Police Stand Down in Charlottesville

By Nancy Flory Published on August 14, 2017

In the aftermath of the Charlottesville protests that turned deadly Saturday morning, some witnesses have criticized police response. Besides the uncontrolled rioting, suspect James Fields, Jr. allegedly drove his car into the crowd of protesters, killing one and injuring 19 others. Police were reportedly told to stand down until ordered to intervene.

Bystanders now say that police did not do their job and that the only response to the melee was a delayed response by riot police. Minister-in-training Brittany Caine-Conley told the New York Times that there was no real police presence. “We were watching people punch each other; people were bleeding all the while police were inside of barricades at the park, watching. It was essentially brawling on the street and community members trying to protect each other.”

Jason Kessler, organizer of the white nationalist rally, wondered if a swift police response could have prevented the violence that occurred. Kessler said in a statement that although he had worked with the police to come up with a plan for maintaining safety, it was not followed. He said the police did not separate the nationalists and the counter protesters, which “exacerbated the violence.” Police, Kessler said, were “underequipped for the situation.”

Police were simply doing what they were ordered to do prior to the event. According to the ACLU of Virginia, police said, “We’ll not intervene until given command to do so.” ProPublica reported that state police and National Guardsmen watched for hours without trying to separate the protesters and counter protesters.

Brian Moran, Virigina’s secretary of public safety and homeland security, said that the police’s plan “went extremely well.” When asked why the police didn’t try harder to stop the fighting, Moran said, “It was a volatile situation and it’s unfortunate people resorted to violence.”

State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said, “It may have looked like a lot of our folks were standing around … there were other troopers and law enforcement officers who were responding to incidents as they arose.” 

Moran asked Governor Terry McAuliffe to declare a state of emergency and police called for protesters and counter protesters to disperse. Shortly after that, James Fields, Jr. drove his car into the crowd, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer. Fields has been charged with second-degree murder. 

On Sunday, Governor McAuliffe defended the police in an interview. He praised the “great work” of the police and said that Fields’ action was “car terrorism,” and unpreventable. “You can’t stop some crazy guy who came here from Ohio and used his car as a weapon,” he said. “He is a terrorist.”

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  • Patmos

    “Brian Moran, Virigina’s secretary of public safety and homeland security, said that the police’s plan “went extremely well.””

    “He (McAuliffe) praised the “great work” of the police and said that Fields’ action was “car terrorism,” and unpreventable.”

    Translation: They wanted it to happen. A woman died for their attempt at political gain.

    • Alfy

      Your comment is equivalent to the same nonsense I hear from black lives matter. Law enforcement does not exist to serve politics. A women died because of a hate filled terrorist. Police did not want this to happen , your painting a target on their back. No George bush did not cause 911 , no the charlottsville police did not cause a women’s death.

      There’s no doubt politics were involved in this , democrats have now been handed a victory in Virginia s governer race. But let’s keep focus. The police are not the problem, in this case it’s the people they work for , Mcauliffe. The police saved hundreds of lives that day , the only incidents were between the proggressives and racist , the general public was kept safe. Let’s stand with our police force , we can critique the politics of this debacle at the same time.

      • Tom

        no he’s not slowmind, he is saying the mayor and this sec. of public safety told the police not to intervene and therefore enabled the violence. You are really bad at reading comprehension huh? The cops have to do what they are told to do. They have a hierarchical system of command, the grunts take orders from the top. That’s not blaming the cops, you think they should have gotten fired by defying orders and protect a bunch of far wing people?

        • Alfy

          The police chief said he never recieved such a order. I watched the interview , google police chief charlottsville news conference. The only report of that accusation came from a tweet from a ACLU reporter. If you except one tweet as news over the police chief so be it. But the fact is the police never received a order not to intervene.

          I live near charlottsville, fact is there are 136 police officers in the whole town , backed up by state police for thousands of counter protesters that arrived who spread out over the whole town.

          • Tom

            I *accept* to correct your syntax for you, the word of a civil liberties organization over the word of a politician trying to cover his butt any day of the week actually.

          • Alfy

            You corrected my grammar, not syntax. The Aclu denies the accusation, they said the tweet was taken out of context. You are believing a report from a proggressive website called pro republica. A freedom of information act was filed and no evidence was found to support your or any other proggressives false news. The Va state police and the charlottsville police are not politicians . They deserved better than the war you and black lives matters are waging against them.. I’ll stand with the police.

  • Az1seeit

    This is unconscionable! I am speechless!

  • Dean Bruckner

    Well, I never thought to hear a grown Virginian say that he was powerless to stop a kid from Ohio. He is not an alpha male. He is not a beta male. He is not a gamma male. He is not a delta male. He is an epsilon male.

  • Alfy

    This article is wrong on so many counts. I guess Nancy Flory did not watch the news conference from the police chief today , or just failed to update her article.

    The ACLU tweet , if you can consider a tweet a news source was false , the police chief asked which officer said he was told not to intervene until ordered because that was a false statement , the source was never given to the police chief .

    The police did have a plan and the protesters agreed to the plan but never followed it resulting the police force having to change their tactics.

    Pro publication was wrong. The police chief said the counter protesters and protesters were violent within the first thirty minutes of the protest which resulted in the immediate call to disperse. Also you might not want to trust news fro propublica , they are funded by the Sandler foundation which funds many proggressive movements like center for American progress , human rights watch, earth justice , etc too many to name .

    IMO this is just another hit piece on out brave men and women in the police force who put there lives on the line evey day. Proggressives went to this march looking for a fight with a bunch of racist , and they found it .. Then blame the police when it all goes to hell. Same proggressives that organized and funded the counter protest, fund and organize back black lives matter and their vendetta against police .. This is a shameful article.

    • Andrew Mason

      Why blame the police for orders given by elected (left-wing) officials? Unless you conclude no such orders were given, and the police elected not to intervene, that they sympathised with the BLM etc, in which case it’s not Flory who is postulating shameful conduct, but you.

      • Alfy

        Typical proggressives. The police do not exist to enforce your agenda. They enforce the law. I stand with the police and I thank them for saving hundreds of lives that day! The police did a great job keeping people safe , the only incidents were between proggressives and racist , which were contained , the general public was kept safe.

        • Andrew Mason

          Wait, are you suggesting I’m a Progressive? O.O RoFL!!! The reports I’m seeing suggest the police were MIA. They saved no lives, and their absence permitted the violence. What violence erupted was contained not by the police, but by militiamen or Oathkeepers. Could the reports I’ve seen be wrong? Sure, but my point is there is very little credit being given by anyone to the police for their actions, and very little suggestion they enforced the law. In fact there are suggestions the police were complicit in violating constitutional rights, though such orders came from a political level. Oh I should probably point out that it wasn’t just progressives and racists that traveled to Charlottesville.

          • Alfy

            The counter protest was bought, paid for , and organized by proggressive organizations. As for the reports your seeing , if they are like this article quoting from proggressive news outlets or ACLU tweets , then yes the reports your seeing are wrong. I encourage you to find the police chiefs news conference and see for yourself instead of reading proggressive spin. The police are under attack in this country , Blm is responsible for yet another attack on the police last month. We can’t turn our back on them. They did save lives , and lost 2 officers in the process.

          • Andrew Mason

            No I’m not relying on MSM sources, and yes I appreciate things are tough for the cops, but voters elect the governments that give cops their orders and funding. As for the 2 lives lost, as far as I understand it that was an unrelated accident. A tragedy yes, but an accident that could happen anytime, anywhere, and to anyone.

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