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Demonstrators parade through Charlottesville during the Unite the Right rally.

What We Saw at Charlottesville

ByAllie Contiphotos byJessica Lehrman

Things spun out of control long before a car drove through a crowd of people.

Demonstrators parade through Charlottesville during the Unite the Right rally.

My photographer and I got to Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Virginia, about half an hour before the Unite the Right was set to begin, but things had already started to spin out of control.

Counterprotestors were hurling paint and ink at the white nationalists. This cop car was collateral damage:

Pepper spray was also being liberally diffused by the combatants, and volunteer medics ran to help people who were screaming in agony:

After the Virginia State Police forced everyone to disperse, the white nationalists marched about a mile to McIntyre Park to plan their next move:

Counterprotestors held homemade signs to greet the white nationalists as they marched down Charlottesville streets with riot cops at their backs:

The racists did not seem deterred by all the people who hated them:

And people didn't clear the streets even when smoke bombs came out:

People from both sides walked around carrying all kinds of weapons, from metal baseball bats with the tips removed to hockey sticks to assault rifles. It was unclear where a skirmish might break out—or when.

Eventually the National Guard was called in to contain the situation:

White nationalists continued to ominously prowl around in the back of trucks, some of them with helmets emblazoned with Pepe the Frog:

Back at McIntyre Park—which had become the alt-right base camp—volunteer medics treated the right-wing extremists who got hurt:

Minutes later, tragedy struck where the counterprotestors had congregated. A Dodge Charger plowed into a crowd, sending people flying and wreaking chaos. One woman died and 19 other people were injured.

Members of the crowd helped those who were hit—and could still walk—get out of the fray. Others held hands and prayed. In the face of something like Saturday, what else could you do?

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