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Charlottesville Police Chief Has Regrets Over Handling Of Protests

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RICHMOND, VA (CBSMiami) - The police chief of Charlottesville, Virginia is not admitting to any failures in the way his department responded to Saturday's violent protests. He does, however, regret the loss of life.

"It was a challenge. It was certainly a challenge," said police Chief Al Thomas in speaking to reporters.

Thomas said it took officers about an hour to regain control of the streets. When asked if he had any regrets about not having his officers better prepared for the situation, and in the proper gear, so they could have acted sooner, Thomas admitted he did have some regrets.

He said the security plan was for the white supremacists and counter protesters to enter Emancipation Park through separate entrances. When the white supremacists, who had agreed to the plan, started using other entrances skirmishes broke out.

Around 11:30 a.m., the police began to clear the park of all demonstrators which sent them out into the streets.

About two hours after police ordered everyone to leave the park, James Alex Fields Jr., a white supremacist, rammed his Dodge Challenger into a group of counter protesters. Heather Heyer was killed and 19 others were injured.

During his court appearance on Monday, he was formally charged with second-degree murder, along with other charges, and denied bond.

Fields has a history of violence. When he was 12 years old or so, his mother called 911 saying he had hit her in the head, threatened her with a 12-inch knife and locked her in the bathroom when she was in a wheelchair.

Federal investigators are now scrutinizing Fields' background and electronic communications for any links to groups promoting violence.


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