Jury deliberations underway in the federal lawsuit against the group “Unite the Right”

Deliberations began in a federal lawsuit against a white nationalist group.

According to the Associated Press, “two dozen white supremacists, neo-Nazis and white nationalist organizations” are accused of plotting to commit racist violence in Charlottesville. The jury is currently out to determine whether he is responsible for the violence at the Unite the Right rally held in 2017 and whether he is responsible for the injuries suffered by the plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit.

Before deliberations began, lawyers for the plaintiffs told jurors that the defendants “planned, executed and then celebrated” violent racist attacks. Text messages and social media posts from the defendants, including racist slurs and perceived threats of violence, were also disseminated.

The defendants’ lawyers have argued that injuries alone cannot prove that their clients conspired to commit violence. They also invoked the First Amendment to counter racist messages sent to the jury.

The Unite the Right rally was held August 11-12, 2017 in Charlottesville in response to the city’s plans to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

James Alex Fields Jr., an accused in the trial and a recognized admirer of Adolf Hitler, is currently serving a life sentence for driving his car through a crowd of counter-protesters. One of these counter-demonstrators, Heather Heyer, was killed and dozens more were injured in two days. Nine of these people filed a complaint.

The jury deliberated for more than seven hours without reaching a verdict. The trial will resume on Monday, November 22. The statue of Lee that sparked the rally was taken down last July.

For more Associated Press reporting, see below:

A jury began its deliberations on November 19, 2021 in a civil trial of white nationalists accused of conspiring to commit racist violence during the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in 2017. Above , White Nationalist protesters enter the entrance to Lee Park surrounded by counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12, 2017.
Photo AP / Steve Helber

Jurors will also decide whether the defendants are liable for compensatory and punitive damages for nine people who were physically injured or emotionally scarred by the violence.

Just before deliberations began on Friday morning, Judge Norman Moon said a juror had been fired because his two children may have been exposed to COVID-19 at school and were ordered to sit down. quarantined at home. Moon said the juror was not vaccinated and therefore posed a greater risk to others.

During a march on the University of Virginia campus, white nationalists surrounded the counter-demonstrators and shouted, “The Jews will not replace us!” and threw burning tiki torches at them. The next day, an avowed admirer of Adolf Hitler crashed into his car in a crowd, killing a woman and injuring 19.

The lawsuit seeks pecuniary damages and a ruling that the defendants violated the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs cited a 150-year-old law passed after the civil war to protect freed slaves from violence and protect their civil rights. Commonly known as the Ku Klux Klan Act, the law contains a rarely used provision that allows individuals to sue other citizens for civil rights violations.

The defendants used their pleadings to distance themselves from Fields.

Several defendants said they only resorted to violence after they or their associates had been assaulted. They blamed the violence on the anti-fascist protesters, known as the antifa, and also among themselves.

The lawsuit is funded by Integrity First for America, a nonprofit civil rights organization.

Statue removal
Deliberations began in a federal lawsuit against “two dozen white supremacists, neo-Nazis and white nationalist organizations” who are accused of plotting to commit racist violence in Charlottesville. Above, workers remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from Market Street Park on July 10, 2021 in Charlottesville, Virginia, a movement sparked the “Unite the Right” rally where Heather Heyer, 32, was killed .
Photo by Win McNamee / Getty Images

Updated 11/19/2021 6:03 PM ET: This story has been updated with additional information.

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