Posted with permission from dpa German Press Agency

Washington (dpa) - Law enforcement authorities in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday declared a local emergency after clashes broke out between white nationalists and counterprotesters at a demonstration over the removal of a monument to a civil war general.

Officials declared the white nationalists' "Unite the Right" demonstration illegal after the clashes in which at least two people were hurt. The clashes occurred during a rally Saturday morning that followed an initial demonstration Friday night.

The white nationalists held the events to express their opposition to the city's plan to remove a statue of Confederate general Robert E Lee.

The local emergency is in place for two jurisdictions in the centre of Charlottesville, a university town about 187 kilometres south-west of Washington. The city warned citizens to stay away from the two areas, saying the size of the crowd was growing.

Governor Terry McAuliffe also declared a state of emergency to aid the state's response to the violence in Charlottesville. The state's National Guard forces also have been called in, according to CNN.

The declaration of a local emergency allows officials to request additional resources if needed, the Charlottesville Police Department said on Facebook.

Charlottesville's Robert E Lee statue was recently voted to be removed from the city's Emancipation Park, drawing both public support and outcry.

Lee led the Confederate army of the US southern states during the US civil war in the 19th century. Opponents of the statue say it represent some of the darker chapters of US history when slavery was legal and racism was the norm.