A new report debunks stories about the Charlottesville riot

Summary: A new report about the Charlottesville riot debunks much of the media’s coverage and validates Trump’s widely mocked response to it.

White Nationalists Marching with Torches
March at Charlottesville, VA, on 11 March 2017. Photo by Andrew Shurtleff/The Daily Progress.

Revelations in a report giving an
Independent review of the protest events in Charlottesville, Virginia.

This is a report commissioned by the City of Charlottesville. It is a long, lavishly researched, dynamite rebuke to the mainstream media’s coverage of the Charlottesville riot.

(1) About the role of law enforcement (or, more accurately, “law enforcement”).

Two passionate groups of protesters — nothing unusual in US history. The incompetence that law enforcement displayed is also not unusual.  What is unusual was their passivity. Police often respond to riots with excess force, but seldom have police just watched a riot. The investigators did not ask why this happened. Perhaps some ideological bias was at work?

The Charlottesville Police Department (CPD) had adequate intelligence about the size of the demonstrations, and the high odds of violence. Their planning was highly incompetent. The Virginia State Police (VSP), a vital component in any response, almost totally refused to coordinate or cooperate. They even ran their radios on frequencies that local law enforcement could not use.

{P}olice planning for August 12 was inadequate and disconnected. CPD commanders did not reach out to officials in other jurisdictions where these groups had clashed previously to seek information and advice. CPD supervisors did not provide adequate training or information to line officers, leaving them uncertain and unprepared for a challenging enforcement environment. CPD planners waited too long to request the assistance of the state agency skilled in emergency response. CPD command staff also received inadequate legal advice and did not implement a prohibition of certain items that could be used as weapons.

CPD devised a flawed Operational Plan for the Unite The Right rally. …The plan did not ensure adequate separation between conflicting groups. Officers were not stationed along routes of ingress and egress to and from Emancipation Park but rather remained behind barricades in relatively empty zones within the park and around the Command Center. Officers were inadequately equipped to respond to disorders, and tactical gear was not accessible to officers when they needed it.

Charlottesville riot
At the Charlottesville protest on 12 August 2017. By Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

CPD commanders did not sufficiently coordinate with the Virginia State Police in a unified command on or before August 12. VSP never shared its formal planning document with CPD, a crucial failure that prevented CPD from recognizing the limits of VSP’s intended engagement. CPD and VSP personnel were unable to communicate via radio, as their respective systems were not connected despite plans to ensure they were. There was no joint training or all-hands briefing on or before August 12.

Chief Thomas did not exercise functional control of VSP forces despite his role as overall incident commander. These failures undercut cohesion and operational effectiveness. CPD and VSP operated largely independently on August 12, a clear failure of unified command. …

Because of their misalignment and lack of accessible protective gear, officers failed to intervene in physical altercations that took place in areas adjacent to Emancipation Park. VSP directed its officers to remain behind barricades rather than risk injury responding to conflicts between protesters and counter-protesters. CPD commanders similarly instructed their officers not to intervene in all but the most serious physical confrontations. Neither agency deployed available field forces or other units to protect public safety at the locations where violence took place. Instead, command staff prepared to declare an unlawful assembly and disperse the crowd. When violence was most prevalent, CPD commanders pulled officers back to a protected area of the park, where they remained for over an hour as people in the large crowd fought on Market Street.

Once the unlawful assembly was declared, law enforcement efforts to disperse the crowd generated more violence as Alt-Right protesters were pushed back toward the counterprotesters with whom they had been in conflict. Once Emancipation Park was clear, the violent conflicts spread beyond the park. Small groups of people wandered through the streets and engaged in frequent skirmishes unimpeded by police. Violence erupted at the Market Street parking garage, Justice Park, High Street, the Water Street parking area, and on the Downtown Mall. Police attempted to respond to these violent conflicts, but were too far away and too late to intervene. The result was a period of lawlessness and tension that threatened the safety of the entire community

