City of Charlottesville and Activists Sue White Supremacist Leaders

By Sameer Rao Oct 13, 2017

A new pair of federal and state lawsuits aim to hold a variety of White hate groups and figureheads accountable for the violent outcomes of the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12. Slate reports that yesterday, (October 12), 11 plaintiffs filed a complaint against National Policy Institute leader Richard Spencer, right-wing radio personality Christopher Cantwell, several Ku Klux Klan affiliates and other "Unite the Right" speakers. The filing accuses defendants of deliberately inciting the rally’s devolution into lethal and racist violence

There is one thing about this case that should be made crystal-clear at the outset—the violence in Charlottesville was no accident. Under the pretext of a “rally,” which they termed “Unite the Right,” Defendants spent months carefully coordinating their efforts, on the internet and in person. They exhorted each other: “If you want to defend the South and Western civilization from the Jew and his dark-skinned allies, be at Charlottesville on 12 August,” and, “Next stop: Charlottesville, VA. Final stop: Auschwitz.” In countless posts on their own websites and on social media, Defendants and their co-conspirators promised that there would be violence in Charlottesville, and violence there was. As Defendant Eli Mosley, one of the lead organizers for the rally, declared: “We are [] going to Charlottesville. Our birthright will be ashes & they’ll have to pry it from our cold hands if they want it. They will not replace us without a fight.” 

Each of the plaintiffs, whom the suit describes as "White, Brown, and Black; Christian and Jewish; young and old," mention either physical or emotional distress they suffered during and after the rally. One plaintiff says that The Daily Stormer website, a defendant, tried to intimidate her by posting a picture of her and her son at counter protests. Another plaintiff reports being diagnosed with acute distress disorder after defendant James Alex Fields Jr. almost hit her during the vehicular assault that allegedly killed activist Heather Heyer. Yet another plaintiff claims to have been struck by Fields’ car. All of the plaintiffs seek compensation for injuries and distress. They also want damages for conspiracy, the violation of civil rights and terrorism—all felonies. 

Spencer called the lawsuit "completely frivolous" in a statement to Reuters/Raw Story

Slate adds that the city of Charlottesville, in conjunction with local businesses and neighborhood associations, filed another lawsuit in circuit court. That filing names a mix of White-supremacist and right-wing paramilitary groups, as well as one leftist group—the Socialist Rifle Association—as plaintiffs. The suit alleges that paramilitary groups present during "Unite the Right" violated state and federal laws that require government regulation of any armed group. The lawsuit also accuses these groups of endangering local residents and harming the city’s economic potential. The plaintiffs hope for an injunction that prevents paramilitary groups from assembling in Charlottesville.

The "Unite the Right" rallies coalesced in protest of the city’s planned removal of a monument to Confederate general Robert E. Lee. The New York Times reports that Spencer and about 50 White supremacists staged another tiki torch-lit action in the city last Saturday (October 7).