Local leaders condemn violent clashes in Virginia

Rescue personnel help injured people after a car ran into a large group of protesters after an white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. The nationalists were holding the rally to protest plans by the city of Charlottesville to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. There were several hundred protesters marching in a long line when the car drove into a group of them. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Local leaders are speaking out against the violence and unrest in Charlottesville, Va. on Saturday.

Clashes between a white supremacist group and counter-protesters led to the deaths of three people, including a 32-year-old woman who was run over by a vehicle. Police arrested the driver of that car Saturday night.

Members of Rhode Island’s congressional delegation took to social media as the violence boiled over.

Senior Senator Jack Reed, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, also released a statement, saying:

I condemn this disgraceful, hate-filled, un-American gathering of white supremacists. The surest way to defeat this type of bigotry and hateful ideology is to stand up against discrimination and prejudice in all its forms and strive for true equality.”

The protests were sparked by the decision to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Eyewitness News spoke one-on-one with the Providence NAACP President Jim Vincent about the racial tensions contributing to Saturday’s unrest.

“We haven’t seen neo-Nazis and Klu Klux Klan and white supremacists come out like this in over 50 years,” said Vincent.

He went on to say he believes groups like the KKK are domestic terrorists, and should face similar treatment.

“We cannot tolerate any bigotry that manifests itself in death,” said Vincent.

The Massachusetts State Police and the Commonwealth Fusion Center released a statement saying they’re monitoring the situation in Virginia for any ties to Massachusetts and its residents, going on to say:

We condemn the bigotry and those who preach it that sparked today’s violence. Our prayers tonight are with the victims of this violence fueled by hate, as well as with the police officers and other emergency personnel who responded with professionalism and bravery to today’s events.”