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Ohio Man Charged with Federal Hate Crimes in Charlottesville Rally Death

A federal grand jury sitting in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Charlottesville today charged an Ohio man with federal hate crimes, including a hate crime act that resulted in the death of Heather Heyer, for his actions during the Aug. 12, 2017 “Unite the Right Rally” in Charlottesville.

James Alex Fields Jr., 21, of Maumee, Ohio, was charged in an indictment returned earlier today with:

  • one count of a hate crime act resulting in the death of Heather Heyer (18 U.S.C. § 249);
  • 28 counts of hate crime acts causing bodily injury and involving an attempt to kill (18 U.S.C. § 249); and
  • one count of racially motivated violent interference with a federally protected activity (18 U.S.C. § 245(b)(2)), resulting in the death of Heather Heyer, for driving his car into a crowd of protestors on a downtown street in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“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. “Last summer’s violence in Charlottesville cut short a promising young life and shocked the nation. Today’s indictment should send a clear message to every would-be criminal in America that we aggressively prosecute violent crimes of hate that threaten the core principles of our nation. I want to thank the FBI as well as our fabulous prosecutors Stephen Curran, Christopher Kavanaugh, and Rachel Kincaid for their hard work on this case.”

According to the indictment, on the morning of Aug. 12, 2017, Fields arrived in and around the vicinity of Emancipation Park in Charlottesville. Multiple groups and individuals, including Fields, engaged in chants promoting or expressing white supremacist and other racist and anti-Semitic views. After an “unlawful assembly” was declared, rally participants, including Fields, dispersed the area. Fields returned to his vehicle and soon after drove to the vicinity of the intersection of Fourth and East Market streets in downtown Charlottesville.

As alleged in the indictment, Fields drove his car onto Fourth Street, a narrow, downhill, one-way street in downtown Charlottesville. At around the same time, a racially and ethnically diverse crowd of individuals was gathered at the bottom of the hill, at the intersection of Fourth and East Water streets. The indictment alleges that Fields slowly proceeded in his vehicle toward the crowd, stopped, and then observed the crowd while idling in his vehicle. Many of the individuals in the crowd were chanting and carrying signs promoting equality and protesting against racial and other forms of discrimination.

With no vehicle behind him, Fields slowly reversed his vehicle to the top of the hill near the intersection of Fourth and Market streets. Fields then rapidly accelerated, ran through a stop sign and across a raised pedestrian mall, and drove directly into the crowd, striking numerous individuals, killing Heather Heyer, and injuring many others. Fields’s vehicle stopped only when it struck another vehicle near the intersection of Fourth and Water streets. He then rapidly reversed his vehicle and fled the scene.

Read more at the Justice Department

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