ProPublica reports [propublica.org]
Police Stood By As Mayhem Mounted in Charlottesville, Virginia
At about 10 a.m. [August 12], at one of countless such confrontations, an angry mob of white supremacists formed a battle line across from a group of counter-protesters, many of them older and gray-haired, who had gathered near a church parking lot. On command from their leader, the young men charged and pummeled their ideological foes with abandon. One woman was hurled to the pavement, and the blood from her bruised head was instantly visible.
Standing nearby, an assortment of Virginia State Police troopers and Charlottesville police wearing protective gear watched silently from behind an array of metal barricades--and did nothing.
[...]the white supremacists who flooded into the city's Emancipation Park--a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee sits in the center of the park--had spent months openly planning for war. The Daily Stormer, a popular neo-Nazi website, encouraged rally attendees to bring shields, pepper spray, and fascist flags and flagpoles. A prominent racist podcast told its listeners to come carrying guns.
[...]the white supremacists who showed up in Charlottesville did indeed come prepared for violence. Many wore helmets and carried clubs, medieval-looking round wooden shields, and rectangular plexiglass shields, similar to those used by riot police.
[...]The police did little to stop the bloodshed. Several times, a group of assault-rifle-toting militia members from New York State, wearing body armor and desert camo, played a more active role in breaking up fights.
[...]A good strategy, [said Miriam Krinsky, a former federal prosecutor who has worked on police reform efforts in Los Angeles], is to make clashes less likely by separating the two sides physically, with officers forming a barrier between them. "Create a human barrier so the flash points are reduced as quickly as possible."
[...]The skirmishes culminated in what appears to have been an act of domestic terrorism, with a driver ramming his car into a crowd of anti-racist activists on a busy downtown street, killing one and injuring 19 according to the latest information from city officials. Charlottesville authorities [that night] reported that a 20-year-old Ohio man had been arrested and had been charged with murder.