U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr
After the violent clashes between white supremacist and members of Antifa in Charlottesville, Virginia, Gov. Terry McAuliffe had sharp words for the white supremacists.
When asked why it appeared police had backed off and did not intervene in the many fights, however, McAuliffe was quick to blame the armed “militia members,” neglecting to mention the armed Antifa members in the process.
“They had better equipment than our State Police had,” McAuliffe told The New York Times. It was a statement with subtle gun-control talking points— talking points that were inaccurate:
When asked if attendees had “better equipment” than law enforcement, Corinne Geller, Virginia State Police public relations manager, told the Washington Free Beacon that was simply not true:
“No, the State Police did not have inferior equipment. Our personnel are equipped, and were equipped, with the necessary protective and tactical gear for their safety and, obviously, to protect those that were in attendance of the event.”
“They had the necessary inventory and gear that they needed for this event. There were no shots fired at the event or anything of that nature but our folks had the proper gear and tactical equipment they needed in order to safeguard themselves and everybody in attendance,” she added.
According to CNN, McAuliffe had pushed for gun control hours after a Bernie Sanders supporter shot at Republican members of Congress in June during a Congressional Baseball Game practice in Alexandria, Virginia. “Let me say this: I think we need to do more to protect all of our citizens. I have long advocated — this is not what today is about — but there are too many guns on the street. We lose 93 million Americans a day to gun violence,” he said.
Indeed McAuliffe's assertion was wrong, as Independent Journal Review was on the ground in Charlottesville. It could be argued the police were matched in terms the number of firearms, as both opposing groups had armed members. But it is wrong to say the white supremacists and Antifa had better equipment.
In addition to Virginia State Police being in full riot gear, members of the Virginia National Guard military police were also present. Virginia State Police also had multiple versions of Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles.
The fundamental flaw with how law enforcement handled the two groups was that there were no police officers separating them. There was nothing between Antifa and the “Unite the Right” attendees.
As I experienced while covering protests during the 2016 Republican National Convention and Inauguration Day, the common tactic is good for situations like this.
Whether Virginia police didn't plan to use it or were unable to because things happened so quickly, this is why the event turned into a riot. Things would not have escalated to the point they did if police were able to keep them apart.