The most tragic manifestation of the failure to protect public safety after the event was declared unlawful was the death of Heather Heyer. Early on August 12, CPD had placed a school resource officer alone at the intersection of 4th Street NE and Market Street. This officer feared for her safety as groups of angry Alt-Right protesters and counter-protesters streamed by her as they left Emancipation Park. The officer called for assistance and was relieved of her post. Unfortunately, CPD commanders did not replace her or make other arrangements to prevent traffic from traveling across the Downtown Mall on 4th Street. A single wooden saw horse was all that impeded traffic down 4th Street as large groups of people continued to roam the streets. This vulnerability was exposed when James Fields drove his vehicle down the unprotected street into a large crowd of counter-protesters at the intersection of 4th Street SE and Water Street, killing Ms. Heyer. …

The Report’s conclusion:

{T}he City of Charlottesville protected neither free expression nor public safety on August 12. The City was unable to protect the right of free expression and facilitate the permit holder’s offensive speech. This represents a failure of one of government’s core functions — the protection of fundamental rights. Law enforcement also failed to maintain order and protect citizens from harm, injury, and death. Charlottesville preserved neither of those principles on August 12, which has led to deep distrust of government within this community.

The Executive Summary has small gems scattered, unremarked, through it. Such as this, about the leadership of the CPD.

Chief Thomas’s attempts to influence our review illustrate a deeper issue within CPD — a fear of retribution for criticism. Many officers with whom we spoke expressed concern that their truthful provision of critical information about the protest events would result in retaliation from Chief Thomas. They described a culture of conformity within the Department that discourages officers from raising issues and providing feedback. These officers suggested that this hierarchical approach hampered the planning for the July 8 and August 12 events, as lieutenants, sergeants, and line officers were not sufficiently consulted or asked to provide input.

The Virginia State Police refused to cooperate or assist the investigation because they could refuse and get away with it. Ditto for Virginia’s Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran.

All this is just business as usual in US government, as our agencies become independent fiefdoms — often immune from effective supervision (except under extreme scandals) from elected officials and the public.Police: To Protect and to Serve

(2) About the Leftist’s response to the investigation.

For example, when CPD detectives attempted to obtain information from various groups who had openly promoted resistance to the July 8 event, their efforts were criticized as “an intimidation tactic intended to curtail leftist speech and expressive conduct.” NLG {the National Lawyers Guild} made a similar allegation in response to our attempts to interview people who were present in opposition to the permitted events.

(3) About the alt-Right’s response to the investigation.

In addition to the protesters and counter-protesters present for these events, we attempted to interview the militia personnel who appeared on August 12. In public statements and in conversations with us, the militia members claimed objectivity. They indicated that they appeared in Charlottesville to protect free speech and discourage violence on all sides. We had constructive discussions with several militia members, though we were unable to arrange formal interviews with any of them. As described above, the City’s lawsuit against the militia groups halted our constructive efforts to obtain their cooperation. Once the lawsuit was filed, the militia groups told us they were no longer willing to provide information to our review.

People from the alt-Right also cooperated until the City filed the lawsuit against them, described below.

(4) About those militia groups (which journalists described as terrifying, perhaps evil).

I have been critical of Right-wing militia, but they behaved admirably at Charlottesville. It is a sad day in America when public order needs militia’s assistance — while our large numbers of our expensive and lavishly equipped police watch. See these excerpts from the body of the report.

Members of several militia groups contacted CPD, including George Curbelo and Christian Yingling, the commanders of the New York Lightfoot Militia and Pennsylvania Lightfoot Militia, respectively. Captain Mitchell told us that CPD explicitly rejected coordinating with these groups and asked them to “stay away.” Likewise, Lieutenant Hatter told us that he instructed one of his detectives to contact Yingling and tell him, “do not come to Charlottesville, we do not need your assistance.” From Mitchell’s perspective, inviting the militia would simply increase tension with additional firearms at the event.

Detective Braden Kirby and Officer Logan Woodzell recalled communications with Curbelo. Kirby received e-mails and phone calls from Curbelo asking whether CPD would request the militia’s assistance, which he described as “peace-making.” Kirby told him that CPD did not want assistance, but conceded that the militia had a right to attend.

Both sides had their own militia!

