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Public meeting gets heated after scathing review of deadly Charlottesville rally

Posted at 11:49 PM, Dec 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-04 23:49:56-05

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Charlottesville City Council heard hours of emotional public comment after being briefed on the independent review of summer protests including the deadly “Unite the Right” rally on August 12.

Former federal prosecutor Timothy Heaphy briefed council and the community on the report that was released Friday. It determined the Charlottesville Police Department and the Virginia State Police “failed miserably,” but Heaphy said it was not for a lack of caring.

“CPD and VSP failed to operate under a unified command,” said Heaphy.

“This so called independent review is not going to wipe the blood off your hands. The review is full of errors and omissions is an insult to the dead and the community,” said a member of the public.

The report says there was a lack of police response to violence at the far-right rally.

Related: Report on Charlottesville rally faults police over planning, failure to protect public

“Their instructions were to only respond to serious violence. ‘unless someone’s getting killed we aren’t going out there,’” explained Heaphy of police.

Heaphy said this lead to deep distrust of government.

“Here’s your action plan you need to fire (city manager) Maurice Jones you also need to fire (Charlottesville Police Chief) Al Thomas and the commanders if the report is half true there should be a criminal investigation and criminal charges,” said a speaker. “If you don’t, that means Heaphy’s report was full of lies that means you need to demand the $100,000 back.”

“I am eager to see people listening to each other,” said a speaker. “We are told as the counter protesters or the Antifa to listen to you guys you guys haven’t been doing a lot of leadership and I would love to see a little more,” she added.

The findings also show the death of counter protester Heather Heyer, a woman intentionally run down by a self-proclaimed member of the alt-right, could have been prevented had safety measures been implemented.

“People I love were severely injured and permanently traumatized,” said another speaker. “Heather Heyer became the victim of murder. Her parents lost their baby.” she added.

Related: VSP responds to independent review of 2017 protests in Charlottesville

“Heather Heyer was killed. The troopers were killed. Unquestionably, this is an awful tragedy, but it could have been worse,” Heaphy pointed out.

Council apologized for letting down the community. They made recommendations on how to move forward to prevent this from ever happening again and how to address race and discrimination concerns.

They will meet again in two weeks. ​

You can read the full independent review, here.