- The police force, which should have kept the protesting parties separate, in fact funneled the right-wing protesters, the people defending the monument, right into Antifa
- The police seemed almost to misdirect people, sending them to the wrong side of the park so they would have to go through the crowd [of leftists
- “What was weird was that the police started forming a shield wall moving on to us, forcing us out onto this narrow staircase where we were right in front of Antifa,”
- Jason Kessler, the organizer of the Unite the Right event : “Charlottesville violated the federal court’s order by shutting down the rally at Lee Park after left-wing agitators began throwing bricks at us. Our right to free speech was violated when the police officers acquiesced to the unconstitutional ‘heckler’s veto’ raised by our detractors.”
- “The moment the police told us [the assembly was unlawful], as law-abiding citizens or visitors to the United States, we immediately left”
- As soon as we were kicked out … by the time we had heard of the car crash, we were all already miles away,”
One man, who was vacationing in the United States from Finland, arrived with one of the last waves to get into Emancipation Park before the event was shut down. From his perspective, “these two groups of very polarly opposed political and social and moral views were forced into conflict” by policing tactics. He recounted his experience to Breitbart News:
I was expecting to enter a peaceful protest to protect this monument and part of United States history from utter and total rewriting. I entered with people from the United States who were aware there were going to be counter-protesters. They promised to keep me safe, which they did. But what happened was,the police force, which should have kept the protesting parties separate, in fact funneled the right-wing protesters, the people defending the monument, right into Antifa, [making them run] a gauntlet of Antifa to the monument … Then – I don’t know the details of it – on dubious legal grounds, [the police] declared the gathering of right-wing protesters unlawful. We were forced to leave the venue and run another gauntlet.
Similar accounts were given by two self-described Alt-Right activists in their mid-20s who came from the Midwest for the rally. Unlike the Finnish man above, the pair were with one of the first waves to get to Emancipation Park. They asked to be identified by the pseudonyms “George” and “Sean.”
“We’re seeing [projectiles] being thrown back and forth. The police seemed almost to misdirect people, sending them to the wrong side of the park so they would have to go through the crowd [of leftists],” George told Breitbart News, describing the progression into chaos.
The pair claimed that their pleas to police that Unite the Right participants, especially the featured speakers, were gravely endangered by running the “gauntlet” fell on deaf ears. “What was weird was that the police started forming a shield wall moving on to us, forcing us out onto this narrow staircase where we were right in front of Antifa,” George said of the scene as the rally was being dispersed.
Another Midwestern rally-goer, “Andrew,” in his early thirties, also came to the park with one of the early waves. His primary goal, he claims, was to stay out of the fray and capture video of the happenings. He spoke to Breitbart News about his own impressions of the policing:
We were told by police to walk around the perimeter, past one of the two parks where [the counter-protesters] had a permit to rally. Antifa came out and they started following us down a dead end where the police would not let us through to go to Lee Park, so we had to go back through the lines of [counter-protesters] … at that point a giant melee broke out. It’s hard to say who started it or how it started. It seemed to be some of the Black Lives Matter activists got in our faces and started assaulting us and the natural response was self-defense … What I didn’t expect was the inability or the refusal of the police department to respond to threats.
Andrew claimed the police made no attempt to apprehend the assailant and then related having projectiles including glass bottles thrown at his group by Antifa activists as they tried to make their way out of the what he insistently called “Lee Park.”