Protesters clash in Virginia city on eve of white nationalist rally

David Duke, former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, has slammed U.S. President Donald Trump for decrying violent clashes between white nationalists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Va., claiming that the so-called "Unite the Right" rally represents Trump's own supporters' vision for the United States. "I am heartbroken that a life has been lost here".

Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer released a statement denouncing the march, writing, "When I think of torches, I want to think of the Statue of Liberty".

Last night, Virginia's governor urged people to stay away from the planned rally. "It was very clearly intentional".

State police had said pedestrians were struck Saturday in a three-vehicle crash.

Ahead of a planned demonstration by far-right protesters, a group of torch-toting white nationalists and white supremacists was broken up by police late Friday night on the University of Virginia campus.

One video shows an officer in announcing to milling crowds: "This gathering has been declared as to be an unlawful assembly; in the name of the Commonwealth, you are commanded to immediately disperse; if you do not disperse immediately you will be arrested".

Earlier this year city councillors voted to remove the statue and rename the park, which used to be called Lee Park, as part of a wider move across the region to tackle the history of the Confederacy, who fought to maintain slavery in the South. "As long as that expression is peaceful, that is their right".

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency earlier on Saturday, as clashes between white nationalists and counter-protesters continued to escalate.

First lady Melania Trump tweeted "let's communicate w/o hate in our hearts".

Despite mentioning several things he said were going in the right direction, like unemployment and job creation, Trump said it's important to find out why violence continues to occur.

Demonstrators held lit torches - which some observers described as a reference to the Ku Klux Klan - and chanted "blood and soil" and "one people, one nation, end immigration", local media reported. However, the alt-right blogger objected to the decision in a federal court saying it was a violation of free speech.

In a report from the New York Times, city officials have denied the request of the event's organizer, Jason Kessler, to hold the rally at Charlottesville's Emancipation Park, where a statue of Robert E. Lee stands.

Amongst the thousands expected to attend the rally are large groups of protesters.

Kessler then sued the city and got representation from the ACLU of Virginia and the Rutherford Institute, which say the city's decision raises numerous First Amendment concerns.

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