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Car Strikes Counter Protesters at White House Nationalist Rally; Police Identifies Driver Who Plowed into Crowd; Aired 8-9p ET
Aired August 12, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: And as we've now learned, a deadly day. It started with serious clashes in the streets of the college town of Charlottesville. Admitted white nationalists and far-right activists fighting with hands and weapons against people who came out to face them and to break up their racist rally.
Several people were hurt in the brawls that broke out before things turned very tragic.
One woman died in this crowd when that car suddenly accelerated and slammed into a group of people protesting against the white nationalists. Several others were hurt. Some of their injuries are life threatening.
We have heard from the president. He mentioned this incident in Virginia from his resort in New Jersey. More on what he said and notably didn't say in a moment. But first, CNN's Brian Todd is in Charlottesville, Virginia, right now. Our White House correspondent Athena Jones is in Bridgewater, New Jersey.
Brian, you first on the ground there. Update us on what police are saying about this deadly crash and set the scene as we head into the evening.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ana, setting the scene here for you at the scene of that crash, we are here near the corner of 4th Street and Water Streets in Charlottesville. Our photojournalist Jeremy Hung is going to zoom in behind me and show you where that car occurred.
You see the police officers up there on 4th Street with that dark colored van pointing toward us. That's a maroon colored Honda van. We believe it's a van. And right behind it is a silver car. Both of those cars were struck in that incident. That is where authorities say a 32-year-old female pedestrian was struck and killed.
You can see officers there still processing the crime scene. They were gathering evidence here earlier. And you've got barricades and police tape up there. So that is the scene of the car strike. Police say that the driver of that vehicle is in custody. They're not giving a name of that person yet.
And some clarification here on the casualties tonight, Ana. We heard from the governor a short time ago that there were a total of three fatalities today, but two of them occurred in a helicopter crash that occurred outside the city center on, an old farm road not too far from the city of Charlottesville but outside the center. So how that's exactly related to today's events, we're not sure. We're gathering more information about the helicopter crash.
But the governor lumped that in with the fatalities -- with the fatality here downtown connected to the protests. So he is saying a total of three fatalities. We do know now two of those are connected to that helicopter crash.
We also have an update for you tonight, Ana, on the injuries. According to city officials and police, four people are in serious condition, five people are a level above that, a level more serious than that, in critical condition. So you've got five in critical condition, four in serious condition, six people in fair condition, and four people listed in good condition tonight. So quite a number of injuries people are dealing with tonight.
They've earlier said they treated about 35 people. So there were a lot of casualties from the actual engagement at the rally and in the fighting outside the venue there and here behind me on 4th Street where that incident occurred.
And as we head toward nightfall, Ana, tensions are kind of at a boil here. Authorities ready for whatever happens, I talked to the city manager a short time ago. He said more than 700 law enforcement officers are going to be deployed on the streets tonight in anticipation of anything happening. So as we head toward nightfall there's still quite a lot of tension here.
CABRERA: And good to see calm at least right now.
Athena, the president has taken some criticism for those who say his response simply -- from those who say it wasn't strong enough, that it's short of being impactful particularly how he hasn't called out these white nationalists for instigating the trouble on the ground there.
What has the president said, not just in his initial statement, but since that?
ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. Well, he's been tweeting the last couple of hours his condolences to the Virginia State Police who were killed in that helicopter crash and also the young woman who was killed when that car plowed through the crowd at the counterdemonstration earlier today.
But let's play some of what he had to say several hours ago when he appeared before the cameras to comment on what's been going on in Charlottesville.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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, it's been going on for a long, long time. (END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: And a lot of people have taken issue with the phrase "on many sides," on many sides, which we heard the president say there, saying that he's equating the people who've been marching carrying confederate flags and Nazi emblems, wearing Nazi arm bands, some of them also carrying Trump signs and wearing "Make America Great Again" hats.
[20:05:07] People are saying he is equating those folks with people who are counter demonstrating, who were protesting the hate that these white nationalists were spewing. These were people who have been screaming racial epithets.
And I asked a White House official or several White House officials just what he meant when he said "on many sides." This is what I was told. The official said, "The president was condemning hatred, bigotry and violence from all sources and all sides. There was violence between protesters and counter-protesters today." So they are doubling down on this idea that many people are to blame here, that both sides are to blame.
Another thing the president said that was interesting during those remarks is that he said we want to -- we want to straighten out the situation in Charlottesville and we also want to study it and see what we're doing wrong as a country where things like this can happen.
