Virginia’s governor Terry McAuliffe has declared a state of emergency after violent clashes erupted between “Unite the Right,” who were in Charlottesville to protest the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue, and counter-protesters.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

The governor of Virginia declared a state of emergency Saturday after violent clashes between white nationalists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville.

Police ordered crowds to disperse as chaotic and violent scenes erupted around the city. Groups clashed in fist fights, with batons and threw newspaper boxes at each other. Some carried sticks and shields, and wore helmets.

The planned demonstration by a white supremacist group was protesting the removal of a statute of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville.

. . . . Police declared an unlawful assembly in the city. and Gov. Terry McAuliffe decried the violence. “The acts and rhetoric in #Charlottesville over past 24 hours are unacceptable & must stop,” the governor tweeted. “A right to speech is not a right to violence.”

The rally, scheduled to begin at noon, was cancelled this morning.

The Wall Street Journal continues:

Jason Kessler, the leader of a white supremacist group and organizer of the demonstration, said the rally was cancelled around 11:30 a.m. when the Charlottesville Police “declared an unlawful assembly and forced us to leave.”

“Our speakers, including Richard Spencer, were Maced by protesters on the way into the park and the police did nothing to stop them,” said Mr. Kessler, 33-years-old and the president of “Unity and Security for America.”

He had dubbed the demonstration “Unite the Right” and has been working with the American Civil Liberties Union to gain access to the park.

. . . .  Men dressed in militia uniforms were carrying shields and openly carrying long guns, the Associated Press reported.

Officials had been preparing for the rally for months. Police instituted road closures around downtown, and many businesses in the popular open-air shopping mall opted to close for the day.

Both local hospitals said they had taken precautions to prepare for an influx of patients and had extra staff on call.

ABC News has more details:

The state of Virginia shortly after declared the gathering unlawful and ordered both rallygoers and counterprotesters to “disperse immediately.”

The Virginia State Police posted videos on Facebook of officers breaking up the Unite the Right gathering and counterprotest . . .

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.” Another video shows some of the crowd.

You can view the Virginia State Police’s Facebook page here.

The counter-protesters were organized; Cornel West spoke at last night’s counter-protest prayer service.

ABC News continues:

A mass prayer service was held at St. Paul’s Memorial Church on University Avenue that was organized in response to the rally, according to The Daily Progress, a local paper.

Dr. Cornel West, a prominent leftist philosopher and political activist, spoke at the prayer service, calling the “Unite the Right” rally the “biggest gathering of a hate-driven right wing in the history of this country in the last 30 to 35 years,” the Daily Progress reported.

So far, one person has been arrested and several have been injured.  A car also plowed into a group of protesters on the street, but Fox News is now reporting that it’s not clear at this time that the driver was not trying to get away from the crowd that was throwing “projectiles.”

Fox News reports:

Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller told Fox News that three vehicles had collided and multiple injuries, ranging from life-threatening to minor, had been reported. Geller added that the car seen backing away with a smashed hood in the above video had been located.

No arrests had been reported in connection with the incident and authorities said they had not determined whether the crash was intentional.

. . . . As of early afternoon, a single arrest has been reported. Local reports said a car has rammed into a group of counter-protesters, injuring an unknown amount of people. An Associated Press reporter said they witnessed at least one person on the ground receiving medical treatment.

. . . . The Virginia State Police tweeted that officers had made arrests following the unlawful assembly declaration. The Virginia National Guard has also been deployed.

Local police estimated that at least 6,000 people are in attendance. Among those expected to attend are Confederate heritage groups, KKK members, militia groups and “alt-right” activists, who generally espouse a mix of racism, white nationalism and populism.

Watch the report:

Charlottesville’s mayor was quick to blame President Trump for the planned protest.

Fox News continues:

Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer said he was disappointed that the white nationalists had come to his town and blamed President Donald Trump for inflaming racial prejudices with his campaign last year.

“I’m not going to make any bones about it. I place the blame for a lot of what you’re seeing in American today right at the doorstep of the White House and the people around the president.”

President Trump and Vice President Pence have both tweeted their condemnation of the violence that has taken place in Virginia.