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Av Associated Press
RICHMOND, Va. ̵
1; A planned “unite right” rally of white nationalists in Charlottesville exploded in chaos: violent fighting in the streets, racist chants, smoke bombs and finally a car that fired into a lot of opponents, killed one and injured dozens more.
Then, President Donald Trump struck racist tensions when saying that “both sides” would be blamed, a comment that looked like a refusal to condemn racism.
Fifteen months later, as the man was accused of driving the car heads to trial for murder charges, the wounds are still raw. Getting in Charlottesville believes the trial will do a lot to heal the society or the country’s racial difference.
“Hopefully, this will signal a chance of healing, although I’m not entirely optimistic about it because the whole culture in which we live is so steep these days in white supremacy and white nationalism that violence becomes less an exception to American democracy and more like a brutal view of it, “said Lisa Woolfork, a professor in Virginia, who was in a lot of counter protests when the car seemed to come out nowhere on August 12, 2017.
Heather, 32, a paralegal and civil rights activist who marched about 100 meters from Woolfork, was killed. The death penalty rose to three when a state police helicopter supervised the event crashed and killed two soldiers.
The rally was partially organized to protest against planned removal of a statue by the Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Hundreds of Ku Klux Klan members, neo-Nazis and other white nationalists – emblemened by Trump’s election – streamed into college town for one of the biggest gatherings of white supremacists for a decade. The group’s strength training included dressing in combat tools, shouting raids and attacking opponents.
James Alex Fields Jr., a 21-year-old Ohio man known for high school to be fascinated by Nazi and idolatrous Adolf Hitler, heads to trial Monday in Charlottesville Circuit Court. His lawyers refused to comment and had no idea what his defense would be.
James Alex Fields Jr. Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Prison via EPA
Fields was photographed hours before the attack with a shield wearing the Vanguard Americas emblem, one of the hate groups that participated in the rally, even though the group denied any association with him.
Interrogations have offered few insights into Fields or his motivation. A Charlottesville police detective confirmed that he was imprisoned after the car crash, Fields said he was sad and sighed when he was told that a woman had been killed. Fields later told a judge to be treated for bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression and ADHD.
Prosecutors played surveillance video that showed the Fields’ Dodge Challenger head slowly in the opposites direction and then moves backward before they jump forward to opponents.
Star Peterson, whose right leg was almost crushed by Field’s car, has had five operations and still uses wheelchair and sugar cane. She has not been able to return to work and has been helped to pay the rent and other bills from Heal Charlottesville, a fund set up to help the injured.
Peterson said she had been told by prosecutors that she should be called a witness on Fields trial.
“I think there’s something I can do for Heather,” she said. “I will testify on her behalf.”
The White Nationalist Richard Spencer, who coined the term “okay,” said he never had any contact with Fields and did not plan to attend his trial. He said he hopes that the trial does not paint all members of the movement as violent.
“It’s a deeply disturbing incident and that this event can symbolize things I believe in and things that millions of people believe in, it would be very unfortunate, but I do not think it will be the case,” he said.
“I do not understand them about James Field’s debt or virginity. I only demand that he be given a fair trial. “
Instead of strengthening the right movement, the rally proved to be a disaster. The leader’s leaders fight for trial and have been suspended by common internet platforms. One year anniversary meeting near the White House constituted only about 30 white nationalists.
Heyers Mother Susan Bro created the Heather Heyer Foundation to honor her daughter and give scholarships to lawyers, law studies, social work, social justice and education.
Bro said she is doubtful that the trial will give her some sense of closure. Also in front of a separate trial on federal hate crime charges.
“I’m not obsessed with him,” she says about Fields. “I feel I’ve turned him over to the legal system. He is their problem, not mine. “