CPD received several phone calls from concerned citizens that morning about the presence of armed militia at various locations. Security for counter-protesters at Justice Park was provided by the Redneck Revolt {“putting the red back into Redneck“} group that had been present at St. Paul’s the night before. One witness told us he spoke with a Redneck Revolt member and learned that they intended to prevent Unite The Right demonstrators from coming to Justice Park. Professor Walt Heinecke, the holder of the permit for Justice and McGuffey Parks, also hired private security for the day.

The Right’s militia in action (red emphasis added).

A minute or so later, Lieutenant Hatter jumped over the barricade to deescalate the tension between the flag-toting demonstrator and the crowd around him. Followed by a VSP trooper, Hatter drew his retractable baton and walked over to step between the parties. Officer E.A. Maney, who had moved to the back of the parking lot for a moment, noticed Lieutenant Hatter go over the barrier and confront the demonstrator. Maney’s body camera footage shows Hatter and the state trooper walking the demonstrator away from the crowd with members of the militia appearing to guard Hatter’s rear. Maney then jumped the barrier to assist Hatter. Hatter spoke a few words to calm the demonstrator down then walked back around to 2nd Street to re-enter Zone 5. This is the only instance we identified of a CPD officer leaving a barricaded safe zone to enter the crowd and de-escalate a potentially violent situation on August 12. …

Seeing officers enter the crowd on Market Street, an officer in Zone 1 asked Sergeant Paul Best, “What happened to not going outside the gate if they’re beating the crap out of each other?” Sergeant Best responded, “Yeah, well, that was somebody else’s zone.” Back in Zone 5, Officer Maney told a fellow officer, “I like those militia guys.” His colleague replied, “Yeah, they’re doing a good job.” …

A group of militia had moved away from the park at the declaration of the unlawful assembly and taken refuge in the alley off of Market Street behind Hill & Wood. …Several people who were injured made their way into the alley, and it became a makeshift safe zone with the militia members pushing agitators from all sides away.

(5) The Left attacks the militia.

More from the body of the text.

The militia group approached the CPD mobile field force line that was stationed at 2nd Street NW and Market Street …They spoke with Lieutenant Hatter, who advised them that everyone was remaining calm at that time and they did not want any more altercations. Lieutenant O’Donnell told …Christian Yingling, the commander of the Pennsylvania Lightfoot Militia, …that the militia’s presence was a “lightning rod” and encouraged them to leave. The militia group complied …

As the militia members attempted to enter their vehicles, a group of counter-protesters followed and yelled at them. …After one militia member experienced difficulty getting into his car and exiting the lot, the other members opted not to get in their vehicles. Instead, they continued to walk east, away from the crowd of counter-protesters. …The counter-protesters followed. By that time, the police field forces had started to arrive along Water Street, but they chose not to follow. Lieutenant Gore later explained in his after-action report that he did not want to chase the angry groups farther away from law enforcement units on the mall that could provide backup.

Witness Richard Goodin followed the group of counter-protesters that pursued the militia to Garrett Street. He told us that he saw young men picking up and throwing rocks at the militia as they crossed the railroad tracks near Garrett Street. Video provided to us confirms the rock-throwing, as does the open source video showing the militia’s perspective. When one of the militia members was hit in the head with a rock, they took up a position along the wall near the Sultan Kebab restaurant …the counter-protesters continued to yell at the militia to leave, to which the militia members responded that they were not being allowed to leave.

Someone approached the police and advised them that someone was injured. As the CPD forces started to move towards the crowd, it dissipated …

(6) Recommendations.

The Report’s recommendations are the usual malarkey. “Better preparation is critical.” “Effective Management of Protest Events.” No mention of “law enforcement should do their job” or “failure of law enforcement agencies to cooperate should result in dismissal of their high-level leaders.”

Going forward

Since it is a liberal city, speech suppression is the future. On 12 October the City of Charlottesville joined a lawsuit “regarding unauthorized paramilitary organizations.”

“On October 12, 2017, Georgetown Law’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection (ICAP) filed a complaint in Charlottesville City Circuit Court asking a Virginia state court to prohibit key “Unite the Right” organizers and an array of participating private paramilitary groups and their commanders from coming back to Virginia to conduct illegal paramilitary activity.  The City of Charlottesville has joined this suit as a plaintiff.”

