FBI, federal prosecutors launch civil rights investigation into Virginia violence

The FBI and federal prosecutors said they’ve began a civil rights investigation after a car crashed into a crowd Saturday in Charlottesville.

The FBI’s Richmond field office, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia said they have opened an investigation into the circumstances of the deadly vehicular incident.

A 32-year-old woman died after a car plowed through a crowd. Later a helicopter responding to the violence crashed outside the city, killing two state police troopers.

Earlier that night, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas called on the Justice Department to launch an investigation.

Cruz called the violent clashes surrounding white nationalists and counter-protesters “acts of domestic terrorism.”

“The Nazis, the KKK, and white supremacists are repulsive and evil, and all of us have a moral obligation to speak out against the lies, bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred that they propagate,” Cruz’s statement said.

Like other politicians, he noted the First Amendment protects the right to free speech but he also stressed at the same time that “violence, brutality and murder” have no place.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the violence, “strikes at the heart of American law and justice. When such actions arise form racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated.”

Sessions promised a full federal investigation of the clashes and ending his statement Saturday saying, “Justice will prevail.”

The turbulence began Friday night when white nationalists carried torches though the city’s university campus in what they billed as a “pro-white” demonstration.

On Saturday hundreds of people threw punches and unleashed chemical sprays as part of the violence.

“Heidi’s and my prayers are with the loved ones of those killed and injured in the ongoing violence in Charlottesville,” Cruz said in the statement. “These bigots want to tear our country apart, but they…

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