White supremacist and self-proclaimed neo-Nazi James Fields, who ran his car into a crowd of people protesting the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville last year, has been found guilty of murder.
Fields was found guilty of first-degree murder for killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer as well as nine other charges, which include aggravated malicious wounding and leaving the scene of a fatal accident. He faces a possible life sentence in prison.
Last year white supremacists showed up in Charlottesville, Virginia for the “Unite the Right” rally. The city was chosen by anti-Semites because of a local Confederate monument that city leaders were trying to remove. Things turned violent quickly after members of the hate group clashed with counter protestors while police officers stood by.
When Fields ran his Dodge Challenger into the large group of counterprotesters the event had already been shut down by authorities and many of the victims were on their way home.
Fields faced a jury of seven women and five men during the nine-day trial. Many of his victims testified and were present for the reading of the verdict, including Star Peterson, a single mother whose legs and back were broken in the crash, and Constance Paige Young, who said after the verdicts were read that the case would “set a precedent that this white nationalist violence that has been present since this nation’s inception is no longer tolerable.”
Prosecutors during the trial argued the Fields attended the rally with the intention of causing harm. Entered into evidence was a text message exchange between Fields and his mother where his mother told him to be careful and Fields responded with “We’re not the one[s] who need to be careful,” accompanied by a photo of Adolf Hitler. However, Field’s lawyers argued that “there’s no evidence he came prepared to do any harm.” Video footage from the day showed Fields’ car idling and backing up before plowing into the crowd.
The weekend in Charlottesville last year kicked off with a pre-rally march with torches to the statue of Thomas Jefferson at the University of Virginia. Several incidents of violence happened throughout the day, including the violence we caught on camera of De’Andre Harris being beaten by white supremacists with poles. Those same men also pulled guns on our reporter. Several white supremacists involved in the weekend’s violence, including one involved in Harris’s beating, have already been found guilty.
— Zach D Roberts (@zdroberts) August 12, 2017
The news of Fields’ conviction is being celebrated by anti-racist activists:
— The Daily Progress (@DailyProgress) December 8, 2018