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Charlottesville Leaders Condemn Torchlight Demonstration at Lee Park

Posted: Updated: May 26, 2017 07:49 PM
group at Lee Park group at Lee Park
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

Across the board, Charlottesville leaders are condemning Saturday night's torchlight demonstration in Lee Park by a group opposed to the removal of Confederate statues.

Protesters gathered with torches fired up to show their opposition to Charlottesville City Council's vote to remove the statue of confederate General Robert E. Lee.

"I thought it was terrible. It was a demonstration of, you know, burning torches in a public park that was reminiscent of the tactics you saw with the KKK," Mike Signer said.

Signer along with Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy put out official statements on social media urging the community to stay "united in diversity."

"This is a loving and welcoming community. We do value diversity, tolerance, difference. That's the source of our strength," Signer said.

The rally is receiving bi-partisan condemnation. Fifty-Seventh District Del. David Toscano (D) and Charlottesville Republican Party Chair Erich Reimer say the intolerance is unacceptable.

Signer says the next steps to move the city forward involve learning how this happened and how to prevent it from happening again.

"Police are going to be looking into this incident extremely carefully applying due diligence looking at all of our laws and ordinances, viewing all the tapes," Signer said.

Charlottesville police promise that the department will do a thorough investigation of this incident that could take a couple weeks to complete.

Charlottesville Police Department Press Release:

On 05/13/2017 at approximately 9:20pm, officers with the Charlottesville Police Department were dispatched to Lee Park located at 101 East Market St for a report of suspicious activity. The first responding officer on scene observed 100 to 150 people in the park many of whom were carrying tiki style torches.

As this officer approached the group he observed that several members of the large group were arguing with a male individual.

The members of the larger group were heard to be chanting and the single male was yelling at them “to leave my town”. The officer began giving commands to all parties to clear the park and asked for additional units to respond.

As additional units arrived, all parties involved began to leave the park without incident. No assaults, injuries or damage to the park was reported. No arrests were made but a report was generated by the first responding officer to document the incident. Extra patrol was conducted for the remainder of the evening with no additional incidents being reported or observed.

If anyone has any information related to this incident they are asked to call the Charlottesville Police Department at 434-970-3280 as we conduct a follow up investigation to this incident.