US & Canada

Angry protest at Charlottesville meeting over far-right rally

Protesters at a city council meeting in Charlottesville, Virginia. Image copyright CBS News
Image caption Protesters held up a sign that read "Blood on your hands"

Angry protests erupted at a city council meeting in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a woman was killed at a white nationalist rally 10 days ago.

Protesters and residents packed into the meeting to criticise officials for their handling of the event.

The mayor and two council members left the room as two people unfurled a sign that read "Blood On Your Hands".

It came as President Donald Trump called for unity after his initial response to the clashes drew outrage.

Mr Trump used his first prime-time policy address about Afghanistan to revise his thoughts on the violence in Charlottesville for the third time.

"A wound inflicted upon a single member of our community is a wound inflicted upon us all," he said on Monday night, reading from a teleprompter.

"When one part of America hurts, we all hurt. And when one citizen suffers an injustice we all suffer together."

During a rancorous news conference at Trump Tower in Manhattan on 16 August, Mr Trump appeared to defend the organisers of the rally, many of whom were neo-Nazis and white supremacists, by blaming "both sides" for the violence.

The right-wing march had been organised to protest against the proposed removal of a statue of General Robert E Lee, who commanded the pro-slavery Confederate forces during the American Civil War.

But it descended into violence after the rally's supporters were confronted by anti-racism groups. A car later ploughed through a crowd of counter-protesters and killed Heather Heyer.

The town agreed to drape black cloth over the the statues of Robert E Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson to mourn the loss of Ms Heyer, but protesters insisted it was not enough at Monday night's city council meeting.

They called for the Mayor Mike Signer to resign and shouted "shut it down" and "shame" at members of the council, which forced members to briefly end the meeting and leave the chambers, according to US media.

The violence in Charlottesville has underscored a national debate on America's racial legacy and the preservation of US southern culture through symbols such as the Confederate battle flag and statues of rebel leaders.

Struggling to keep up?

  • 12 Aug: Mr Trump condemns "in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides", but stops short of explicitly denouncing the white nationalists and neo-Nazis who organised the event
  • 14 Aug: Using a teleprompter, Mr Trump says "racism is evil and those who cause violence in its names are criminals and thugs", calling the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and white supremacists "repugnant"
  • 15 Aug: During a heated news conference at Trump Tower in New York, Mr Trump again blamed "both sides", adding those who marched in defence of the statue included "many fine people"
  • 21 Aug: "Love for America requires love for all of its people" and "when we open our hearts to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice, no place for bigotry, and no tolerance for hate"