CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (Reuters) - White nationalists clashed with counter-demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday ahead of a rally to protest the planned removal of a Confederate general's statue that critics say glorifies the era of slavery.
Fighting broke out in the city's downtown before noon when hundreds of people, some wearing white nationalist symbols and carrying Confederate battle flags, were confronted by a nearly equal number of counter-protesters. The clashes began the previous evening, resulting in at least one arrest.
Soon after the melee erupted, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency in the city, home of the University of Virginia's flagship campus. The gathering was declared an "unlawful assembly," allowing police to disperse the protesters.
Many of the combatants on both sides wore helmets and held shields, and some brandished wooden poles. Militia members in the city openly carried rifles, although no gunfire was reported.