Well, what a lot of folks have noted is that the president at no point has condemned the white nationalists who organized the group last night, that stormed the campus of the University of Virginia carrying torches, a scene that will be reminiscent of many of these kinds of violent scenes you saw in the post-Reconstruction South. And he also hasn't criticized the white nationalists who organized the demonstration today.
And remember, Ana, this is a president who has had a lot of negative things to say about a long list of people, whether it's his rival -- former rival, Hillary Clinton, or fellow Republicans, like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, his own attorney general, Jeff Sessions. He's called the press, the media, the enemy of the people, and yet he has not said a negative word about white nationalists or white nationalism. So far I haven't heard back from any White House about where the president stands on white nationalists and white nationalism -- Ana.
CABRERA: Athena Jones, Brian Todd, thank you both.
Now some including Republican lawmakers have been very critical of the president for not specifically condemning white nationalism. As Athena was just discussing, Republican Senator Cory Gardener tweeted this.
He says, "Mr. President, we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacist and this was domestic terrorism."
And Republican congresswoman from Florida, tweeting, quote, "White supremacists, neo-Nazis and anti-Semites are the antithesis of our American values. There are no other sides to hatred and bigotry."
Joining us, Washington bureau chief for the "Chicago Sun-Times," Lynn Sweet, CNN political commentator and former national press secretary for the Bernie Sanders campaign, Symone Sanders, and CNN political commentator, former Republican congressman, Jack Kingston, back with us as well.
Lynn, words matter but I want to look at this from all different sides as much as possible. Is it possible people are making too much of the fact the president did not say the words white nationalism?
LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: No, Ana, it's not. And I think this is a very important point because even though there were clashes today and fights broke out, yes, between the protesters and the counter-protesters, let's look at the core reason you had a rally of white nationalists.
This is one of the biggest gathering of white supremists in years. That alone would have been word a condemnation of President Trump, even without the violence that took place. That's what I think is the core issue here when we talk about this false equivalency of saying there are many to blame on it. That is not the case. Let's keep our eye on what the main issue is that this was a white extremists rally and white supremist values are not the values of -- or the values that should be called out by the president of the United States and by everyone.
CABRERA: Symone, what kind of opportunity is this for the president to reach out beyond his base and try to bring more people under this umbrella as the president of the whole country?
SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think this is a real opportunity for President Trump to show us that he is actually willing and wanting to lead us all, that he's not just worried about his base and his poll numbers with his base, but he's actually concerned with the well-being of the American people.
Look, as a press person, as a communications person who has worked for many, many principals, I know when you've got a press conference scheduled and you want something to go out, but if something happens, if there is breaking news, you have to be able to pivot. And today, we did not see this White House pivot really well.
We saw him come out with a statement at the top that was not a very strong statement. It was extremely weak. And then pivot to talking about how great America is, quote-unquote, "doing." Well, for the folks in Charlottesville, Virginia, tonight, I don't think they think America is doing really well. For people all across the country right now that are dealing with this same kind of terror in their communities, I don't think they feel America is on the up.
CABRERA: Jack, the president campaigned on telling it like it is, not being politically correct. He said he wouldn't be afraid to use terms like radical Islamic extremism.
Why does it appear he's holding punches now? Why not call white nationalism what it is? Why not condemn the KKK?
[20:10:07] JACK KINGSTON (R), FORMER GEORGE CONGRESSMAN: Well, I don't think he is. If you go back to November, November 21st, there was an alt-right white people's conference or some silly thing, not so silly, but something --
CABRERA: Why are we backing up? It's happening today, Jack.
KINGSTON: Because I want to answer your question. And he did condemn white racism there, and he did it again in January. And I want to make sure people understand he's not afraid to call people white supremacists. He's not avoiding that. He has not said it in the last --
SANDERS: When did he say it, Jack? When did he say it?
KINGSTON: November 12th, 2016 when there was a white people conference, which, by the way, was the same guy was there today, somebody guy named Spencer. I'm not sure who the guy is --
CABRERA: Richard Spencer.
KINGSTON: Richard Spencer. And so the point being is, you can't just say, oh, the president is afraid of the term. He hasn't used it in the last six, eight hours but what he did say is he condemned the bigotry, he condemned the hatred, and he condemned the violence on @realdonaldtrump there were nine tweets just on this. So I mean, you know --
SWEET: May I just jump in here? Please?
