Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said police found weapons stashed by white nationalists. Police say they didn’t.
C.J. Ciaramella|Aug. 16, 2017 12:25 pm
Contradicting statements by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, the Virginia State Police say they did not find caches of weapons stashed around Charlottesville in advance of last Saturday’s deadly white nationalist rally.
In an interview Monday on the Pod Save the People podcast, hosted by Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson, McAuliffe claimed the white nationalists who streamed into Charlottesville that weekend hid weapons throughout the town.
“They had battering rams and we had picked up different weapons that they had stashed around the city,” McAuliffe told Mckesson.
McAuliffe’s comments were picked up by other news outlets and spread through social media. But Corinne Geller, a spokesperson for the Virginia State Police, says that no such stashes were found.
“The governor was referring to the briefing provided him in advance of Saturday’s rally and the extra security measures being taken by local and state police,” Geller tells Reason. “As a safety precaution in advance of August 12, such searches were conducted in and around Emancipation and McIntire Parks. No weapons were located as a result of those searches.”
The Virginia State Police also disputed McAuliffe’s claims that Virginia State Police were underequipped to deal with the heavily armed militia members at Saturday’s rally.
“The governor was referencing the weapons and tactical gear the members of various groups attending the rally had on their persons,” Geller says. “I can assure you that the Virginia State Police personnel were equipped with more-than-adequate specialized tactical and protective gear for the purpose of fulfilling their duties to serve and protect those in attendance of the August 12 event in Charlottesville.”
McAuliffe claimed in an interview with The New York Times that law enforcement arrived to find a line of militia members who “had better equipment than our State Police had.” In longer comments that were later edited out of the Times‘ story, McAuliffe said that up to 80 percent of the rally attendees were carrying semi-automatic weapons. “You saw the militia walking down the street, you would have thought they were an army,” he said.
Virginia police have come under criticism for failing to quell violence at the rally, which left one counterprotester dead and more than 30 injured.