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Here's why everyone is talking about Charlottesville, Va.

On Saturday, Aug. 12, a group of white nationalists gathered to protest the removal of a Confederate symbol in Charlottesville, Va. With counter protesters rallying as well, violence quickly broke out between the two groups.

By definition, white nationalists are "a group of militant whites who espouse white supremacy and advocate enforced racial segregation." This means that they oppose racial equality and operate on the belief that white individuals are superior to nonwhite individuals, according to Southern Poverty Law Center. The group took to Charlottesville to protest the city's decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park, Fox News reports. The statue was erected in 1924, but in recent years has been seen as a symbol of white supremacy causing Virginia officials to vote to remove the statue from the park in February.

At the rally organized by a white nationalist leader, those who disagree with white supremacist beliefs took to Charlottesville to make their voices heard. When violence broke out between the two groups before the rally even started, attendees and Charlottesville police stepped in to break up fights and scuffles.

You also may have heard reports of a man who drove his car into a crowd of counter protesters in the area. He has been arrested and identified as 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr of Ohio. One person, 32-year-old Heather Heyer, died and 19 were injured as a result of his actions. Two Virginia State Patrol troopers also died yesterday when they were patrolling near Charlottesville via helicopter and it crashed in a wooded area.

It's because of these events that Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency. He also condemned the presence of the white nationalists and the violence that took place yesterday by stating, "I have a message for all the white supremacists and Nazis who came into Charlottesville today. Our message is plain and simple: go home. You are not wanted in this great commonwealth. Shame on you. You pretend that you're patriots, but you're anything but... You came here today to hurt people. And you did hurt people. My message is clear: we are stronger than you."

President Donald Trump also responded to the violence during a press conference. You can watch a video of his statements below.

What is your response to the planned rally, the violence and the statements from the governor and the president? Share in the comments below.

Photo credit: Mother Jones

by Sydney Adamson | 8/13/2017
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