A city council meeting in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned chaotic on Monday night as residents complained about the city’s decision to allow a white supremacist march earlier this month as well as the police response to the resulting melee.
Many called on the council to resign or vowed to vote them out of office over the violence that shook Charlottesville on Aug. 11-12 as neo-Nazis, KKK members and others descended on the city as part of a “Unite the Right” rally.
A couple of residents climbed onto the council’s dais and unfurled a large banned that read “BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS” as people chanted “resign” at the council.
Other residents complained that the police did a better job protecting the white supremacists than the city’s own citizens.
“I’m outraged!” said Tracy Saxon, per The New York Times. “I watched my people get beat and murdered. They let Nazis in here have freedom of speech and they protect them? And we can’t have freedom of speech?”
Police officers removed several people during the meeting.
At one point, the city council left the room, but returned when Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy changed the meeting into a forum allowing individuals to address the council.
Heather Heyer, 32, was killed and at least 19 others injured when a car slammed into a group of counter-protesters in Charlottesville. James Alex Fields Jr., a 20-year-old white supremacist, has been charged with murder and several other counts.
Two state troopers were also killed in a helicopter crash while engaged in police operations related to the rally.
Residents said the violence could have been prevented by the city.
“You had multiple opportunities to intervene and you did not intervene one time. We told you exactly what you needed to do and you did nothing,” said one unidentified man, per NBC station WVIR.
City officials said they were forced to hold the rally due to a court order.
The council voted to cover the city’s controversial statues of two Confederate figures, Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, with a black shroud out of mourning for Heyer, the Daily Progress newspaper reported.
The city is also seeking the removal of the Lee statue, and on Monday night asked its Board of Architectural Review to make a decision. The removal has been complicated by an ongoing lawsuit as well as state law.
“We’ve been told that if we take them down tonight, we’re going to be personally sued,” Bellamy was quoted as saying. “We will personally be held liable and charged with a class-six felony.”