Virginia governor defends Charlottesville law enforcement

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) on Sunday defended police officers who responded to violence during a protest organized by white supremacist groups in Charlottesville, Va., the day before.

The Democratic governor said law enforcement authorities had done “great work” in “a very delicate situation,” in comments reported by The New York Times.

His response follows the protest organizer claiming the protesters involved sought a peaceful rally. Jason Kessler put the blame on law enforcement for the violence that overtook a protest against government removal of a Confederate statue on Saturday. The protesters clashed with counterprotesters, leading the governor to declare a state of emergency before the rally even started on Saturday.

{mosads}McAuliffe said the police estimated 80 percent of those in attendance — both the white supremacist and counterprotester groups — were likely armed, “yet not a shot was fired.”

“It’s easy to criticize, but I can tell you this, 80 percent of the people here had semiautomatic weapons,” he told the newspaper, shortly after meeting with law enforcement officials.

“And yet not a shot was fired, zero property damage,” he said.

McAuliffe said the death of Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old woman who died after a driver plowed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, was an unpreventable attack.

“You can’t stop some crazy guy who came here from Ohio and used his car as a weapon,” McAuliffe said. “He is a terrorist.”

Kessler, in a press conference set up earlier in the day, said law enforcement officials “exacerbated the violence” by failing to separate groups who opposed one another at the rally.

He called them “under-equipped for the situation.”

“The blame for today’s violence is primarily the result of the Charlottesville government officials and the law enforcement officers which failed to maintain law and order by protecting the First Amendment rights of the participates of the ‘Unite the Right’ rally,” Kessler said in a statement, adding that the law enforcement officials did not follow the plan they’d created for the rally.

Kessler was mobbed by protesters who chased him offstage during a press conference earlier Sunday, with some attempting to lunge or punch at him.

The violence has been condemned by a majority of lawmakers as racially motivated by white supremacist groups.


The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.

See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video