CHARLOTTESVILLE | Feds open civil rights investigation; 3 more men arrested
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP)
U.S. officials have opened a civil rights investigation into the circumstances of the deadly car attack that took place amid clashes of white nationalists and counter-demonstrators here, and three more men have been arrested.
The investigation was announced late Saturday by officials of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia and the Richmond field office of the FBI.
In a statement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said U.S. Attorney Rick Mountcastle has begun the investigation and will have the full support of the Justice Department.
Sessions says, “The violence and deaths in Charlottesville strike at the heart of American law and justice.”
He added, “When such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated.”
Three people died during the violent day.
A 32-year-old woman was killed when a car plowed into a crowd of protesters. The driver, James Alex Fields Jr., a 20-year-old from Ohio, was charged with second-degree murder.
Two state police troopers were killed when their helicopter crashed in the woods on the outskirts of town.
Virginia State Police announced late Saturday that the other three arrested are Troy Dunigan, a 21-year-old from Chattanooga, Tennessee, was charged with disorderly conduct; Jacob L. Smith, a 21-year-old from Louisa, Virginia, was charged with assault and battery; and James M. O’Brien, 44, of Gainesville, Florida, was charged with carrying a concealed handgun.
Meanwhile, a white nationalist is blaming police for the violence that erupted before and after the rally where he was scheduled to speak before it turned deadly.
Richard Spencer told The Associated Press Saturday that he doesn’t take responsibility for the violence and accused state and local police of endangering lives in how they handled the rally.
Spencer said he “did not attempt to engage in any kind of violence. So the idea that I could be held responsible is absurd. It’s like blaming the fire department for a fire.”
He said that he was pepper-sprayed twice during the day.
Spencer said he recommended that people should disperse after the state of emergency was declared.
Spencer also said he found President Donald Trump’s comments on the Charlottesville violence to be “rather vague and kind of lame.”