Posts tagged with "Charlottesville"

Jury in Charlottesville ‘Unite the Right’ rally trial finds leaders liable for more than $25 million

November 25, 2021

A federal jury in Virginia awarded victims of violence stemming from a 2017 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, more than $25 million on Tuesday, November 23, after finding prominent white-supremacist leaders and groups liable under state law for injuries suffered during a torchlight march and Unite the Right event, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The jury deadlocked on two federal conspiracy counts.

The events on August 11 and August 12, 2017, were attended by hundreds of members of white-nationalist, neo-Nazi and militia groups from around the nation. Throughout the weekend, violent clashes with counter-protesters left dozens injured and one woman dead, after a white-nationalist demonstrator drove his car into a crowd.

The lawsuit was filed in October 2017 by several people who were injured that weekend. The plaintiffs used a Reconstruction-Era law to attempt to hold liable the leaders and organizers who planned the violence and others who carried it out.

Among the individual and organizational defendants found liable were Jason Kessler, the primary organizer of the Unite the Right rally; Richard B. Spencer, considered a founder of the insurgent white-supremacist movement known as the alt-right; and James Fields Jr., who was sentenced to life in prison for killing a woman when he drove into a crowd of counter-protesters.

The jury also held responsible several other white-supremacist groups whose members promoted and participated in the rallies, including the National Socialist Movement, Vanguard America, and League of the South.

Amy Spitalnick, executive director of Integrity First for America, a nonprofit civil-rights organization funding the lawsuit, said the plaintiffs sought to recover enough money to bankrupt those at the center of the movement

“These judgments underscore the major financial, legal, and operational consequences for violent hate,” she said Tuesday.

The lawsuit sought compensatory damages between $7 million and $10 million for the four plaintiffs who were hit by the car and between $3 million and $5 million for the other plaintiffs for trauma they suffered, as well as unspecified punitive damages.

Throughout the monthlong trial, jurors heard testimony from at least two dozen witnesses, including many of the defendants.

The two counts that the jury deadlocked on used a Reconstruction Era law—the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871—which allows victims of racially-motivated violence to sue the people who conspired to attack them.

Jurors deliberated for nearly three days before returning the verdict Tuesday afternoon, holding all defendants responsible for conspiracy under Virginia state law.

The jury also found Fields liable for claims of assault or battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. On those counts, jurors awarded the plaintiffs $13.5 million in damages, including $12 million in punitive damages.

Co-lead counsels for the plaintiffs, Roberta Kaplan and Karen Dunn, said, in a statement Tuesday, “The laws of this country will not tolerate the use of violence to deprive racial and religious minorities of the basic right we all share to live as free and equal citizens.”

Research contact: @WSJ

Study: Fears of ‘White people losing out’ permeate Capitol rioters’ towns

January 7, 2021

Most Americans take the Capitol rioters at their word—accepting that their motive for breaching the U.S. Capitol on January 6 was to stop the Congress from verifying the election of Democratic President Joe Biden.

However, The New York Times reports, when the political scientist Robert Pape of The University of Chicago began studying the issues that motivated the 380 or so people arrested in connection with the attack against the Capitol, he found something very different: Most of the people who took part in the assault came from places, his polling and demographic data showed, that—goaded by then-President Trump– were awash in fears that the rights of minorities and immigrants were crowding out the rights of white people in American politics and culture.

Indeed, if Pape’s initial conclusions— published on Tuesday in The Washington Post—hold true, they would appear to connect the January 6 insurrrection  to the once-fringe right-wing theory called the Great Replacement— that an indigenous European (e.g., White) population is being replaced by non-European immigrants.

What’s more Pape’s conclusions appear to link the January 6 riot to events like the far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 where crowds of white men marched with torches chanting, “Jews will not replace us!”

“If you look back in history, there has always been a series of far-right extremist movements responding to new waves of immigration to the United States or to movements for civil rights by minority groups,” Pape told the Post, adding,  “You see a common pattern in the Capitol insurrectionists. They are mainly middle-class to upper-middle-class whites who are worried that, as social changes occur around them, they will see a decline in their status in the future.”

One fact stood out in Pape’s study, conducted with the help of researchers at the Chicago Project on Security and Threats—a think tank he runs at the University of Chicago. Counties with the most significant declines in the non-Hispanic white population are the most likely to produce insurrectionists. This finding held true, Pape determined, even when controlling for population size, distance to Washington, unemployment rate, and urban or rural location.

Law enforcement officials have said that between 800 and 1,000 people entered the Capitol on January 6—and prosecutors have spent the past three months tracking down many of them in what they have described as one of the largest criminal investigations in U.S. history. In recent court filings, the government has hinted that more than 400 people may ultimately face charges, including illegal entry, assault of police officers and the obstruction of the official business of Congress.

According to the report by the Times. Pape determined that only about 10% percent of those charged were members of established far-right organizations like the Oath Keepers militia or the nationalist extremist group the Proud Boys. But unlike other analysts who have made similar findings,

In an effort to determine why the mob that formed on January 6 turned violent, Pape compared events that day with two previous pro-Trump rallies in Washington, on November 14 and December 12. While police records show some indications of street fighting after the first two gatherings, Pape said, the number of arrests were fewer and the charges less serious than on January 6. The records also show that those arrested in November and December largely lived within an hour of Washington while most of those arrested in January came from considerably farther away.

