New Zealander in the middle of Charlottesville terror attack

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A New Zealander has been caught up in the middle of an anti-racism protest in US that ended in tragedy.

A car ploughed into a crowd in Charlottesville, Virginia, leaving one person dead.

Chris Mahony was on his way to join the anti-racism protest when he saw a car accelerate into the crowd of people.

"The car went straight past us, careened into the crowd and then reversed back into the crowd again, and reversed back past us," he said.

"I was thinking, this was an act of terror."

The car reversing back through the packed crowd caused just as much chaos, as people went in to help those who were initially hit.

"People ran in to help and then it went into reverse and came back and hit those people that were moving to assist others."

Mr Mahony said he wasn't surprised by the attack in Charlottesville, only that it wasn't the type of attack he was expecting in the tense environment.

"For people to walk around in military fatigues with semi-automatic weapons is very dangerous, so I wasn't unsurprised that there was an attack - I was just surprised that it wasn't someone starting to shoot as tensions grew."

Mr Mahony alerted one of the many police officers in Charlottesville to the situation after chasing the vehicle up the road to take a photo of it.

"I was telling the police officer, 'Radio your colleague to follow that car and apprehend the person driving that car, because they just attacked a group of protestors.'"

A friend of Virginia Governor candidate Tom Perriello, Mr Mahony was there to support the man who represented the 5th District of Virginia in Congress, in which Charlottesville is the main town.

Mr Mahoney said President Donald Trump "was effective in providing [white nationalists] a villain to direct their anger at" - those who aren't white.

He said he's trying to avoid going outside, but has so far managed to lodge a statement with police and do an interview with a friend of his, who is an editor at CNN.

A man who has spent time in war zones, Mr Mahony said to find this sort of discontent in a country with an advanced economy was "intimidating".


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