Trump’s first two statements about Charlottesville

He is a clown president and a liar, but spoke the simple truth on this occasion. So of course the Left went berzerk. On 12 August 2017

We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides.  On many sides.  It’s been going on for a long time in our country.  Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama.  This has been going on for a long, long time.

It has no place in America.  What is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives.  …the hate and the division must stop, and must stop right now.  We have to come together as Americans with love for our nation and true affection — really — and I say this so strongly — true affection for each other.

A follow-up two days later, on 14 August 2017.

“The Department of Justice has opened a civil rights investigation into the deadly car attack that killed one innocent American and wounded 20 others.  To anyone who acted criminally in this weekend’s racist violence, you will be held fully accountable.  Justice will be delivered. As I said on Saturday, we condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence.  It has no place in America.

“And as I have said many times before:  No matter the color of our skin, we all live under the same laws, we all salute the same great flag, and we are all made by the same almighty God.  We must love each other, show affection for each other, and unite together in condemnation of hatred, bigotry, and violence.  We must rediscover the bonds of love and loyalty that bring us together as Americans.

“Racism is evil.  And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans. We are a nation founded on the truth that all of us are created equal.  We are equal in the eyes of our Creator.  We are equal under the law.  And we are equal under our Constitution.  Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America.

“Two days ago, a young American woman, Heather Heyer, was tragically killed.  Her death fills us with grief, and we send her family our thoughts, our prayers, and our love. These three fallen Americans embody the goodness and decency of our nation.  In times such as these, America has always shown its true character:  responding to hate with love, division with unity, and violence with an unwavering resolve for justice.”

For More Information

If you found this post of use, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Also see the posts about Antifa, about political violenceabout journalism, about information and disinformation, about reforming America – steps to a new politics, and especially these…

  1. How the Left sees its political violence: as innocents victimized.
  2. See the facts about the Charlottesville riot. You decide what they mean.
  3. The photo that made Nathan Damigo leader of the alt-Right.
  4. ImportantA simple solution to the political violence afflicting America.
  5. The Left attacks free speech. See the ACLU defend it.
  6. Journalists loved Antifa. Now they’ve turned on them.

19 thoughts on “A new report debunks stories about the Charlottesville riot

  1. Well I suppose it’s hard to argue with THAT part of Trump’s remarks on Charlottesville…

    I have had two long-running thoughts about our law enforcement officers here in the USA. These both come with the disclaimer of – I’m looking at trends – individual policemen and area precincts and departments do not necessarily share in these traits…

    First, Robert Peel’s principles, which are more or less where we got our idea of modern police: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peelian_principles A lot of American law enforcement agencies do not seem to care much about these or their approximate equivalents, or at least, have other priorities. Part of Peel’s insight is that the police has to maintain the public regard, so that the public considers them preferable to the army or “nothing,” and I think in many areas of the USA, this is not the case — and it’s not due to some regional adoration of crime, either.

    The second is more cultural: We seem, culturally, to give a unique status to police officers (which is sometimes shared with veterans, firemen, and similar groups; the usual word now is “first responders.”) These people are in a dangerous line of work and deserve honor, but when we combine this with police agencies that seem to see themselves as a unique group whose focus is self-protection rather than public service, we have the precursors to some pretty dangerous possibilities.

    1. SF,

      “Well I suppose it’s hard to argue with THAT part of Trump’s remarks on Charlottesville…”

      Do you refer to the next (and last) paragraph? Yes, that doesn’t look so good today. But it was what Trump was reading in the news that day.

      “I want to salute the great work of the state and local police in Virginia — incredible people — law enforcement, incredible people — and also the National Guard. They’ve really been working smart and working hard. They’ve been doing a terrific job. The federal authorities are also providing tremendous support to the governor. He thanked me for that. And we are here to provide whatever other assistance is needed. We are ready, willing, and able.”

      It’s an American tradition for the police to congratulate themselves after major screw-ups — and journalists to applaud. After Ruby Ridge (this is from memory), the Marshals were given medals and the FBI agent in charge was promoted to the #2 slot.