The difference at the rallies was former President Donald Trump, Pape said—noting that Trump promoted the January 6 rally in advance, saying it would be “wild” and driving up attendance. He then encouraged the mob to march on the Capitol in an effort to “show strength

Pape said he worried that a similar mob could be summoned again by a leader like Trump. After all, he suggested, as the country continues moving toward becoming a majority-minority nation and right-wing media outlets continue to stoke fear about the Great Replacement, the racial and cultural anxieties that lay beneath the riot at the Capitol are not going away.

“If all of this is really rooted in the politics of social change, then we have to realize that it’s not going to be solved—or solved alone—by law enforcement agencies,” Pape said. “This is political violence, not just ordinary criminal violence, and it is going to require both additional information and a strategic approach.”

 “We really still are at the beginning stages,” he said.

Research contact: @nytimes

He’s in it to win it: Biden enters presidential race

April 26, 2019

After months of hesitation and deliberation, former Vice President Joe Biden (D-Delaware) announced in a video posted at 6 a.m. on April 25 that he will run for the U.S. presidency to defend “the core values of this nation,” as well as America’s standing in the world at large.

This will be the 76-year-old’s third run for the highest office in the land, after spending eight years in the White House as President Obama’s ballast and sidekick. That relationship, alone, gives Biden an advantage: Access to the email supporter lists that drove the winning campaigns of 2008 and 2012.

Now, Biden becomes the 20th Democrat to enter the 2020 race—and enters as a high-profile candidate, with 36 years of experience in the U.S.Senate  and national politics.

Biden opened his video with a quote from the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

“We haven’t always lived up to these ideals. [Thomas] Jefferson himself didn’t. But we’ve never before walked away from them,” Biden said in the video.

Biden went on to compare Jefferson’s hometown at that time—Charlottesville, in Albemarle County, Virginia—with values it is identified with today, after the deadly clash between white nationalists and counter-protesters that occurred there in August 2017. He quoted President Donald Trump, referring to the president’s “very fine people on both sides” quote in the wake of the death of Heather Heyer at that march.

“In that moment, I knew the threat to this nation was unlike any I had ever seen in my lifetime,” Biden said, according to Politico. “I wrote at the time that we’re in a battle for the soul of this nation. Well, that’s even more true to today.”

Biden said that “history will look back, on four years of this president and all he embraces, as an aberrant moment in time. But if we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation — who we are — and I cannot stand by and watch that happen.”

According to a report by ABCNews.Go, he will hold his first event as a candidate at a union hall in Pittsburgh on April 29. Following his formal announcement, Biden’s first television interview will take place on ABC’s “The View” on April 26.

According to ABC News, Biden’s campaign will focus on three major pillars—rebuilding the middle class (“the backbone of this country”); demonstrating respected leadership on the world stage; and making democracy more inclusive, by fixing campaign finance, voting rights, and gerrymandering.

Over the next few weeks, Biden will take that message on the road to early voting states, including Iowa, South Carolina, Nevada, California and New Hampshire, before returning to Pennsylvania for a final kickoff event on May 18 in Philadelphia, with remarks focusing on “Unifying America,” according to Biden’s campaign website.

According to the latest Morning Consult/Politico poll numbers, Biden currently is leading the Democratic race with 30% of voters polled. He is followed by Bernie Sanders (24%), Pete Buttigieg (9%), and Kamala Harris (8%).

Research contact: @Joe Biden

Haters are outnumbered at ‘Unite the Right 2’ DC rally

August 14, 2018

The organizers expected as many as 400 people to attend the far right, white nationalist/neo-Nazi demonstration billed as Unite the Right 2 in Washington, D.C., on August 11—however they were way outnumbered by the crowd who showed up to protest bigotry and defend diversity, according to a report by Slate.

A small group of about 20 white supremacists—led by Jason Kessler, who also organized the Unite the Right rally last year in Charlottesville—traveled into Washington, D.C. via subway. When they emerged, counterprotestors were waiting for them—shouting, “Go home!” and “You’re not welcome here!”

While the white supremacists had a police escort and their opponents did not, many white nationalists left the rally early—disappointed by the lack of support and drowned out by the chanting of DC Unite Against Hate and about 40 other anti-racism groups, who gathered in a force of nearly 1,000 people to take a stand at the demonstration.

Other neo-Nazis simply did not show up. Kessler told CNN that he blamed the low turnout on logistical issues and confusion regarding the group’s transportation—a claim echoed by at least two men who spoke to reporters. “People are scared to come out after what happened last year,” one of the men added.

“Our message is to let everyone know we support each other,” Maurice Cook, a co-organizer for the March for Racial Justice, told the Washington, D.C. ABC-TV News affiliate, WJLA, where his group gathered in a “United Against Hate” counterprotest in Freedom Plaza.

Kaitlin Moore, 28, of Frederick, Maryland, told CNN she was participating in counterprotests in Lafayette Square to “show this is not okay.”

In a tweet on Saturday morning, President Donald Trump wrote, “We must come together as a nation.I condemn all types of racism and acts of violence. Peace to ALL Americans!”

According to CNN, “It was a departure from his comments a year ago, when he said there were ‘very fine people’ on both sides of the conflict in Charlottesville.”

Research contact@dpoliti