FACT CHECK: Was There Violence On Both Sides Of Charlottesville?
President Donald Trump reiterated Thursday his claim that “both sides” were to blame for the violence in Charlottesville, prompting The New York Times to relitigate the statement.
Were both sides violent?
Regardless of blame regarding who started the violence or who perpetrated the most violence, it is true that both sides committed violence during the Charlottesville fiasco.
Casting Trump’s assertion that both the white supremacists and the antifa protesters share blame in the violence as a false claim, The New York Times reports that antifa protesters “clashed with” and “resisted” the white supremacists. The report does not, however, address whether one or both sides were in fact violent during the protests.
Trump reiterated the claim on Air Force One as he was recounting his side of a conversation he had with Republican Sen. Tim Scott on Wednesday.
“You have some pretty bad dudes on the other side also,” Trump said, referring to antifa. “Now because of what’s happened since Charlottesville — a lot of people are saying — in fact, a lot of people have actually written, ‘Gee, Trump might have a point.’ I said, ‘You’ve got some very bad people on the other side,’ which is true.”
Of course, Trump’s remarks are being criticized inside the larger context of his initial response to Charlottesville, when he did not immediately condemn the white supremacists in explicit terms. He was widely criticized for drawing a false moral equivalence between the white supremacists and the antifa protesters.
Questions of morality aside, does Trump “have a point” that there was violence from both groups?
According to video footage and reports at the time, violence was perpetrated by both sides during the Charlottesville protest. Footage shows violence from white nationalists and white supremacists as well as anti-protesters.
A footage compilation from the Los Angeles Times also shows violence on both sides of the protest.
Outside of video footage, multiple reporters cited violence from both sides at the time. A reporter for The Hill Taylor Lorenz was punched in the face by a counter-protester while filming the events in Charlottesville. The perpetrator was later arrested and released on bail.
As the editor of National Review Rich Lowry noted, one NYT journalist confirmed violence on both sides in a series of tweets.
Lowry also pointed to Hawes Spencer – who was filing for NYT at the time – reporting:
The entirety of Downtown Charlottesville looked like a war zone. Protesters maced each other, threw water bottles and urine balloons — some of which hit reporters — and generally beat the crap out of each other with flagpoles.
Reporters from TheDNCF, who were on the ground at the time, described violence from left-wing protestors.
TheDCNF witnessed leftist groups mace white supremacists as a way to start infiltrating Emancipation Park, where the rally was held. The radical left also began throwing a variety of items at the white supremacists, such as balloons filled with urine, paint, or pieces of concrete, as well as soda cans filled with concrete, food, and full water bottles.
The report also described white supremacist violence.
TheDCNF witnessed men brutally assaulting a woman, white supremacist using their flags as spears, bashing people with wooden planks, while many of them were armed with their various types of assault rifles and handguns.
The fact check is not making a judgment call on Trump’s response to the events of Charlottesville. But given the vast amount of reports and film footage, his claim that violence occurred on both sides during the Charlottesville protest is true.
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