WATCH: Charlottesville Police Chief Told Cops to “Let Them Fight” When Nazis Came to Town

“Let them fight.” That directive from the police chief as the violence started to unfold was only part of the massive failure of the response to the “Unite the Right rally” in Charlottesville, according to a searing 220-page report by an independent review team released Friday.

The review team, led by former Virginia U.S. Attorney Tim Heaphy, examined what exactly broke down in law enforcement’s response that allowed them to lose control over the August event, which left one dead, dozens injured, and generated ugly, violent scenes that shocked the nation.

The review was completed over 90 days, and conducted by four lawyers who worked on it full-time alongside other support staff like paralegals and librarians, Heaphy said during a press conference on Friday. Together, they interviewed more than 150 people and combed through half a million documents, including 300 hours of video footage, and 2,000 still images.

They concluded that police were woefully unprepared, and that leadership was sluggish in its response to escalating violence, and as a result, they failed to protect public safety.

One main problem that the report identified was that law enforcement’s response plan was inflexible, meaning that when the event became increasingly fluid and violent, line officers were left without a viable plan B.

“I talked to a dozen police officers who were very disappointed in their inability to react to this disorder,” said Heaphy. “They said ‘We had our thumbs up our ass’ or ‘We let the community down.’ Officers believed that because the way the plan was executed, they were prevented from doing their jobs.”

“In sum, this was a poorly conceived plan,” Heaphy said. “Good intentions gone awry. A failure to protect, which was a product of a failure to communicate and a failure to prepare.

The “Unite the Right” rally kicked off with a march on the University of Virginia’s campus on Friday, Aug. 12, with hundreds of white supremacists proceeding through the historic campus in Klan-like fashion, carrying torches and chanting “Jews will not replace us” and “Blood and Soil.” Heaphy said the university failed in that instance too, because they “treated it like a free speech event, not an event where people who hate each other wanted to fight.”

The following morning, white supremacists rallied in Emancipation Park around the statue of Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general whose proposed removal turned the quiet college town into a flashpoint for the national conversation about race and historical narrative. White supremacists began clashing violently with counterprotesters, many of whom were organizing under the antifa banner.

Heaphy said Charlottesville police officials failed to communicate with other cities that had responded to similar events, like the smaller white supremacist rally in Pikeville, Kentucky, in May. “This was a tremendous operational failure,” Heaphy said. “Folks who came here had been together in other places. The fact there was no effort to talk with those other places and gather lessons learned was a missed opportunity.”

Heaphy suggested there was a hint of arrogance on the part of Charlottesville. “The sense of ‘We got this’ was mistaken.”

So confident was the department’s leadership that there was nearly no effort to prepare line officers with specialized training before the weekend’s events.

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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5618 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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