Feds Open Civil Rights Inquiry Into Va. Attack

Man charged with murder after car attack kills woman amid clashes in Charlottesville
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 13, 2017 6:03 AM CDT
Feds Open Civil Rights Inquiry Into Va. Attack
Rescue personnel help injured people after a car ran into a large group of protesters after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. The nationalists were holding the rally to protest plans by the city of Charlottesville to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert...   (Steve Helber)

US officials have opened a civil rights investigation into the deadly car attack that took place amid clashes of white nationalists and counter-demonstrators, reports the AP. The investigation was announced late Saturday by the US Attorney's Office for the Western District of Virginia and the FBI's Richmond field office. Attorney General Jeff Sessions says US Attorney Rick Mountcastle has begun the investigation and will have the full support of the Justice Department. Sessions says, "The violence and deaths in Charlottesville strike at the heart of American law and justice. When such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated." In other developments:

  • The man who allegedly plowed his car into a crowd of protesters, James Alex Fields Jr., a 20-year-old from Ohio, was charged with second-degree murder and three counts of malicious wounding, reports NBC 29.

  • Troy Dunigan, a 21-year-old from Chattanooga, Tenn., was charged with disorderly conduct; Jacob L. Smith, a 21-year-old from Louisa, Va., was charged with assault and battery; and James M. O'Brien, 44, of Gainesville, Fla., was charged with carrying a concealed handgun.
  • White nationalist Richard Spencer accused police of endangering lives in how they handled the rally, saying he "did not attempt to engage in any kind of violence. So the idea that I could be held responsible is absurd. It's like blaming the fire department for a fire." Spencer also said he found President Trump's comments on the violence to be "rather vague and kind of lame."
  • Fields' mother says he told her he was going to the rally and that she told him "to be careful" and peaceful.
  • Rally organizer Jason Kessler said whoever drove a car into counter-protesters "did the wrong thing." He said he was saddened people were hurt and criticized law enforcement's response, saying they did a poor job controlling the chaos to allow free speech.
(More Charlottesville, Va. stories.)

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