Charlottesville police are being hammered—by white nationalists, as well as those who oppose them—for what is seen as systematic inaction in the face of violence during the Aug. 12 rally and counter-protest, the New York Times reports. A new video from the protest shows a white nationalist fire a gun in the direction of a black man—the bullet hits the ground—and then walk by a dozen state troopers. "They never moved," community activist Rosia Parker says of the troopers, adding she knows "damn well they heard it." A 25-year-old woman similarly says police "didn't move a muscle" when a man punched her in the nose. "I saw a white woman get hit, and they did not do anything," a black photographer says. "That's when I actually got really scared."
Officials deny there was any sort of "stand down" order given to police, saying—in the case of the gunshot—they simply didn't hear it. But a member of the Charlottesville City Council is wondering about an "apparent unwillingness of officers to directly intervene during overt assaults," and a white supremacist event coordinator calls the police's inaction "nefarious" and an attempt to silence them. WTOP reports the city has hired an investigator to conduct "an independent external review" of its response to the rally. Meanwhile, Mayor Mike Signer complains he was told "stay out of my way" by the city's police chief in the lead-up the rally and then kept out of the police command center during it, according to WVTF. Eight arrests were made during the rally in which one counter-protester was killed.