This decision is a costly one for famous racists such as Richard Spencer, Christopher Cantwell and Jason Kessler, forcing them to pay a total of millions of dollars to their victims. The jury failed to reach a decision on two of the largest claims of the case, which argued that the defendants engaged in a conspiracy to commit racial violence in violation of federal law.
The ruling came after 22 days of testimonies and intense deliberation about Rightwing Solidarity, the deadly 2017 white far-right party rally in Charlottesville. In their lawsuit Sines v. Kessler, 9 Unite the Right victims have filed a lawsuit against key participants of the protest, accusing them of knowingly facilitating a violent, racist event. The defendants, a coalition of 24 far-right groups and individuals, denied those claims in court. Although the defendants frequently used racist rhetoric on the witness stand, they argued that they were not actively conspiring to cause violence at the two-day event, when the subject white supremacists attacked protestors with fists, tiki torches and a car.
Integrity First For America, the nonprofit that supports the plaintiffs’ lawsuit, called the ruling a victory.
“Our plaintiffs won their case against Nazi Germany, white supremacists and the hate groups behind the deadly violence of right-wing Solidarity in Charlottesville. ”, the organization tweeted on Tuesday. “This is a HISTORIC legal victory against the violent hostile forces that threaten our communities and our democracy.”
The jury (11 instead of 12, after one left in the middle of a trial due to COVID-19 exposure) was asked to rule on six claims against the defendants. The multifaceted nature of the case means that some defendants can be found guilty with certain claims, while others are cleared.
The jury announced Tuesday afternoon that it could not reach a unanimous verdict on two of the case’s key claims, which allege that white supremacists engaged in a negative criminal conspiracy to commit racial violence. However, the jury agreed that all defendants engaged in such a conspiracy in a manner that violated Virginia civil law. The jury also found that the defendants committed violence and harassment toward the plaintiff.
That ruling undercuts the defendants’ longtime adamant that the violence at Unite the Right was spontaneous and unplanned, and that the event organizers were not responsible.
Discovering the Virginia conspiracy comes with severe penalties. The jury slapped the individual defendants of the case $500,000 per punitive defendant and groups with $1 million each punitive defendant. Defendant James Fields Jr., now serving life in prison for the murder of a protester in his vehicle at Unite the Right, was fined an additional $6 million in punitive damages.
The conclusion of the case will mean compensation for the plaintiffs, who have argued the protest has left them struggling with injuries and huge medical bills. The jury awarded nine plaintiffs more than $25 million.
The previous seven defendants were dismissed, largely due to a lack of cooperation. Among them were Andrew Anglin and Robert “Azzmador” Ray, a pair of neo-Nazis who had evaded court dates. Other default rulings were given to the white supreme leader Augustus Sol Invictus, as well as Anglin’s company Moonbase Holdings, two branches of the Ku Klux Klan, the Alt-Knight (single wing) fraternity. of the paramilitary group Proud Boys) and the National Front. (a now-dissolved consortium of several other white extremist groups).
The first two statements allege the defendants violated federal law to participate in a conspiracy to commit racial violence (the third claim makes the same argument under Virginia civil law). The last three claims relate to alleged attacks by plaintiffs at Unite the Right.
The high-profile case, which lasted four years, caused shock waves long before it was brought to trial.
NS Sines v. Kessler The discovery process forced some of the defendants to turn over their contact information (others resisted, some claimed their phones were dropped in the toilet) to the court. Some of those messages shed light on white supremacist networks, revealing funding structure and their contact information before and after the Consolidation of Rights.
In spite of Sines v. Kessler is a civil case, leading to the neglect of crimes for many defendants who refuse to comply with the Court’s orders. These include Ray, who is now on the run, and white supremacist Elliott Kline, who was briefly jailed for refusing to produce court-ordered documents.
The case also led to financial troubles for the defendants. Before the trial, the Vanguard America team was asked to pay more than $16,000 for the withholding of the documents. Kline and white extremist leader Matthew Heimbach were also fined more than $12,000.
Regulatory pressure after right-wing unity appears to have fueled already difficult rifts in the far-right. Vanguard America dispersed shortly after the protest, possibly because the neo-Nazi James Fields Jr., who murdered a protester with a car at Unite the Right, marched the same group. (A Vanguard America subgroup, the Patriotic Front, is still active.) Heimbach’s group, the Traditionalist Workers’ Party, also dissolved (in this case by domestic violence incidents between members), while the Identity group Evropa, another group Sines v. Kessler defendants, renamed the American Identity Movement and then completely dissolved.
During the test, Charlottesville residents attacked at Unite the Right were able to confront the protest organizers. Many spoke of the trauma and trauma sustained from the protest, but also of their fierce commitment to stand with their communities during the weekend of terror.
Plaintiff Natalie Romero, a University of Virginia student at the time of the attack, testified that she felt an obligation to the city and her classmates.
“I love Charlottesville,” Romero told the court last month. “I wanted to be there for the community.”
https://www.thedailybeast.com/white-supremacists-found-liable-for-dollar25-million-in-damages-over-deadly-unite-the-right-rally?source=articles&via=rss White supremacists found liable for $25 million in deadly damages for rightly uniting protest