WASHINGTON, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- Governor of U.S. state of Virginia Terry McAuliffe on Saturday declared the state of emergency as violent clashes took place at a big white nationalist rally in Charlottesville in Virginia.
Thousands of white nationalists, neo-Confederates and right-wing protesters, as well as groups that oppose them, clashed during the "Unite the Right" demonstrations that are still ongoing in Charlottesville, a historic college town in the state bordering U.S. capital Washington D.C.
Several people were reportedly injured during the clashes before the official start of the rally scheduled at noon.
There are reports of urine being tossed at reporters and the air is said to be filled with pepper spray, mace and tear gas.
A federal judge declared on Friday that the gathering was "unlawful" and the governor had urged Virginians to stay away from the planned rally.
"In the event that such violent or unlawful conduct occurs, I have instructed state public safety officials to act quickly and decisively in order to keep the public and themselves safe," the governor said in a statement.
"Many of the individuals coming to Charlottesville are doing so in order to express viewpoints many people, including me, find abhorrent." he said.
The historic city, home of Thomas Jefferson and the University of Virginia, has become the latest Southern battleground over the contested removal of Confederate monuments.
In April, the city council voted to remove the bronze statue of Robert Lee, an American general known for commanding the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War from 1862 until his surrender in 1865.