Charlottesville police chief Al Thomas, following a weekend of violence in which racist neo-Nazis losers clashed with communist Antifa and Black Lives Matter agitators, told reporters on Monday that he had no regrets about the way police handled what he referred to several times as an “alt-right rally,” other than the tragic loss of life that ensued.
“We were hoping for a peaceful event,” Thomas told reporters, admitting that no officers were in riot gear until things had already gotten out of control.
Thomas said that police had a plan to keep the groups separated but seemed surprised that the groups didn’t follow the script.
“We did make attempts to keep the two sides separate, however, we can’t control which side someone enters the park,” he argued. “We had agreements and worked out a security plan to bring the groups in and separate entrances, again, they decided to change the plan and entered the park in different directions,” he explained.
“We were certainly not intimidated by the firepower of the alt-right, however, it was prudent to make sure that officers were equipped to go out and deal directly with the violence at hand,” he said. “Originally, we had our officers out in their everyday uniform — we were hoping for a peaceful event. We urged leaders from both sides to engage in a non-violent demonstration. Once the violence erupted, once the plan was altered, we had to quickly transition our officers into their protective gear,” he stated.
Charlottesville police chief Al Thomas then explained that only after the protests were officially declared as an unlawful assembly was riot gear requested. But at that point, it was obviously much too late.
FOX News’ reporter Doug McElway, who was on the scene during the anarchy and mayhem, reported that police were ordered to stand down because the area was deemed unsafe for them.
When asked by a reporter at today’s press conference about a policeman saying that they were ordered to stand down, Al Thomas flatly denied it.
“I’d like to know who that officer is who allegedly made those remarks — that is simply not true,” he argued.
“Racism is evil — and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans,” President Trump said in a statement on Monday, after receiving considerable heat for not specifically calling out the Nazi groups by name over the weekend.
But even the Charlottesville police chief admitted that there were “both sides” committing the violence.