    2. The part of Trump’s remarks on Charlottesville that people remember, I believe, came a day or two later, when he said there were “very good people on both sides.” It was not long-lived but I remember that there was grudging approval of the sentiments in his first speech on much of the left. (Obviously not all.)

    3. SF,

      The post was already over 2500 words, so I didn’t want to wade too far into the lies of journalists and liberals about Trump’s statements. I just added to the post his second remarks. There is nothing objectionable in these, despite the Left’s insistence that their violence is angelic and any resistance to it is evil.

      A typical example of the media’s coverage is this from CBS: “White House scrambles to contain fallout from Trump comments“. The opening sentence: “The White House is scrambling to contain the fallout after President Trump blamed “both sides” for the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.” That supporting link gives this the feel of authenticity. But the linked story does not contain the quoted “both sides.” His comments did not discuss the Charlottesville riot, but the underlying issue of the statues. About that he had these words, about which only die-hard leftists will clutch their pearls: “Asked specifically whether Charlottesville’s Lee statue should come down, he said: ‘I would say that’s up to a local town, community or the federal government, depending on where it is located.'”

      On Tuesday Trump made the “good people on both sides” remark, which sent the leftists in the press into a frenzy. Personally I believe he was being overly fair and nice. The rioters on both sides were cousins under the skin, both working against the rest of us, and their violent riots should be met with tear gas and arrests.

  2. The top link, Independent Review of The Protest, Won’t actually open. other than that, it’s a great post. I’d say more about it, but duty calls and I have ti be somewhere.

  3. I have friends who were there and they too completely contradicted the media narrative. Yes, I have friends who are alt right. I also have friends that are hard core transgendered liberals. I’m neither. But I can see points on both sides.

    1. Gute,

      Please read more carefully. This is not a statement of the Cosmic All in 2,500 words. It shows one specific thing: that the media misreported important aspects of this event.

      Let’s see you provide a documented summary of this event in 2,500 words — so the rest of us can mock the things you didn’t mention.

    2. Larry, you read it again. It’s pretty clear that blame is being put in the police for standing by, not funneling people to the right areas, etc. what the press reported was tolerant, non-violent or justffiably violent counter protesting the evil, hateful alt-right racist scumbags. Blamed it on Trump and then criticized him for pointing out the facts.

      Flush out your headgear bro.

    3. Gute,

      Your comment was total nonsense. Let’s reply the tape.”

      (1) “Blah blah blah the police suck.”

      Too stupid to discuss.

      (2) “Of course the protesters don’t have any responsibility in all this mess.”

      That was not the subject of this post, which was the obvious mis-reporting by the media of the event. Neither the report nor I attempted the larger question of who was “responsible” for this mess. That would take a higher level of research.

      (3) “what the press reported was tolerant, non-violent or justffiably violent counter protesting the evil, hateful alt-right racist scumbags.”

      That was discussed at some length in sections 4 and 5. “About those militia groups (which journalists described as terrifying, perhaps evil).” “The Left attacks the militia.”

      (4) “Blamed it on Trump and then criticized him for pointing out the facts.”

      That was discussed in length (as such things go) in the section “Trump’s first two statements about Charlottesville”.

      (5) “Flush out your headgear bro.”

      If you want something more than 3,000 words, write it yourself. Don’t criticize others for not doing what you are unwilling to do.

  4. “Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans

    I am disgusted that I feel the need to bring this up, because I will be accused of being a racist. But all the groups mentioned are composed exclusively of white people. Repugnant white people yes, but only whites.

    Apparently BLM, the New Black Panthers and all those are not the least bit racist. Total insanity.

    1. Squiggy,

      This was a speech about the Charlottesville riot. Were BLM and the New BP participants? If not, why mention them? The key to an effective speech or article is keep it focused on the topic at hand.

    2. Did you read all I said? I was commenting on the obvious racism of the writet, using valid examples. It was on topic.

    3. Squiggy,

      It is relevant in a broad sense. I asked how was it narrowly relevant to the Charlottesville riot?

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