Several bouts of violence broke out at a white supremacist rally in Virginia Saturday as demonstrators clashed with counterprotesters in the streets surrounding the park where the rally was held.
Video of the incidents showed armor-clad, shield-carrying demonstrators trading punches with similarly armed counterprotesters as they marched in the city of Charlottesville.
Several large skirmishes broke out before police eventually declared the gathering an unlawful assembly and began clearing demonstrators from the area.
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe said on Twitter he declared a state of emergency “to aid state response to violence at alt-right rally in Charlottesville.”
“The acts and rhetoric in Charlottesville over past 24 hours are unacceptable and must stop. A right to speech is not a right to violence,” he wrote in a post on Twitter.
The gathering at the University in Virginia, dubbed the “Unite the Right” rally, previously prompted the state’s governor to warn people to stay away from the campus.
A smaller group of demonstrators also rallied Friday night, marching through the campus carrying tiki torches and shouting slogans like “white lives matter,” in preparation for the larger Saturday event.
As they marched Friday the group of white marchers encountered a group of counterprotesters and a small scuffle ensued. A chemical irritant was sprayed into the crowd and police were able to break up the clash. At least one person was arrested and a few people were treated for minor injuries.
The larger rally Saturday was expected to draw crowds of 2,000 to 6,000 people who are upset about the planned removal of a statue commemorating the memory of Confederate Civil War General Robert E. Lee.
IN PHOTOS: Virginia City Rocked by White Nationalist Protests