At a press conference Monday, Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas said police had intended to keep the two groups apart. “Unite the Right” protesters had agreed to enter Emancipation Park from the rear entrance, but they strayed from the plan, he said.
“They began entering at different locations,” he said, making it difficult for police to control the crowd and separate the factions.
.. Corinne Geller, a spokeswoman for the Virginia State Police, who were assisting local police, also said the plan was to keep the two sides separated.
.. “There were physical barriers to separate those opposing sides and law enforcement as well, however individuals chose to assemble on the streets,” she said. “We are not in a position to tell people where to assemble.”
Ms. Geller said in the early going, conflicts would “flare up and people would dissolve into the crowd,” making it difficult of police to find them.
.. Chief O’Toole said that one of the keys to Seattle’s response to protests now is a group of police officers on bicycles who help “facilitate the marches, control traffic and as a last resort they’re used to form a fence line.”..“I’ve always felt if you send riot police at the start, you can assume there’ll probably be a riot,” she said. “The bicycle officers are able to start with a bit softer approach; they’re accessible and they engage with the protesters.”