Driver at white rally convicted of murder
Man found guilty of 8 other charges, including hit and run
A man who drove his car into counterprotesters at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017 is convicted of firstdegree murder.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — A man who drove his car into counterprotesters at a 2017 white nationalist rally in Virginia was convicted Friday of firstdegree murder, a verdict that local civil rights activists hope will help heal a community still scarred by the violence and the racial tensions it inflamed nationwide.
A state jury rejected defense 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 aggra vated 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 32yearold paralegal and civil rights activist, was killed, and nearly three dozen others were injured. The trial featured emotional testimony from survivors who described devastating injuries and long, complicated recoveries.
After the verdict was read in court, some of those who were injured embraced Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro. She left the courthouse without commenting. Fields’ mother, Samantha Bloom, who is disabled, left the courthouse in a wheelchair without commenting.
Charlottesville civil rights activist Tanesha Hudson said she sees the guilty verdict as the city’s way of saying, “We will not tolerate this in our city.
“We don’t stand for this type of hate. We just don’t,” she said.
Activists raised their fists Friday outside Charlottesville General District Court after a guilty verdict was reached in the trial of James Alex Fields Jr. for first degree murder, as well as eight other counts.
JAMES ALEX FIELDS JR.