Weekend attack reveals local ties

Photo courtesy of Slate Magazine | An injured person is carted off on a stretcher this weekend in Charlottesville, Va. James Alex Fields, Jr., of Northern Kentucky is accused of driving a car into a crowd of protestors, killing one and injuring 19 other.

National outrage was ignited by a local source in Charlottesville, Va., this weekend. James Alex Fields, Jr., 20, born in Kenton, Ky., has been charged with second-degree murder and is accused of driving a car into a crowd of demonstrators, killing one and injuring 19 others.

Prior to the incident, an array of White supremacist, Neo-Nazi and far-right groups had collected in the college town of Charlottesville. The gathering was in response to the town’s removal of a statue of the Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

“I think it’s ridiculous that people were mad about the statue being taken down, because of what the Confederacy stood for,” senior international economics and French major Megan Slack said. “I think the Donald Trump presidency has emboldened people who are Neo-Nazi supporters.”

The night before the rally was slated to take place, a group of about 100 White nationalists marched through the University of Virginia in Charlottesville with tiki torches, chanting “sieg heil” and giving the Nazi salute.

There was a small group of counterprotesters at the university who were allegedly attacked by the demonstrators with pepper spray and were also beaten.

On Saturday, the planned day of the rally, the demonstrators were met by an equal number of counterprotesters that consisted of anti-fascists, anti-racists and other leftist groups.

Clashes broke out between the groups, injuring at least 15. People were reportedly throwing rocks and bottles and using chemical sprays against each other.

At approximately 1:42 p.m., a gray Dodge Challenger rammed through a crowd of peaceful counter demonstrators, killing one and injuring 19 others.

Videos and pictures from the attack show the car speeding through the crowd at approximately 30 to 40 mph, throwing people’s bodies several feet into the air.

The car then reversed at speed out of the area, leaving behind people on the ground, while others called for medics.

Slack, who first saw videos of the attack on Twitter, recalled what she saw.

“I got really upset. I watched one of the videos and was in tears,” Slack said. “It was horrible to watch. I was in disbelief.”

The driver of the car was later identified as Fields. He was seen marching with the White supremacist group Vanguard America, holding a shield with the group’s emblem.
After the picture went viral, the group denied that he was a member and claimed that the shields were handed out to anyone in attendance.

Several news outlets have also published recent postings that are believed to have originated from one of Fields social media accounts.

The postings show support for the alt-right, nazism and fascism.

In addition to second-degree murder, his charges include one count of hit-and- run, failure to stop with injury and three counts of malicious wounding. He is being held without bail.

The FBI has opened up a civil rights investigation into the attack.

Some on social media have criticized the press and law enforcement for not treating the attack as a terrorist incident.

A Virginia State Police helicopter crashed while monitoring the demonstrations, killing two on board, bringing the death toll related to the demonstrations up to three.

“It’s disturbing, it’s painful to see how much hatred people have,” Slack said “It just sucks to realize that everything is a lot more screwed up than I used to think it was.”

By: Savin Mattozzi ~Copy Editor~