Charlottesville attack suspect charged with hate crimes
A reputed Hitler admirer accused of plowing a car into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, killing a young woman, was charged Wednesday with federal hate crimes in a case that stirred accusations last summer that President Donald Trump was giving a free pass to racists.
James Alex Fields Jr., who already faced murder and other charges under Virginia law, was indicted on 30 additional federal charges stemming from the 2017 attack that killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injured dozens of others who had gathered to protest a rally of white nationalists.
“At the Department of Justice, we remain resolute that hateful ideologies will not have the last word and that their adherents will not get away with violent crimes against those they target,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “Last summer’s violence in Charlottesville cut short a promising young life and shocked the nation.”
With his statement and the decision to bring the charges, Sessions struck a sharply different tone than the president, who sparked an uproar last year when he blamed the violence at the rally on “both sides.”
Described by a former teacher as having a keen interest in Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler, Fields allegedly drove his speeding car into a group of people demonstrating against the “Unite the Right” rally. The Aug. 12 event drew hundreds of white nationalists to the college town, where officials planned to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
The car attack came after the rally had descended into chaos, with brawling breaking out between white nationalists and counterdemonstrators.