White Supremacist Rally Organizers Responsible for Charlottesville Violence

Photo credit: Bloomberg

A jury has found that the main organizers for the 2017 Charlottesville far-right rally were responsible for the violence and liable for millions in damages. 

More than $25 million in damages against white nationalists will be awarded to nine victims who were physically or emotionally injured over the violent two day rally. The white supremacists were accused of promoting and carrying out violence stemmed by racism during the rally “Unite the Right.” 

Experts say that the verdict is a rebuke to the white supremacist movement, especially directly against the organizations and the individuals within them who are being held responsible for promoting and pushing violence against minority groups including Black Americans and Jewish people. 

Richard Spencer, a notorious white supremacist, said he would be appealing the verdict. Other well-known supremacists, rally-organizer Jason Kessler and neo-Nazi podcaster Christopher Cantwell, are also directly accused of inciting and plotting violence. 

But 150 years ago, a law was passed in the U.S. to shield freed slaves from violence and protect their rights, known as the Ku Klux Klan Act. Within the law is a rarely used provision in which private citizens can sue individuals for violations against civil rights. 

The civil suit trial lasted nearly a month and was heard in the U.S. District Court in Charlottesville. The jury is still deadlocked on two other claims, but on Tuesday announced a decision that the main organizers were indeed responsible for the violence and therefore liable for four counts within the lawsuit, and responsible for damages under state law. 

The outstanding two claims on federal conspiracy charges will be likely refiled as a suit in order for a new jury to deliberate. The plaintiffs’ lawyers said that the amount of damages that has been awarded is “eye opening,” and that the dollar figure sends a message to the U.S. public.

Experts say that this verdict alone shows that the organizers were responsible for inciting violence sheerly motivated by race, religion, and ethnicity. 

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