Police face criticism following eruptions of violence in Charlottesville

Protesters from both sides of Saturday’s conflict in Charlottesville, Virginia, have criticized the efforts of police to reign in the violence that took place prior to and during a large gathering of white nationalists in the college town.

The violence, which started on Friday night and then intensified on Saturday, killed Heather Heyer, 32, an activist who was marching against the white nationalists who descended on Charlottesville this weekend.

James Alex Fields Jr., 21, drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, according to authorities, killing Heyer and injuring others — and spawning a wave of protest rallies in response.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, which tweeted that counter-protesters were not happy with the police, also reported police saying that they would “not intervene until given command to do so.”

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
White nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the “alt-right” clash with police as they are forced out of Lee Park after the Unite the Right rally was declared an unlawful gathering, Aug. 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Va.

Richard Spencer, the leader of the white supremacist organization National Policy Institute and an organizer for the cause of white nationalists who attended Saturday’s rally, is blaming the police for Saturday’s violence, tweeting that the “Charlottesville and Virginia police have blood on their hands.”

“They policed the peaceful, and they exacerbated a mêlée,” Spencer wrote. “Total outrage.”

Shaban Athuman/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP
A police officer stands in the middle of the street after declaring the protest an unlawful assembly during a white nationalist rally, Aug. 12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Va.

Jason Kessler, a white…

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