Hundreds of American Nazis descended on Charlottesville, Virginia this weekend, unleashing a wave of violence that culminated in the death of a 32-year-old female counterdemonstrator whose name had not been made public as of Saturday night.
On Saturday afternoon, 20-year-old James Fields of Maumee, Ohio drove his car into a crowd of people protesting the “unite the right” gathering. Fields, who was subsequently identified as a Nazi, deliberately idled his car on a side street and repositioned his vehicle, waiting for the demonstration to approach before speeding into the crowd at 40 miles per hour. He is in custody and has been charged with murder.
Fields injured 19 other counterdemonstrators, sending bodies flying over the hood of his car before attempting to escape from the scene. Fourteen others were hurt during Saturday’s Nazi rampage.
American Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, the pro-Trump “Proud Boys” and other fascists organized the “unite the right” demonstration to prevent the city of Charlottesville—home to the University of Virginia—from removing a statue of Robert E. Lee, the commanding general of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, from a park.
Early Saturday morning, dozens of militiamen armed with assault rifles, shotguns and hunting knives deployed throughout the city to “protect” the Nazi demonstrators. Dressed in camouflage uniforms resembling the US Army’s combat fatigues as well as confederate flag insignia, the militia established control of the city’s downtown like an occupying force without being confronted by the police. Throughout the day, Nazis armed with shields, pepper spray and metal poles attacked counterdemonstrators as police looked on. Others marched with official campaign signs from Trump’s 2016 presidential run.
The night before, hundreds of Nazis took over the University of Virginia campus and held a torchlight march, chanting “one people, one nation, end immigration,” “seig heil,” and “blood and soil,” an anti-Semitic chant used by the German Nazis.
President Donald Trump waited hours to make a public statement after Saturday’s attack before stating, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. On many sides.”
Trump’s attempts to blame peaceful anti-fascist demonstrators as complicit in the riot was greeted with praise by the Nazi press. The Daily Stormer said: “Trump comments were good. He didn’t attack us… He implied that there was hate on both sides! So he implied the antifa [anti-fascists] are haters. He said he loves us all.”
At a press conference Saturday afternoon, Trump repeatedly refused to answer questions from the press as to whether he would denounce the Nazi violence. The Daily Stormer noted, “When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room. Really, really good. God bless him.” Vice President Mike Pence made similar statements failing to condemn the Nazi provocation.