The White Supremacists Behind The Deadly Charlottesville Rally Are Going To Court. Here’s What You Need To Know.

“This really will be the first time the entire story of Charlottesville will be told out loud,” said Karen Dunn, co–lead counsel for the plaintiffs.

10/22/2021 9:20:00 AM

“This really will be the first time the entire story of Charlottesville will be told out loud,” said Karen Dunn, co–lead counsel for the plaintiffs.

“This really will be the first time the entire story of Charlottesville will be told out loud,” said Karen Dunn, co–lead counsel for the plaintiffs.

years in prison.Heidi Beirich, a cofounder of the Global Project against Hate and Extremism who previously worked with the Southern Poverty Law Center to take violent white supremacist groups to court, told BuzzFeed News that the Charlottesville case is unique in its size and ambition.

“I worked at the SPLC for a long time, and we did a lot of civil cases that were similar to this, attempts to bankrupt hate groups that had committed violence and harmed people. But we were taking on one organization,” she said. “They are taking on a whole host of groups that were involved in the violence in Charlottesville... [The case] has a scope that is unlike anything else I’ve seen.”

The Plaintiffsnine plaintiffsin the case, including one identified only as John Doe. Many were physically injured during the “Unite the Right” violence.Marcus Martin and his wife, Marissa Blair (his fiancé at the time of the rally), are among them. They had gone with Blair’s coworker, Heyer, to join activists countering the white supremacists in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, 2017. When Fields’s gray Dodge Challenger plowed into the group of activists, Martin was able to push Blair out of the way, but he was hit. A Pulitzer Prize–winning photograph of the incident shows Martin, wearing a white shirt and red-and-white Air Jordan sneakers, suspended in midair after being struck. His injuries included a broken leg and ankle that required surgery, according to the IFA.

Ryan M. Kelly / The Daily Progress via APA car plows into protesters on Aug. 12, 2017.Elizabeth Sines protested against the “Unite the Right” extremists on Aug. 11 and 12. A law student at the University of Virginia at the time, she narrowly avoided being physically injured, but IFA said she has suffered severe emotional distress and shock over what happened. In a

2019 interviewwith NPR, she recalled seeing the white supremacists march across the UVA campus with torches and said that the sound of the Challenger was still in her head, as was the image of the car’s driver backing up to roll over more people.“That’s when it clicked,” she told NPR. “It very much seemed like he was going to try and kill as many people as possible.”

The other plaintiffs all lived, studied, or worked in Charlottesville at the time. They joined others in protesting against the white supremacists and suffered physical injuries and psychological trauma from the experience.IFA’s Spitalnick, who’s grown close with several of the victims, said she expects their testimonies in court to be powerful, convincing, and emotional as they relive the traumatic events of four years ago.

The DefendantsThe 24 defendants were all directly involved in organizing, promoting, and participating in the “Unite the Right” rally, but some have publicly denied conspiring to commit racially motivated violence in Charlottesville. Most of the defendants and attorneys for them didn’t respond to requests for comment or couldn’t be reached by BuzzFeed News. William Edward ReBrook, the attorney representing the Nationalist Socialist Movement as well as the organization’s commander at the time, Jeff Schoep, “categorically” denied the accusations leveled by IFA and the plaintiffs in the case. ReBrook added he believed the defendants would not receive a fair trial.

“Thus far, after more than two years of pleadings, discovery, motions, and conferences, plaintiffs have yet to produce a single piece of evidence to support their claim of a conspiracy to commit violence in Charlottesville,” he said. “​​If not for the fact that the defendants are mostly white supremacists, the suit would have been dismissed years ago.”

Beirich described them as “real players in the white supremacy movement prior to Charlottesville” and part of “a whole panoply of hate groups that were there that day.”Shay Horse/NurPhoto via Getty ImagesWhite supremacists form a phalanx against counterprotesters on Aug. 12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Read more: BuzzFeed »

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