The man charged with the murder of a young woman at last year’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, has been indicted on federal hate crime charges.
James A. Fields Jr., 21, drove his car into a crowd of counter-protestors on August 12, 2017, at the white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring more than a dozen others. The rally, organized by alt-right and white nationalist groups, was allegedly planned to protest the city’s plan to tear down Confederate monuments, including a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The event attracted white supremacists and alt-right activists from as far away as Washington State.
Fields was indicted at the state level on 10 felony counts, including first-degree murder, in December 2017. Before ramming his Dodge Challenger into a crowd, he was reportedly marching alongside one of the groups present at the rally, Vanguard America.
In a statement regarding the federal hate crimes indictment, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, “At the Department of Justice, we remain resolute that hateful ideologies will not have the last word and that their adherents will not get away with violent crimes against those they target.” Sessions added, “Last summer’s violence in Charlottesville cut short a promising young life and shocked the nation. Today’s indictment should send a clear message to every would-be criminal in America that we aggressively prosecute violent crimes of hate that threaten the core principles of our nation.”
Though the organizers of “Unite the Right” are in the midst of a lawsuit over the events of last year, one organizer, Jason Kessler, has received tentative permission to stage another rally this August — this time, outside of the White House.