ONE person has died and several more were injured amid violent clashes between white supremacists and counter protesters in Charlottesville in the US state of Virginia.

A car ploughed into a group of people peacefully protesting yesterday although it is not clear if the death came as a result of it ramming into a long line of peaceful marchers.

Pictures on television, on wire services and social media showed emergency services treating several people that were hit by the car. One witness said one girl got "tore up" after the car "backed up and hit again".

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The far-right protesters, marching under the banner Unite the Right, some waving Confederate flags, carrying shields and wearing helmets, were protesting about the planned removal of a statue of Gen Robert E Lee from the city. Lee, a slave owner, commanded the Confederate forces in the US Civil War of 1861-65.

On Friday, the white nationalists held lit torches – which some observers described as a reference to the Ku Klux Klan – and chanted "White lives matter" as they marched through the University of Virginia in the city.

Charlottesville is considered a liberal college town - and 86 per cent of the county voted for Hillary Clinton in last year's presidential election

As clashes broke out on Friday President Donald Trump tweeted that "we ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for". He then wrote: "There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!"

However Charlottesville mayor Michael Signer said he was disgusted the white nationalists had come to his town and blamed the US leader for inflaming racial prejudices during his presidential campaign. Some of the white nationalists cited Trump's election victory as a validation of their beliefs.

Signer said: "I'm not going to make any bones about it. I place the blame for a lot of what you're seeing in American today right at the doorstep of the White House and the people around the president."

Virginia's governor Terry McAuliffe has declared a state of emergency in response to the rally. He said via his Twitter account on Saturday morning that the declaration was made in order "to aid state response to violence".

The White House was silent for hours about the rioting, except for a solitary tweet from US first lady Melania Trump who wrote: "Our country encourages freedom of speech, but let's communicate w/o hate in our hearts. No good comes from violence."

The president has received previous criticism for being slow to condemn acts of hate carried out in his name.

Last night the organiser of the white rally encouraged attendees to leave town after authorities declared an unlawful assembly and police ordered people to disperse.

Right-wing blogger Jason Kessler, who organised the demo in protest over the statue decision, said that he and other people who were going to speak at the event evacuated with security protection when police issued the order to disperse.

Prominent alt-right activist Richard Spencer, who was scheduled to speak, said he was also encouraging people to go home.