Anger boiled over at the first Charlottesville City Council meeting since a white nationalist rally in the city descended into violent chaos, with some residents screaming and cursing at councilors Monday night and calling for their resignations.
After the residents of Charlottesville were allowed to voice their frustrations with the way city officials handled the event, the council unanimously voted to take the first steps to remove a statue of the Confederate general Stonewall Jackson, The Daily Progress reported.
The council also voted to cover both the statues of Jackson and Robert E. Lee with black fabric to mourn Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal who died after a car allegedly driven by James Alex Fields Jr., plowed through a crowd of counter-protesters on Aug. 12.
On Monday, scores of people packed the council’s chambers, and Mayor Mike Signer was interrupted by shouting several times in the first few minutes of the meeting.
As tensions escalated, the meeting was halted. Live video showed protesters standing on a dais with a sign that said, “Blood on your hands.”
At one point, the crowd chanted, “Signer must go.”
After talking with members of the crowd, Councilor Wes Bellamy said the council would drop its agenda and focus on the crowd’s concerns, the newspaper reported.
Speakers, some yelling and hurling profanities, then took turns addressing the council, some expressing frustration that leaders had granted a permit for the Aug. 12 rally that had turned violent.
Others criticized the police response to the event, which drew hundreds of white nationalists and other counter-protesters.
The two sides clashed violently in the street that day, largely uninterrupted by authorities, until the event was declared an unlawful assembly and the crowd was forced to disperse.
Later, a car rammed into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing Heyer and injuring 19 others.
The death toll for the day climbed to three when a helicopter that had been monitoring the event and assisting with the governor’s motorcade crashed, killing two state troopers.
The event dubbed “Unite the Right” was sparked by the city’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Police removed three people from the meeting Monday and issued summonses for disorderly conduct, the New York Times reported.
Elsewhere in Charlottesville, dozens of students rallied Monday night at the University of Virginia in rejection of the violence. Video of the event streamed by the newspaper on social media showed students marching on the stately grounds of Virginia’s flagship public university.
The event was billed as a “reclaim our grounds” rally and organizers said it was held to highlight the advances made at the university to end racism and discrimination in recent decades.
The organizers also said via social media that they were seeking to send a message to the university leadership that more advances were still needed.