CABRERA: Go ahead, Lynn.
SWEET: I do think with sensitivity, Jack, to your position, And I know it comes from your heart when you speak, this was a rally organized by white supremacists. This was the issue. This was not some gathering that turned bad or some protests that came out of the blue. You can't ignore how these events today came about. That's why it would have been important for President Trump to speak out at the most or at the least, not blame many sides.
SANDERS: Well, I would say one more thing to add to that point. Someone is now dead. I was in New Orleans last night in LBJ and I was looking on Twitter at -- I saw people joking about how these were kids with tiki torches. And fast forward 24 hours later, somebody is dead. Tonight is going to be a really important night in Charlottesville. What's going to happen tomorrow? There are a number of people who are injured. Words matter. Just folks talking about the fact --
KINGSTON: OK. Let me just say this. If I could agree with you, OK, the president should use the word white supremacists, but don't you think that you and I as liberals and conservatives and Democrats and Republicans should be able to move past that and say, what are we going to do about -- SANDERS: Jack Kingston, excuse me. Did we should be able to move
past white supremacists? Never forget.
KINGSTON: The fact that the president has (INAUDIBLE), Symone. The fact that the president --
CABRERA: Hold on, Simone. Let Jack finish then we'll let you respond.
SANDERS: Wait --
KINGSTON: The fact that the president --
SANDERS: I don't understand --
KINGSTON: Symone, come on --
CABRERA: Hold on, one at a time. One at a time. Jack first, then Symone.
KINGSTON: The fact that the president hasn't used the term white supremacist we as a people should be able to get past it, and say maybe he will talk about it later on. He's going to have two press conferences this week. Why not the rest, in the meantime, all of us pull together and try to address this.
Terry McAuliffe's words were very good. You pointed out Marco Rubio's were very good. I think most politicians and most leaders have weighed in condemning this. What are we doing besides blaming this on the president because his statement wasn't good enough for everybody. I think we should look at ourselves, what can we do to stop this violence across the land?
CABRERA: The president could have a mulligan, couldn't he? I mean, he's had plenty of opportunities to put out another statement. Nobody's preventing him from doing that, Jack.
SWEET: And he had all day to do that.
SANDERS: Let me be really clear because I don't want to hear anything else Jack Kingston has to say specifically about moving past white supremacy. America cannot move on --
KINGSTON: That's not what I said, Symone. I know that --
SANDERS: You did. America --
CABRERA: Hold on, Jack. Let Symone make her comment. Jack -- SANDERS: Ana, he specifically noted why can we not move past this?
KINGSTON: The fact that he did not --
CABRERA: Hey, Jack, hold on. Jack, hold on. Symone, go ahead.
SANDERS: We cannot move past white supremacy in America because America has yet to reckon with the white supremacy.
KINGSTON: I agree with you, Symone. And I will not --
SANDERS: People have died. It is extremely important that folks understand that there are people in this country who literally feel scared to leave their homes every day, not just people of color. LGBTQ Americans. There are a lot of folks.
KINGSTON: And police officers, I must say, whose lives have been singled out. But Symone, I just want to make that you and I are clear.
SANDERS: I would just love if we could -- I just really want the one man not -- I think I'm being very clear. I think it's you who are not clear.
KINGSTON: Yes, but I think I was clear when I said we're going to get beyond the fact that the president didn't use two words.
SANDERS: To understand that this is more than just rhetoric. That these are people's lives. Furthermore that this march, this protest, this white supremacist gathering, was put together because folks are upset, literally upset that as a vice mayor in Charlottesville saying we need to remove this monument of the confederacy, and not only the statue of Robert E. Lee, we need to change the name of some of these parks because it's offensive to folks. Because we need to -- we need to actually reckon with our history in America.
[20:15:05] That is what this is actually about. And so no, we can't move past it. If you'd like to talk about something else, let's talk about the fact --
KINGSTON: Symone, Symone --
SANDERS: - Let's talk about that the confederacy --
KINGSTON: I think it's silly to try and say that that's what I was saying. It's so inaccurate.
SANDERS: It's absolutely not true, and I'm actually offended.
KINGSTON: It is so inaccurate.
SANDERS: I'm actually offended that you are unable to see my perspective.
KINGSTON: I am offended that you're trying to put words in my mouth.
CABRERA: All right, guys. I know that this is a conversation you want to continue. We've got to squeeze in another break. Got to leave it there.
