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Jury finds Unite the Right organizers liable for $25 million

Jason Kessler, center, an organizer of the Unite the Right rally, attends a march to the White House on the rally’s anniversary in August 2018. Associated Press/Photo by Jacquelyn Martin

Jury finds Unite the Right organizers liable for $25 million

After deliberating since Friday, a jury in the U.S. District Court in Charlottesville, Va., ordered members of groups who attended the 2017 Unite the Right rally to pay punitive damages to nine people harmed during the demonstrations. Self-described white nationalists descended on the University of Virginia campus in Aug. 2017 to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit included some of the victims of James Alex Fields Jr., a self-avowed admirer of Adolf Hitler who rammed his car into a group of counterprotesters, injuring several people and killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer. The monthlong federal civil trial also featured testimony from plaintiffs who were beaten or subjected to racist taunts.

What is the verdict breakdown? For claims of violating state conspiracy law, perpetrating racial harassment and violence, and charges linked to Fields, the jury awarded plaintiffs more than $25 million in damages. The twelve members and five organizations who were sued argued during the trial that they had to defend themselves during violent clashes. The plaintiffs invoked the 150-year-old Ku Klux Klan Act that allows private citizens to sue others for civil rights violations.

Dig deeper: From the WORLD archives, read Jamie Dean’s report on the so-called alt-right and antifa movements after the Charlottesville violence.

Carolina Lumetta

Carolina is a WORLD reporter and a graduate of the World Journalism Institute and Wheaton College. She resides in Washington, D.C.


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