Story and photos by: Tyler Brock
“The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.” – Albert Einstein
Often times when we go in to situations as journalist we often don’t get a clear picture but rather are left with more questions than answers. That pretty much sums up my weekend. On Saturday as Charlottesville Virginia was being turned into a war zone; I was coming home from a very nice week with family at the beach. During this time I made it a point to distance myself from the news and spend time with my family. However, while unraveling at home I saw the turmoil that had gripped Charlottesville. After talking with colleagues of mine and my wife I decided that early Sunday morning I would head north to ground zero.
Now all I had to go on was that the town talked about removing a statue, a statue of General Robert E. Lee, which was part of American Confederate history and culture. I also knew about Heather Heyer and the two state troopers that had lost their lives; in addition to these deaths were also the 19 injured. Though, the part that I was unclear was the groups that were involved and how this caused such a fuss when the President made the statement regarding “many sides.”
I arrived in Charlottesville at 8:00 AM. It was hard to believe that this University of Virginia town was the battlefield for so much dismay. Granted there were streets marked off, especially the road that led to Grace Park where the statue resided. In contrast to the day before people were out carrying on as if nothing happened. Dog walkers, families with young children, and friends having a Sunday morning cup of coffee; the sounds of birds chirping, children laughing took the place of hatred remarks that filled these very same streets the day before. It was difficult to imagine that the night before Charlottesville was under a state of emergency.
Nonetheless, the lives that were lost the day before were not forgotten. At the intersection of “East Water Street” and “Fourth Street South East,” the location where James Alex Fields drove his Dodge Charger through a crowd killing Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others, flowers and letters were being placed in remembrance of the death that took place in Charlottesville. Resting on a doorway that faced into the narrow street were a pair of glasses that one could clearly see that one of the glass components was broken. A somber reminder of what happened on August 12, 2017 in the town of the UVA Cavaliers.
After a quick lunch break I found myself at the City Hall, in a crowd of TV journalist and photojournalist, not knowing what was going on. I was shocked at the profanity and hatred that was being shouted at this man speaking; so much to the point where I didn’t hear anything he had to say. After sometime one man started a chain reaction that sent the manic crowd after this man that I later found out was Jason Kessler who has taken the role of the White Supremacists spoke person. After punches were thrown Kessler dodged back and forth while running around the building, though a young woman tackled him, at this time police in riot gear apprehended him and escorted him to his car. During which the opposing crowd had a stand off with police and tensions rose, however, there was hardly any force used to control the crowd.
As the day progressed tensions died down and people kept returning to the memorial at East Market Street. In fact, later that evening there was a candle lit vigil for Heather. Many came out including much of the law enforcement and ministers within the community. Many spoke, sang, prayed and cried, there was a lot of emotion. Though, as the candle flames slowly faded so did the crowds and things quickly went back in motion in Charlottesville Virginia. Nonetheless, America will not forget the weekend where mayhem took over the streets of Charlottesville.