Jack, Lynn, Symone, thank you all. We'll be right back.
CABRERA: Our breaking news today, a deadly violence in Virginia, a car ramming a crowd of counter protesters at a white nationalists rally in Charlottesville. One woman was killed, dozens injured. The driver is now in custody.
Earlier white nationalists clutching torches and confederate flags marched through this college town. These images really paint the picture of the tension on the ground that turned violent. Virginia's governor even declared a state of emergency.
[20:20:02] Today's rally triggered by plans to remove a statute of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from a park there.
I want to bring in an expert on white nationalist groups, sociologist Randy Blazak.
Randy, I want to get your take. You've studied hate groups and white nationalist movement for decades I know. What do you think is driving this movement right now?
RANDY BLAZAK, SOCIOLOGY PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF OREGON: Well, what we're seeing is this new part of the white supremacists movement connected to alt-right that have been kind of in the shadows for the last eight years. And they are out and it's like a snowball that's just been building and building and building. And it seems to be kind of an unstoppable force. And certainly that's how they see themselves. They see themselves as a part of a second American revolution to take the country back. And so I think we're going to be seeing a lot more of this as we go on.
CABRERA: You grew up in the south and met with white nationalists. Are there common characteristics you've noticed in people who spent years in these groups? Any common life experiences?
BLAZAK: Sure, sure. I mean, many of them -- it's a complex phenomenon but many of them see the world changing too fast. They don't know how to process the changes in our demographics, the change in sexual identity, the change in our economy. I mean, these are things that are really transforming the country at a quick pace and they are a little bit out of sorts. So they have this notion of going back. They want to take the country back or make the country great again.
It's always about going back to something where they think the world makes sense. And so there's that push back, and the push back happens on the playground, on bullying against kids who are immigrants or Muslims. And it happens in the political spectrum but then it happens sort of on the streets where the alt-right really started to get their megaphone and gets out and gets their message heard by a lot of people including through the media.
CABRERA: We've been talking about how the president reacted to the violence. He strongly condemned the hatred and bigotry on display. His opponents and Republicans, too, are ripping apart some of those comments today.
No matter where one lands on the political spectrum, Randy, is there really a correct or incorrect way to talk about these hate groups?
BLAZAK: Well, there is. I mean, the fact is that they are responding to the changes, but the changes are about creating a society that's more just and more equal. And for those folks some of that feels like oppression. And so it's not fair to equate both sides of the debate as equally invested in some type of dominant narrative or that, you know, that they're equally violent.
There is a group that is trying to turn back the clock. And I think the problem is when we see those as two sort of sides of the same coin, the antifascists and the fascists are just sort of locked in this moral combat. But there's a larger and historical context by which this is happening, and I think the alt-right is trying to hijack that conversation about who is the victim in American history, and for them it's white men and that's just not the reality.
CABRERA: So if you were President Trump's speech writer today, what would be the very first line, the first words out of the president's mouth regarding the situation in Charlottesville if you were to advise that?
BLAZAK: I think it's acknowledging the importance much diversity in this country, the fact that we are stronger together. And then we do want to come together, it's going to take people acknowledging the history of oppression and racism that we have before we even take the next step. Sort of acknowledging that truth is key to the whole thing.
CABRERA: What do you think he could have done differently then? Because he did speak of unity, he did speak of condemning hatred, bigotry, violence. Do you think that there's something he could have said to send a more poignant message to these groups?
BLAZAK: Sure. Sure. And it's acknowledging the experience of those people who have experienced racism that it's not an even playing field. And some people think that because we had a black president the problem of racism is just the thing of the past. The fact it happens every day in this country. You have to acknowledge the experience of those people including those people who are having issues with law enforcement or job discrimination or housing discrimination, or just again on the playground. You have to acknowledge the real lived pain and trauma of those folks to make a real call for unity because if you don't do that, it just looks like a lot of dog and pony show.
CABRERA: All right. Randy Blazak, we appreciate your time and your thoughts. Thank you.
We've heard from President Trump. Moments ago former President Obama weighed in on what unfolded today in Charlottesville. We'll have that for you right after this. Stay with us.
[20:29:08] CABRERA: Former president Obama now responding to the deadly clashes between white nationalists and counter protesters in Virginia. The president -- former president tweeting this following Nelson Mandela quote. "No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate. And if they can learn to hate they can be taught to love for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite."
