Alfred Thomas, chief of police for Charlottesville, has resigned just 17 days after a scathing report detailing the failures of the police department during the “Unite the Right” white supremacist rally in August that left one dead and several injured.
According to the report, the police failed to respond when violence broke out at the white supremacist rally in August of this year. Instead of intervening, the police remained behind barricades. The report concluded that the city’s plan to control the streets was “much like it is on Saturday afternoon for a football game” despite several warnings of serious threats leading up to the events.
The report was conducted by Timothy J. Heaphy, former United States attorney hired by the city. It was released on December first. The city hired Heaphy to investigate the violence and the fact that the police failed to reach out to other cities where white nationalists and counterprotesters clashed.
Additionally, the Charlottesville police commanders did not give adequate training to officers, specifically training in civil unrest, and during the peak of violence, they pulled back to a safe zone while protesters and counterprotesters fought in the streets.
The report specifically accuses Chief Thomas of trying to limit the scope of the investigation, deleting text messages that were relevant and falsifying a document to make it look like the department had adequately prepared for a mass disturbance.
“Many officers with whom we spoke expressed concern that their truthful provision of critical information about the protest events would result in retaliation from Chief Thomas,” the report said, suggesting that Chief Thomas attempted to gag his department.
In a statement released by the city, Thomas stated, “Nothing in my career has brought me more pride than serving as the police chief for the City of Charlottesville.”
The clash between white nationalists and counterprotesters turned deadly when a neo-Nazi plowed his car into a crowd, killing Heather D. Heyer and injuring 35 others.
NationofChange was on the ground in Charlottesville and witnessed first hand the lack of police response to violence. Our reporter, Zach D. Roberts, captured on camera white nationalists beating a young black man in a parking structure right next to the police station.
Not only did the police fail to respond to the situation, they were unhelpful in the follow-up investigation to identify and charge De’Andre Harris’s attackers.