Police show Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, left, of Quinton, Va., and Lt. H. Jay Cullen, of Midlothian, Va. The two were killed Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, when the helicopter they were piloting crashed while assisting public safety resources during clashes at a nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. (Virginia State Police via AP)
These undated photo provided by the Virginia State Police show Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, left, of Quinton, Va., and Lt. H. Jay Cullen, of Midlothian, Va. The two were killed Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, when the helicopter they were piloting crashed while assisting public safety resources during clashes at a nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. (Virginia State Police via AP)

Ivanka

Ivanka Trump says “there should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis,” as she reacts to the violent confrontations that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The president’s daughter also has tweeted Sunday morning — a day after the clashes — that “we must all come together as Americans — and be one country UNITED.”

President Trump didn’t call out white supremacists and neo-Nazis in his public comments on Saturday after the disturbances.

The governor

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe will visit two Charlottesville churches and speak to congregants following violent clashes in the city between white supremacist groups and counter-protesters that left three dead.

The governor’s office says in a release that Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam will join McAuliffe at both Sunday services.

McAuliffe and Northam are scheduled to visit Mount Zion First African Baptist Church and Visit First Baptist Church.

The suspect

The man accused of ramming a car into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville was photographed that morning holding a shield with the emblem of a white supremacist group.

Vanguard America denies that James Alex Fields Jr. is a member of its group and says it handed out shields to anyone in attendance who wanted them. The Anti-Defamation League says Vanguard America believes the U.S. is an exclusively white nation, and uses propaganda to recruit young white men online and on college campuses. Vanguard America confirmed via Twitter account that members were in Charlottesville on Saturday morning, part of what’s believed to be the largest group of white nationalists to come together in a decade, to rally against plans to remove a Confederate statue. Hundreds of others came to protest against the racism.

In the photo, taken by the New York Daily News , Fields stands with a handful of men, all dressed similarly in the usual Vanguard America uniform of khakis and white polo shirts. The men hold white shields with a black-and-white logo of two axes. The Confederate statue of Robert E. Lee is in the background. The Daily News says the photo was taken about 10:30 a.m. Charlottesville officials say the car crashed into the crowd, killing one, at 1:42 p.m.

Peaceful protesters were marching downtown, carrying signs that read “black lives matter” and “love.” A silver Dodge Challenger suddenly came barreling through “a sea of people” and smashed into another car, said Matt Korbon, a 22-year-old University of Virginia student.

The impact hurled people into the air and blew off their shoes. Heather Heyer, 32, was killed as she crossed the street.

“It was a wave of people flying at me,” said Sam Becker, 24, sitting in the emergency room to be treated for leg and hand injuries.

Those left standing scattered, screaming and running for safety. Video caught the car reversing, hitting more people, its windshield splintered from the collision and bumper dragging on the pavement. Medics carried the injured, bloodied and crying, away as a police tank rolled down the street.

Fields Jr., who recently moved to Ohio from where he grew up in Kentucky, was charged with second-degree murder and other counts. Field’s mother, Samantha Bloom, told The Associated Press on Saturday night that she knew her son was attending a rally in Virginia but didn’t know it was a white supremacist rally.

“I thought it had something to do with Trump. Trump’s not a white supremacist,” said Bloom, who became visibly upset as she learned of the injuries and deaths at the rally.

“He had an African-American friend so …,” she said before her voice trailed off. She added that she’d be surprised if her son’s views were that far right.