President Trump already condemned the violence earlier today as well. Here's part of his remarks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: 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. It's been going on for a long, long time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[20:30:04] CABRERA: Joining us to weigh in on the president's response to one of the first major domestic events of his presidency, CNN presidential historian Douglas Brinkley.
Douglas, what do you make of the different responses from President Trump and former President Obama?
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: President Obama who just adores Nelson Mandela, was trying to touch our hearts, talk about love, talk about loss. I thought Donald Trump today as president had a blown opportunity. I think he bombed out.
I say that because he carries a burden on him. He originated the birther movement against President Obama. He was the leading voice of that kind of hatred. And so he's empowered and enabled white supremacists and the KKK, neo-Nazis. So this was an opportunity for him to show that he doesn't want to traffic in hate.
And instead, he did a very limp weak-wristed kind of comment instead of really going after the hate crimes that took place. I mean, we are now dealing with Trump that we've had a doubling of racist incidents since Donald Trump has become president according to Southern Poverty Law.
CABRERA: So do you think that the bar is actually higher for this president in how he responds to an incident like this because of his past and those comments you mentioned? BRINKLEY: Exactly. When you run a campaign about the border wall and
deportation and mocking Muslims and doing a travel ban that was illegal and originally not distancing himself from David Duke because he wanted white racists votes in the south. It comes with a cost and yet he had an opportunity today to really speak in a way that could have impressed people.
Instead, even people like Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, on and on, feeling very unsatisfied with President Trump's response. He didn't work to heal us at all. He just sort of seemed to dial it in.
CABRERA: Right. The Republicans who have come out and basically condemned what the president said, Cory Gardener, Orrin Hatch, the list does go on and on.
Now President Ronald Reagan was endorsed by the KKK back in the '80s. He responded by saying this, quote, "The politics of racial hatred and religious bigotry practiced by the Klan and others have no place in this country and are destructive of the values for which America has always stood."
I'm curious how that response was received then?
BRINKLEY: Well, I'm glad you brought up the Reagan quote. That's how you respond to something like what we saw in Charlottesville. With that kind of -- you don't water it down because you don't want to alienate your base. And that was feeling people got from Donald Trump today. You know, he talked about on many sides, on many sides. He said it twice. When it kind of equalized it as if it was a food fight between left and right when these were people that went on to a great university, had torch-lit parades, wreaked havoc there.
And as we speak, there are people in critical condition whose names were not -- we don't know yet. And so he -- you know, Barack Obama, we called him the mourner-in-chief. And right now we haven't felt that kind of passion and introspection encouraged from President Trump.
CABRERA: And yet this president has gone after political foes, members of his own party, even members of his own Cabinet calling them losers, cry babies, pathetic, cowards, quitters. So in that sense is it surprising that he doesn't go after the KKK and white nationalists in the same way?
BRINKLEY: It's abhorrent, but I don't think it's surprising. He's seemed never wanted to cross swords with the alt-right. They promote this kind of hate speech. And he -- it feels this is part of that -- maybe it's 15 percent, 10 percent of his base that adheres to a kind of neo-confederate line that likes the confederate flag, that celebrates Robert E. Lee, and he sees those as white votes that he won last time with and he's going to need again so he tends to become very weak tea, water things down so as not to make enemies with that kind of hate community.
CABRERA: Important to note that the president did not invent white nationalism. The KKK has been around for decades. But do you think he has played a role in emboldening them?
BRINKLEY: I think the word I would use is enabler. He's enabling them. It's -- you know, he's trying to say it's OK to go into these white heritage spasms. It's OK to -- with a nod and a wink to do dog whistles or wave a confederate flag.
[20:35:03] He's not ardent about it. And why it's odd is if he's anything, he's one of our most ardent president. He's denouncing everybody, name calling even his own Cabinet every day. But for some reason Vladimir Putin and white supremacists get the kid-glove treatment from President Trump. And I find it disconcerting for -- and many Republicans, the senators, governors, don't like that Trump didn't step up.
He has a little bit of time perhaps for the morning shows tomorrow or something to put something stronger on the line out there denouncing these white supremacist hate crime, but we'll see.
CABRERA: All right. Thank you so much, Doug Brinkley, for coming on and providing that perspective and some historical context for us. We appreciate it.
