On Tuesday, a federal jury in Charlottesville, VA found that more than a dozen white supremacists “conspired to intimidate, harass, or commit acts of violence during 2017’s deadly Unite the Right rally.”
The jury decided that these men, along with the white supremacist groups to which they belong, owe $26 million in damages.
The jurors found that former alt-right leader Richard Spencer, rally organizer Jason Kessler, and Christopher Cantwell, as well as all of the other defendants in this case, were liable under Virginia law. This includes 10 individuals and 14 white nationalist, neo-Nazi, and white supremacist organizations.
The Unite the Right Rally four years ago was where neo-nazi James Alex Fields Jr. “plowed his car through a crowd of protesters,” hitting four people and killing counter-protester Heather Heyer. The victims suffered serious injuries, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder.
Victims sought damages for medical costs as well as pain and suffering. They wanted to hold organizers of this violent march responsible and deter other racist groups from organizing similar dangerous displays.
Testimony came from victims, including Melissa Blair, who “was pushed out of the way as Fields’ car slammed into the crowd, described the horror of seeing her fiance bleeding on the sidewalk and later learning that her friend Heyer had been killed.”
“I was confused. I was scared. I was worried about all the people that were there. It was a complete terror scene. It was blood everywhere. I was terrified,” said Blair in her emotional testimony.
At the protest, white supremacists chanted “Jews will not replace us” as they marched with torches.
The news of this trial came just days after Kyle Rittenhouse, a white teenager who killed two people during a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha in 2020, was acquitted on all charges. Simultaneously, a jury in Georgia is debating murder counts against the three white men accused of shooting and killing Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed Black man who was on a run.
Sources: Washington Post 11/23/21; New York Times 11/23/21; Washington Post 11/23/21; NPR 11/23/21