CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Two members of the Indy Star traveled to Virginia this weekend to cover the protest and while they were in the midst of documenting history, both were caught up in the violence that erupted.
"This is the worst of humanity I’ve seen," Indy Star Visuals Manager Mykal McEldowney said. "The hate speech, the fighting... there was no discussion back and forth it was just shouting and punches and weapons and smoke. I mean it was terrible."
Shortly after they arrived Friday, they received a tip there was going to be demonstration Friday night on the University of Virginia's campus.
“To see it go from pitch dark in a field to torch after torch after torch being lit in a row, it was unsettling," McEldowney said.
The two followed a large group of white nationalist through the university's campus when the group ultimately stopped at the school's rotunda where they encountered a gathering of counter protesters.
"You could cut the tension with a knife, you knew something was potentially going to happen," McEdlowney said. "But as soon as one of them put their torch out it was on from there.”
The two groups began to fight for about 10 minutes, McEdownely said, and described the scene as, "ugly."
“I got (pepper) sprayed, a lot of people got sprayed," he said. "Bobby, he kind of ingested some and it just happened in the blink of an eye.”
The two continued reporting Saturday where they saw more violence. You can see a collection of McEldowney's photos here.
“I’ve not seen the language, the hate and to be completely honest with you it was from both sides," McEldowney said. "It was from the white nationalist side and it was from the counter protester side.”
The two plan to stay in Virginia through at least Monday and McEldowney says he hopes this weekend's violence can be the starting point for a larger national conversation.
“People are frustrated and you can see that," he said. "I wish there was a better way we could come together and talk about things rather than result to this and at its core this was about a statue.”