And now we have some news just in as we continue to follow the breaking news story out of Charlottesville, Virginia. CNN has not confirmed James Alex Fields Jr., 20 years old, is the man arrested for driving into that crowd of people. He was booked into jail this afternoon, charged with one count of second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding, and one count of failure to stop, an accident resulting in a death.
Now we've also learned he is a white male. He is being held in the booking area of the facility. Still no word exactly on his motive. As we will work to get more information we're going to take a quick break and be back in just a moment.
[20:40:36] CABRERA: Back to our breaking news. Police have just confirmed the suspect in today's deadly car attack in Charlottesville, Virginia. 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. was booked in the crash that killed one woman and injured several others.
Earlier today Virginia authorities called an emotional press conference condemning the violence today. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), VIRGINIA: Today was a very sad day for our great commonwealth, in the city of Charlottesville. We know there's now three fatalities today in addition to many individuals who have been hurt.
But let me start off first by thanking all of our law enforcement officials. This could have been a much worse day today.
And I have a message to all the white supremacists and the Nazis who came in to Charlottesville today. Our message is plain and simple. Go home. You are not wanted in this great commonwealth.
MAYOR MICHAEL SIGNER, CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA: This tide of hatred and of intolerance and of bigotry that has come to us and that has marched down with torches the lawn of one of the founders of democracy, it is brought here by outsiders and it's brought here by people who belong in the trash heap of history with these ideas.
They're going in be the trash heap of history. This day will not define us. We will define this day by the story that we continue to tell tomorrow and the tomorrow after that, the week after that, and the year after that.
There is a very sad and regrettable coarseness in our politics that we've all seen too much of today. Our opponents have become our enemies. Debate has become intimidation.
What democracy is about and we know this here because we're the birthplace of democracy, it's about deliberation, it's about action, it's about progress, it's about working together and it's about at the end of the day if you disagree with somebody, you don't try to take them down. You agree to move forward.
These folks do not want that. They do not agree with the rules of democracy and they are on the losing side of history.
MAURICE JONES, CITY MANAGER, CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA: In the days and the weeks to come, our city will have many conversations in city hall and community centers, in our houses of worship, over our fences, and at our dinner tables.
I would ask that in addition to sharing our grief and looking back at this difficult and extraordinary summer that we look forward. I would ask that we would consider the question of who we are as a city and who we wish to be.
I would ask that we each seek opportunities to seek people who share our home here in Charlottesville, but who are outside of our circles. I would ask that we work to build meaningful relationships and foster strong connections.
CHIEF AL THOMAS, CHARLOTTESVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT: The premeditated violence that our community experienced today was completely unacceptable. This situation escalated rapidly into violence and we had no choice but to deploy additional personnel in front of Virginia State Police, the Virginia National Guard to help disperse the crowd and move people safely through the streets.
None of the injuries sustained today were due to engagement with law enforcement. As of late this afternoon, there have been at least 35 people treated for injuries by city personnel. 14 people have been treated for injuries resulting from individual engagements, non- pedestrians were treated for injuries in a three-vehicle crash at the intersection of Fourth Street and Water Street here in downtown Charlottesville. Their injuries range from life-threatening to minor.
The crash also claimed the life of a 32-year-old female pedestrian at the intersection as she was crossing the street. We're still in the process of notifying her next of kin so we will not be releasing her information until that takes place as a courtesy to the family.
The suspect vehicle that left the scene of the crash was located moments later, and the male driver is in custody with charges pending. We are currently treating this as a criminal homicide investigation.
Also want to extend my appreciation to the many individuals who witnessed the crash for helping us by providing statements, photos, and video evidence. Again, the crash remains under investigation.
So where do we go from here? For right now, we're encouraging people to return home. Please let our city of Charlottesville, our home, start to recover from this.
[20:45:06] What the world saw today is not the place Charlottesville is. We love our city. Let us heal. This is not our story. Outsiders do not tell our story. We will tell our own story.
As is commonplace, we will be reviewing the events of the day over the next weeks and months. We are committed to providing our residents with a strong, safe city to live in, and be partners in our community. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Again, at least one person killed in the violence today in Charlottesville, Virginia. 35 others injured. At least five of those injured in critical condition at last check.
We'll take a quick and be right back.
[20:50:18] CABRERA: Back to our breaking news. Police just confirmed the suspect in today's deadly car attack in Charlottesville, Virginia, 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. was booked in this crash that killed one woman and injured almost two dozen others.
CNN's Brian Todd is joining us now by phone.
Brian, what more are you learning?
