The first city council meeting since the violent protests earlier this month between neo-Nazi protesters and Antifa counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, was met with chaos as residents voiced their anger toward city officials for allowing the rally to take place.
According to the New York Times, Charlottesville residents were incensed at what they said was a lack of police response during the protests-turned-riots, and an unwillingness to stop the rallies before they spiraled out of control, resulting in the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer.
Shortly after the council meeting began Monday evening, several residents started shouting at city officials, blaming them for allowing the "Unite the Right" rally to take place at all. As more residents joined in and the meeting quickly devolved into chaos, Charlottesville police forcibly removed three protesters, who were later charged with disorderly conduct.
Tensions flared even further at the meeting as residents yelled, "Shame!" and "Shut it down!"
“I’m outraged!” said 41-year-old Tracy Saxon, according to the Times. “I watched my people get beat and murdered. They let Nazis in here have freedom of speech, and they protect them? And we can’t have freedom of speech?”
As city officials, including the mayor, left the room due to safety concerns, two residents displayed a large banner that read, "Blood on your hands."
Chaos at Charlottesville city council meeting over city's response to white supremacist rally https://t.co/01hr2dganT
— Morning Express (@MorningExp) August 22, 2017
But instead of leaving the room, Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy stayed behind and negotiated with the angry residents, agreeing to allow each resident one minute to speak in front of the council in exchange for their cooperation to allow the meeting to continue.
Once order was restored, the meeting went on for four more hours as residents took their turns expressing their disdain of the city's handling of the protests. Some residents were critical that the city even allowed a white supremacist rally in the first place, but city officials insisted that although they tried to deny the rally permit, it was out of their control.
"We tried really hard," Mayor Mike Signer told the crowd. “A federal judge forced us to have that rally downtown.”
After the impassioned demonstration, city officials voted unanimously to drape the statues of Confederate War figures Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson in black in mourning, a move intended to be the first step toward the complete removal of the statues from the public sphere.
City officials also told residents they plan to bring in a third party to review the city's overall handling of the rally.