In the wake of bloody violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, a congressman is urging the Trump administration to investigate the roles of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer and “Unite the Right” rally organizer Jason Kessler in the escalation of street violence the left one woman dead and dozens injured.
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, called for a Justice Department investigation during an appearance on “Fox & Friends” Sunday.
“The way forward’s not gonna be easy,” Gohmert said. “And I think the Justice Department needs a full investigation of the governor, of the mayor. …
“We have got to have this investigated. They were [behind] the violence at Trump events, and they may have been behind this violence getting started. They facilitated it, anyway.”
During the interview, Gohmert claimed Gov. McAuliffe and Mayor Signer had previously indicated there’d be violence in Charlottesville.
“The witnesses and the photographs show they herded these groups to create violence,” Gohmert charged.
Watch Rep. Gohmert’s comments:
Weapons stash? State police say none found
Gov. McAuliffe had claimed white nationalists stashed weapons around Charlottesville before the rally. He made the statement in an interview with Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson.
“They had battering rams, and we had picked up different weapons that they had stashed around the city,” McAuliffe said.
But that statement just wasn’t true, according to Reason. Virginia State Police Corinne Geller told the online magazine no weapons stashes were ever found.
“The governor was referring to the briefing provided him in advance of Saturday’s rally and the extra security measures being taken by local and state police,” Geller told Reason. “As a safety precaution in advance of August 12, such searches were conducted in and around Emancipation and McIntire Parks. No weapons were located as a result of those searches.”
McAuliffe had also told the New York Times on Aug. 13 that up to 80 percent of the rally attendees had carried semi-automatic weapons: “You saw the militia walking down the street, you would have thought they were an army,” he said. The Times later edited McAuliffe’s quote out of its report.
Both McAuliffe and Signer have defended the actions of police before and during the Charlottesville mayhem, but according to the ALCU of Virginia, the police presence was ineffective.
Repeated attempts by WND to reach Gov. McAuliffe, Mayor Signer and Charlottesville’s Director of Communications Miriam Dickler for comment regarding the actions of police were met with no response. Phone calls went to voicemail, and emails were seemingly ignored.
Law-enforcement expert blames mayor
One police expert told WND he believes Mayor Signer is to blame for the Charlottesville catastrophe.
“There was a lack of police presence when this thing first kicked-off,” Joseph Giacalone, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York and a retired NYPD sergeant, said Monday.
“When you have two rival groups coming together in a very charged atmosphere, you have to have your cops lined up to prevent these skirmishes,” Giacalone continued. “They also should have had proper barricades surrounding that entire park.”
Giacalone believes Mayor Signer is at fault for the debacle.
“The police chief gets his marching orders from the mayor,” Giacalone said. “This is under his watch, so he’s ultimately responsible.”
Jason Kessler, organizer of the white nationalist “Unite the Right” rally claimed “the police purposefully created the catastrophe that led to a melee in the streets of Charlottesville and the death of a counter-protester.”
As WND reported, Kessler was until recently a Barack Obama supporter and was also a member of the leftist radical Occupy Wall Street Movement, according to a report from a hard-left activist group. Before Kessler organized “Unite the Right” rally, it appears he was also a fan of President Clinton, gun control, Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran and other leftist causes. The details from his recent past have many in the blogosphere and on social media asking: Was the Charlottesville rally organizer really a left-wing plant?
Kendall Bills, a counter-protester, reported that police did nothing to stop the violence.
“At no point did I see the police intervene in any violence they were witness to, including my own,” she told CNN.
Boston versus Charlottesville
Meanwhile, a “Free Speech” rally in Boston, Massachusetts, Saturday drew thousands of counter-protesters, but it did not result in death and serious injuries like the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, demonstrating that effective policing can prevent mass violence at such events.
Giacalone believes the police response to the “Free Speech” rally in Boston was indicative of the effective policing measures that were absent in Charlottesville.
At the Boston “Free Speech” rally, up to 40,000 counter-protesters marched on the small crowd, but no one was seriously hurt.
The police response in Boston to the “Free Speech” rally differed drastically from the similar situation in Charlottesville, with the Boston Police Department providing escort for the “Free Speech” rally attendees.
Boston police gave “Free Speech” rally-goers escorts in vans as they left the rally, allowing attendees to escape confrontational crowds of counter-protesters.
— Jan Ransom (@Jan_Ransom) August 19, 2017
In Charlottesville, police instead pushed the “Unite the Right” demonstrators into counter-protesters, sparking confrontations and violence.
Editor’s note: Video contains offensive language:
The ACLU of Virginia criticized the police response in Charlottesville.
“We asked the city to adhere to the U.S. Constitution and ensure people’s safety at the protest. It failed to do so. In our system, the city makes the rules and the courts enforce them,” ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Claire Gastanaga said in a statement. “It is the responsibility of law enforcement to ensure safety of both protesters and counter-protesters. The policing on Saturday was not effective in preventing violence.”
Report: Cops ordered not to engage
Fox News reporter Doug McKelway claimed a police source said officers were ordered not to engage violent protesters and counter-protesters.
“I know for a fact that we have heard from a senior law enforcement from another county nearby this one, nearby Albemarle County, who that says that some of his underlings who attended a briefing here conducted by the city of Charlottesville and the police department of Charlottesville and the mayor’s office of Charlottesville before Saturday morning’s riot happened, that they were not to make arrests without the explicit approval of the mayor of the city of Charlottesville,” McKelway said.
While the Boston “Free Speech” rally was decidedly less violent than the “Unite the Right” rally, 33 people were arrested in Boston on a variety of charges.
“The charges were mostly for disturbing a public assembly, resisting arrest, or disorderly conduct, though some were arrested for assault and battery on police officers – and a Norwich, New York, man was arrested for unlawful possession of a firearm, and three men were arrested with knives,” reported CBS Boston.
The violence in Charlottesville resulted in only three arrests, even though violent clashes left one dead and at least 54 injured.
Think Progress notes that six individuals were arrested for public intoxication on the same weekend as the “Unite the Right” rally.
Giacalone said there is a way to mitigate the political violence plaguing America: enforcement of anti-mask laws.
“You have to enforce the anti-mask rules,” he said. “When you see masked people show up, there’s going to be problems.”