Charlotte honors victims of Charlottesville violence with vigil

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Their signs told a story.

They read: “Never again,” “Teach peace,” “Love will always trump hate.”

Several hundred people packed Marshall Park in Charlotte in a vigil for this weekend’s violence in Charlottesville, Va.

[IMAGES: Charlotte honors victims of Charlottesville violence]

Sunday’s vigil came one day after violent clashes between white supremacists and protesters.

Three people were killed.

 

 

“I knew what we had to do. We had to rally against hate,” said Scott Huffman, founder of “Indivisible Charlotte.”

Violence erupted between counter-protesters and white nationalists protesting the removal of a Confederate monument in Charlottesville.


“I wish it was a shock, but for me it's so upsetting to see that it is still happening today,” Katie Clark said.

Virginia state police said one of their agency’s helicopters crashed Saturday outside Charlottesville, killing two troopers.

 

 

Police said the helicopter was assisting law enforcement officers monitor the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.


Police said Lt. H. Jay Cullen of Midlothian and Trooper-Pilot Burke M.M. Bates of Quinton were killed in the crash.

The crash happened just a few hours after a car plowed into a crowd of people peacefully protesting against the white nationalist rally. One person was killed and at least two dozen were hurt.

Heather Heyer, 32, has been identified by authorities as the woman who was killed.

“A person was killed and somehow it's still being said that there's blame to be placed on both sides,” Brittany Lee said.

NBC News reported that Heyer worked at a Ruckersville, Va. law firm. She was killed as she crossed the street with other counterprotesters.

“She was there with her friends and she was trying to simply cross the street as the movement was breaking up that day and she was plowed down by a young man who was intent on spreading hate and thought hate would fix the world, and hate does not fix the world,” Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, said.

 

 

People of Charlotte responded with light, after light, after light.

Among the crowd was Charlotte mayor Jennifer Roberts.

“I thought it was important to be here with people who care deeply about connecting, collaborating and not dividing,” Roberts said.

Ohio resident James Alex Fields Jr., 20, was taken into custody by police shortly after videos showed a silver Dodge Challenger registered under his name speeding toward a crowd, hitting people and cars in front of it, and then backing out of the street.

Hickory and Concord also had vigils.

“We have to lead by example, whether it's on a local level or a national level, we have to lead by example,” said Rev. Amantha Barbee.

 

 

Channel 9 reporter Joe Bruno traveled to Charlottesville to cover the protests.

Bruno spoke to 20-year-old Deandre Harris who said he is lucky to be alive after he was nearly beaten to death in a parking garage.

Harris said he received a concussion, eight staples to the head, a broken wrist and bruises from the attack, but plans on continuing his protest.

“They were just beating me with poles, sticks and kicking me and hitting me and telling me to die,” Harris said. “I'm glad God gave me the grace to be able to share my story with ya’ll.” 

 

 

A small group of protesters were outside the Freedom of Speech wall with a megaphone on Sunday calling for change.

Others were holding hands in silence circling a memorial for Heyer. Flowers and candles were placed on 4th Street NE where Heyer was struck and killed.

Fields is being held on suspicion of second-degree murder, malicious wounding and failure to stop in an accident that resulted in death, according to CNN.

“I told him to be careful,” his mother, Samantha Bloom, told the Toledo Blade. “(And) if they’re going to rally to make sure he’s doing it peacefully.”

Bloom recalled that her son told her he was on his way to an “alt-right” rally in Virginia.

“I thought it had something to do with Trump,” she admitted, saying that she tries to stay out of her son’s political views.

“If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention” is one of the last posts that can be seen on Heyer's Facebook page.

“I always encouraged her to be strong and strong-minded, even though that wasn’t always easy to raise, but I was always proud of what she was doing,” Bro told NBC News. “She was a fun-loving person and tenderhearted person, but at times she could be tough as nails too.” 

 

 

Vice President Mike Pence responds to violence

Vice President Mike Pence is responding to the violence during a march by white supremacists saying "these dangerous fringe groups" have no place in American public life.

Pence was asked about the violent clashes this weekend in the Virginia college town as he spoke Sunday during a news conference in Cartagena, Colombia.

Both Republicans and Democrats have criticized President Donald Trump's initial remarks about the violence in Charlottesville. Trump did not single out any group but blamed "many sides" for the violence.

On Sunday, Pence said, "We have no tolerance for hate and violence, white supremacists or neo-Nazis or the KKK."

Following his remarks about such fringe groups, Pence added, "We condemn them in the strongest possible terms."

A rally in Emancipation Park in Virginia around the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee ended before it began, as authorities shut the event down due to violence.

The Virginia State Police declared an unlawful assembly and ordered the crowd to disperse about a half-hour before the protest was to begin.

After rally attendees and protesters dispersed, a car rammed into a group of people Saturday afternoon. 

 

 

Read the original report below:

Supporters and protesters were seen gathering Saturday morning at the rally site.

The Southern Poverty Law Center said the event could be “the largest hate-gathering of its kind in decades in the United States.”

Alt-right activists marched in a torch-lit rally late Friday through the University of Virginia campus and clashed with rival protesters, CNN reported.

Channel 9 spoke to a Charlotte photographer who went to Charlottesville to document the rally.

Alvin Jacobs Jr. said it was complete chaos and extremely violent.

He said what he witnessed was unlike anything he's seen before.

(Local photographer captured violence in Charlottesville)

"People were walking around with assault rifles, you know handguns of course, knives, sticks, bats. I'm talking, walking up and down the street,” Jacobs said. There were people everywhere. Right, left, you were surrounded before you knew it and there wasn't any particular way that you could tell who was who.”

Jacobs, who considers himself an image activist, has captured photos at Ferguson, Baltimore and Chicago.

Jacobs said Saturday was different.

I saw more than I've seen ever,” Jacobs said.This was a concentrated effort of hate.

 

Jacobs said he was inspired by those helping others and the people fighting back.

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Local groups, including the Islamic Society of Greater Charlotte, reacted to the violence.

“The basic concern is violence is violence,” said Muhammad Afzal Cheema, President of the Islamic Society of Greater Charlotte. “If it's against a group, or against certain people, that's not acceptable to us. It shouldn't be acceptable to anybody. This is really, really, really dark day in America.” 

Protesters chanted “blood and soil” and “one people, one nation, end immigration” as they rallied around a statue of Thomas Jefferson, WWBT reported.

The march occurred several hours before a Saturday rally in Emancipation Park around the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Police believe the rally could attract up to 6,000 people, CNN reported. The Southern Poverty Law Center said the event could be “the largest hate-gathering of its kind in decades in the United States.”

Police broke up Friday’s march, calling it “unlawful assembly.” University officials condemned the gathering. Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer said in a statement that the rally was “a cowardly parade of hatred, bigotry, racism, and intolerance” that passed by the statue Jefferson, who founded the university in 1819.

 

 

“Everyone has a right under the First Amendment to express their opinion peaceably, so here's mine: not only as the Mayor of Charlottesville, but as a UVA faculty member and alumnus, I am beyond disgusted by this unsanctioned and despicable display of visual intimidation on a college campus," Signer said.

University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan said she “strongly” condemned the clashes.

"Law enforcement continues to investigate the incident, and it is my hope that any individuals responsible for criminal acts are held accountable,” she said in a statement.