Jurors in the Unite the Right civil trial will hear final arguments on Thursday in a lawsuit seeking to hold white supremacists liable for the violence that occurred in Charlottesville in 2017.
Lawyers for nine people who were physically or emotionally harmed during the two days of chaos claim the defendants planned racially motivated violence.
Attorneys for the white nationalists claim there was no plot and that their use of racial epithets and bombastic language in chat rooms before the demonstration was permitted by the First Amendment.
On August 11 and 12, 2017, hundreds of white supremacists converged on Charlottesville, allegedly to protest the city’s plans to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
White supremacists encircled counterprotesters and tossed blazing tiki torches at them during a march on the University of Virginia campus. The next day, an avowed Hitler supporter crashed his car into a gathering of counterprotesters, killing one woman and wounding hundreds more.
People who were hit by Fields’ automobile or watched the incident, as well as plaintiffs who were exposed to racial slurs or abuse, gave emotional evidence during the trial.
During their testimony, some of the defendants shouted racist slurs and boldly advocated for white supremacy. They also blamed the violence on one other and anti-fascist protestors known as Antifa.
The plaintiffs’ case seeks specific monetary damages as well as a ruling that the defendants violated their constitutional rights. Integrity First for America, a non-profit civil rights group, is funding it.
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