While many officers focused their efforts inside the park, others ― some fully outfitted in riot gear ― stood guard in full view of the violence mounting in the crowd outside. They stood idle, in apparent earshot of requests for them to “do something,” as white nationalists fought their way through throngs of counter-protesters toward the park.

“There was no police presence on the streets themselves,” said Brittany Caine-Conley, chief organizer of Congregate Charlottesville, a clergy group dedicated to social justice. “As the alt-right, Nazi groups began to march toward the park, they were often creating pockets of violence.”

Officers made little effort to break up the fights, instead remaining in phalanx formation around the barrier, said Caine-Conley.