TODD (via phone): Well, Ana, we got this information a short time ago from Martin Kumer, he's the superintendent of the Albermarle- Charlottesville County Regional Jail. He's the one who firmed to us that the man you just names, James Alex Fields, Jr., 20 years old, from Maumee, Ohio, is the suspect in this crash.
He was booked into jail this afternoon. He is charged with one count of second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and one count of failure to stop in an accident resulting in a death.
He is described as a 20-year-old white male from Maumee, Ohio. Again, 20-year-old James Alex Fields is booked into the local jail. He was booked there into the regional jail this afternoon. That's according to Martin Kumer, the superintendent of the Albermarle County Regional Jail.
So, Ana, we do have a suspect. You know, witness accounts, according to people who talked to CNN who witnessed this accident say it was just horrific. That he just sped at very, very high speed into this section of protesters walking down 4th Street here in Charlottesville, struck several pedestrians, struck a car which then rammed into another vehicle, and you had the one person killed, a 32-year-old female pedestrian. Her name has not been released yet.
We have also just learned the names of two other people killed related to the protest. These are two Virginia state troopers killed in a helicopter crash. They're named as Jay Cohen and Trooper Burke Bates. And we believe Burke Bates was the pilot of the helicopter.
Now that crashed some miles away from the city this afternoon. Just getting those two names into CNN now, the troopers who perished in the helicopter crash this afternoon -- Ana.
CABRERA: Brian, we know there have been great anticipation for what would happen as night fell. The governor declaring a state of emergency for that area. And I'm curious if there's any kind of curfew in place.
TODD: We're told, Ana, that the police chief of Charlottesville, Al Thomas, has been granted the authority to issue a curfew but that as of now he's not done it yet. Things are fairly quiet here in Charlottesville tonight, but it is still relatively early in the evening. So we're just kind much monitoring things here on the streets of Charlottesville as we go, and -- but apparently the police chief, Al Thomas, does have the authority to issue a curfew but has not done so at this moment.
CABRERA: Well, that's good news if that's not needed at this point.
Brian Todd, we appreciate your time. Thanks for that. We'll be right back.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN, the most trusted name in news.
[20:57:15] CABRERA: Recapping our breaking news we've been following for the last several hours out of Charlottesville, Virginia, where there were violent clashes that turned deadly today. It all began with a group of white supremacists, Nazis who gathered around a confederate monument there, a confederate statue that is expected to be torn down in this city. And then there was a counter protest to confront those Nazis, those people who have gathered.
And in the middle of that there was a scuffle. That scuffle broke out, people separated and then a car plowed into a crowd of the counter protesters. At least one person was killed.
Here is what two men who witnessed that horrific car crash told us in Charlottesville, Virginia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRENNAN GILMORE, EYEWITNESS: The car reversed very fast, back up the street as you can see in the video. So we were still, you know, sort of in the scene and jumped out to get around the corner of this barrier of this building, and the car flew by and immediately, you know, there were victims started coming out. My friend ran after the car. I gave first aid to a lady that had come out from the scene and, yes, that's basically what happened. The car disappeared after that.
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Were you able to get a look at the driver as he sped by you?
CHRIS MAHONY, EYEWITNESS: No, the car had tinted windows, so it was -- it was difficult to see in. So I was -- I was more looking, is this person going to come directly towards me? So I was looking to get out of the way of the car, right, as it came back. When it came pasted we didn't see. I just saw it plow, like Brennan said, into the group of protesters. And I thought, wow, this is clearly like a terrorist incident.
GILMORE: I got a glimpse of the driver. I was standing about, you know, just a few feet from him as he came back. A white male. Appeared to have close-cropped hair but it was tinted windows so I didn't get a very good look at him.
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CABRERA: That's going to do it for me. John Berman picks up, CNN's special live coverage of the terror in Virginia right now.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN BREAKING NEWS.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. I'm John Berman. This is CNN's special live coverage of the violence in Virginia, domestic terror. We have our eyes on the streets of Charlottesville, home of the University of Virginia, the site of rage today, of hate and death.
The question right now is will it flare again? Police are ready. We are waiting to see if the white supremacists and neo-Nazis that sparked the violence will march again. This as we're getting new information in the identity of a driver believed to have driven his car into a crowd of counter protesters.
Earlier, there were furious clashes between groups of the nationalists and Nazis and people who turned out to counter their message of hate. Several people were hurt in these brawls. Then this.