BREAKING: Virginia declares state of emergency over violent ‘Alt-Right’ protests

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Saturday issued a state of emergency after a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville turned violent. McAuliffe on Friday ordered the National Guard to stand by as activists descend upon Charlottesville to protest the removal of a Confederate statue honoring Gen. Robert E. Lee.

“It is now clear that public safety cannot be safeguarded without additional powers, and that the mostly out-of-state protesters have come to Virginia to endanger our citizens and property,” McAuliffe said in a statement issued on Saturday. “I am disgusted by the hatred, bigotry and violence these protesters have brought to our state over the past 24 hours. The actions I have taken are intended to assist local government and restore public safety.”

The state of emergency was issued shortly before the rally was set to begin at noon on Saturday when violence erupted between “alt-right demonstrators, counter-protesters, white nationalists and supporters of Black Lives Matter,” USA Today reported. 

Fighting started as both groups headed into Emancipation Park, where the status is located. One side had anti-fascist and Black Lives Matter signs while the other side had Confederate flags and iron cross banners.

People began using poles from flags and signs as weapons, USA Today reported.

The city attempted to pull right-wing blogger and local resident Jason Kessler’s permit for the “Unite the Right” rally. City officials wanted him to move his protest to another park.

Late Friday night, U.S. District Judge Glen Conrad issued an injunction against the city, saying they wanted his protest moved “based on the content of his speech.”

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.