'It hit 20 people': Three dead at white power rally attack
*WARNING: DISTURBING VIDEO*
THE death toll from a violent car rampage at a white supremacist rally in Virginia has climbed to at least three, as President Donald Trump has condemned the attack.
One person died when a car surged into a crowd of what witnesses said was counter-demonstrators in Charlottesville.
The victim was a 32-year-old woman who was crossing the street when the car plowed into the intersection, Charlottesville police chief Al Thomas said.
Details of the other two deaths were not immediately released.
The male driver has been taken into custody and police were treating the incident as a "criminal homicide," he said.
At least 35 people had been treated for injuries, ranging from life-threatening to minor, Thomas said.
Hundreds had descended on the city either to march in or rail against a "Unite the Right Rally," a major gathering of white supremacists, nationalists and other supporters of the so-called "alt-right."
"We had folks who came here to cause mayhem and chaos and mischief that resulted in three fatalities here in the city of Charlottesville," city manager Maurice Jones said at a news conference.
President Donald Trump has condemned "hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides" in response to the tragedy.
Meantime, Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer tweeted: "I am heartbroken that a life has been lost here. I urge all people of good will - go home".
One eyewitness told the New York Post that the attack was definitely "intentional".
"The car was travelling at (65km/h), hit about 15-20 people, crashed into the two cars in front of it, and then backed up and sped away while cops were standing on the side of the road and didn't do anything."
The car ploughed into the crowd two hours after police shut down a white nationalist rally before it could even begin in a Charlottesville park.
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe had already declared a state of emergency in order "to aid state response to violence" at the rally in Charlottesville, which is about 160 kilometres outside of Washington, D.C.
"It is now clear that public safety cannot be safeguarded without additional powers, and that the mostly out-of-state protesters have come to Virginia to endanger our citizens and property," McAuliffe said.
Speaking at a press conference, McAuliffe directly addressed the "white supremacists and the Nazis" who were behind the attack in Charlottesville, telling them to "go home and never come back" and saying "you are not wanted in this great commonwealth".
Meantime, Mr Trump addressed the "terrible" tragedy, speaking a press conference in New Jersey.
"We're closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia," Mr Trump said. "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides."
"It's been going on for a long time in our country," Mr Trump said. "Not Donald Trump. Not Barack Obama. It's been going on for a long, long time."
Mr Trump was criticised for taking "hours" to make a statement. First Lady Melania Trump tweeted her thoughts before anyone in the White House.
Mr Trump also stopped short of attacking the white supremacist groups in his tweets or in his public comments.
"We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!"
Our country encourages freedom of speech, but let's communicate w/o hate in our hearts. No good comes from violence. #Charlottesville— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) August 12, 2017
Mrs Trump was the first voice out of the White House to condemn one of the largest race hate rallies in the US for decades.
"Our country encourages freedom of speech, but let's communicate w/o hate in our hearts. No good comes from violence," Mrs Trump said.
The white nationalist rally was declared an unlawful assembly after the group were initially granted a permit to hold the event.
Bearing shields and chanting racist slogans, thousands of white nationalists descended on Emancipation Park - formerly Lee Park - in downtown Charlottesville.
Hundreds of counter-protesters were also there, and both sides hurled plastic bottles and sprayed each other with chemicals.
It's the latest confrontation in the city since it voted earlier this year to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a downtown park.
US President Donald Trump condemned the violence via Twitter.
However, the president was criticised for only tweeting about the violence after First Lady Melania Trump had herself taken to Twitter.