Trial for Neo-Nazi Accused of Killing Woman at Charlottesville 'Unite the Right' Rally set to Begin

The man allegedly responsible for driving a car into a crowd at a white supremacist rally in 2017 is set to appear for trial Monday. 

The "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, North Carolina turned to chaos in August 2017 after brawling, racist chants and smoke bombs which erupted in the streets. The mayhem went up another notch after a car sped through a crowd of counterprotesters, killing one and injuring dozens more.

The suspected driver was identified as 21-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. who was remembered in high school for his fascination with Nazism and idolizing Adolf Hitler. His attorneys declined AP News' request for comment, and have not provided any hints into how the defense will take shape. 

Though the trial is a step forward in providing justice, the wounds remain raw in Charlottesville and may do little in bridging the racial divide.  

“Hopefully, this will signal a chance for healing, although I am not entirely optimistic about that because the entire culture in which we live is so steeped these days in white supremacy and white nationalism that violence is becoming less an exception to the practice of American democracy and more like a brutal showing of it,” Lisa Woolfork, a University of Virginia professor who was in a crowd of counter-protesters, told AP News. 

The rally was one of the largest gatherings of white supremacists in a decade, with members of the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and other white nationalists in attendance – all in protest of the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. 

The day of the rally, President Trump came under fire after telling reporters that there should be "blame on both sides." 

“You had some very bad people in that group," Trump said. "But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”

However, on the anniversary of the deadly rally, Trump took a much more neutral stance, wanting peace for "ALL Americans." 

"The riots in Charlottesville a year ago resulted in senseless death and division," Trump tweeted in August. "I condemn all types of racism and acts of violence. Peace to ALL Americans!" 

Along with a murder charge, Fields also faces a separate trial for federal hate crimes.  

Pretrial didn't conclude a motive; however, after being detained, Fields showed intense signs of remorse after learning a woman was killed, according to a Charlottesville police detective testimony. 

Fields also later told the judge that he suffers from bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression and ADHD.

Join the Discussion

Editor's Pick