MAN GUILTY OF FIRST-DE­GREE MUR­DER IN CAR-RAM­MING DEATH AT WHITE NA­TION­AL­IST RALLY

Tampa Bay Times - - Nation & World -

A man who drove his car into a crowd of coun­ter­protesters at a white na­tion­al­ist rally in Vir­ginia was con­victed Fri­day of first-de­gree mur­der for killing a woman in an at­tack that in­flamed long-sim­mer­ing racial and po­lit­i­cal ten­sions across the coun­try. A state jury re­jected ar­gu­ments that James Alex Fields Jr. acted in self­de­fense dur­ing a “Unite the Right” rally in Char­lottes­ville on Aug. 12, 2017. Jurors also con­victed Fields of eight other charges, in­clud­ing ag­gra­vated ma­li­cious wound­ing and hit and run. Fields, 21, drove to Vir­ginia from his home in Maumee, Ohio, to sup­port the white na­tion­al­ists. As a large group of coun­ter­protesters marched through Char­lottes­ville singing and laugh­ing, he stopped his car, backed up, then sped into the crowd, ac­cord­ing to tes­ti­mony from wit­nesses and video sur­veil­lance shown to jurors. Prose­cu­tors told the jury that Fields was an­gry af­ter wit­ness­ing vi­o­lent clashes be­tween the two sides ear­lier in the day. The vi­o­lence prompted po­lice to shut down the rally be­fore it even of­fi­cially be­gan. Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old para­le­gal and civil rights ac­tivist, was killed, and nearly three dozen oth­ers were in­jured. The far-right rally was or­ga­nized in part to protest the planned re­moval of a statue of Con­fed­er­ate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Hun­dreds of Ku Klux Klan mem­bers, neoNazis and other white na­tion­al­ists — em­bold­ened by the elec­tion of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump — had streamed into the col­lege town for one of the largest gath­er­ings of white su­prem­a­cists in a decade. Some dressed in bat­tle gear. After­ward, Trump in­flamed ten­sions even fur­ther when he said “both sides” were to blame, a com­ment some saw as a re­fusal to con­demn racism.

James Alex Fields Jr.

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