While authorities spoke of being caught off guard Homeland Security had warned of a violent uprising in Virginia.
It has been a vitriolic debate for weeks as to whether it is fair and/or responsible of anyone, from the President on down, to imply that Antifa hooligans are a violent contingent of counter-protesters. Accusers say this either distracts away from Nazi offenses (somehow) or is used to indicate sympathy for white supremacists (shut-up with this, already).
All the while it turns out government agencies have long held this exact position. Politico has come into possession of a document that shows the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) not only recognize this threat from Antifa, it issued a specific warning about the August 12 demonstration to state and local authorities. This means when the clash erupted, and led to injuries and one death, the questions about the lack of police control of the situation need to be asked anew.
Not only should there be a focus placed on the police activities that day but the Mayor of Charlottesville, Michael Signer, and Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe are also needing to provide answers for the lack of proper preparation for the event.
The Department of Homeland Security issued a confidential warning to law enforcement authorities three days before the deadly Aug. 12 Charlottesville protest rally, saying that an escalating series of clashes had created a powder keg that would likely make the event “among the most violent to date” between white supremacists and anarchists.
The Aug. 9 report by the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis was done in coordination with local, state and federal authorities at the Virginia Fusion Center. It stated that white supremacists and anti-fascist “Antifa” extremists had clashed twice before in Charlottesville, at a white nationalist rally on May 13 and a Ku Klux Klan gathering July 7. At each event, “anarchist extremists” attacked protesters who had been issued permits, leading to fights, injuries, arrests and at least two felony charges of assault and battery.
Following the tragedy that Saturday, when a white supremacist drove his car into a crowd of protesters injuring at least 19 and killing one, local authorities were criticised strongly. Questions were hurled about the lack of preparedness by police that weekend. Among the complaints were the low number of law enforcement on the streets, the lack of riot gear, and the failure to separate and contain the two factions on location.
While the automobile attack garnered most of the media coverage what was lost in the outrage was the numerous skirmishes that erupted between the two sides prior. A number of violent outbreaks between supremacists and Antifa took place, as both sides had prepared for conflict that day. This was something accurately predicted in the DHS briefing. Based on the results it also appears to be something not taken seriously enough by McAuliffe, Signer, and the police agencies. In the days following the melee both the Governor and Mayor defended their preparations, despite the results.
What should bring in even more focus upon Governor McAuliffe was his willingness to engage in the controversy over President Trump’s comments regarding the violent uprising. He joined the chorus of those deriding Trump for suggesting there was blame to be leveled towards the two groups in Virginia that Saturday.
“This was not ‘both sides.’ ” declared McAuliffe, despite the early warning from DHS that in fact it was exactly a “both sides” scenario. “We need real leadership, starting with our president,” McAuliffe wrote. “Leaders from every corner of this nation and every partisan point of view have denounced these people and their acts in plain terms without hesitation or dissembling. The American people need the same from their president and we need it now.”
This is a particularly grating comment for him to make, now that it has been revealed that he was apprised of this very reality, in advance of the violence that weekend. McAuliffe knew ahead, was told specifically of Antifa’s violent intentions, and those intentions played out to disastrous results. For him to engage in partisanship following his own neglectful inaction should become actionable.