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‘Unite the Right’ Rally Organizers Liable For More Than $25 Million In Damages

A jury in Charlottesville, Virginia ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in the trial of the “Unite The Right” rally organizers, awarding more than $25 million in damages.

The jury found that Richard Spencer, Christopher Cantwell, and Jason Kessler were responsible for damages for conspiracy to commit violence, assault and battery, racial harassment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

However, the jury did not decide on two of the case’s most significant claims, which argued that the defendants participated in a conspiracy to commit racial violence that violated federal law.

The verdict comes after four weeks of proceedings and two days of jury deliberation in a trial held more than four years after the events of Aug. 11 and 12, 2017.

Nine victims of violence that occurred during the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally filed suit against the rally’s key organizers, accusing them of deliberately creating the conditions that led to a violent, chaotic, and racist event. Lawyers for the defendants, a coalition of 24 far-right groups and individuals, denied those claims in court.

On Aug. 11, 2017, several hundred white supremacists gathered with torches around the statue of Thomas Jefferson in Charlottesville, chanting “White Lives Matter” and “Jews will not replace us,” where they were met by a group of counter-protesters and violence broke out.

The following day, a rally on the Downtown Mall turned violent when James Fields drove his car into a group of counter-protestors, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others.

The nonprofit group that backed the plaintiffs’ lawsuit called the ruling a victory.

“Our plaintiffs have won their lawsuit against the Nazis, white supremacists, & hate groups behind the deadly Unite the Right violence in Charlottesville,” the organization “Integrity First For Americatweeted on Tuesday. “This is a HISTORIC legal victory against the forces of violent hate that threaten our communities & our democracy.”

This case has sent a clear message: violent hate won’t go unanswered. There will be accountability,” Integrity First for America Executive Director Amy Spitalnick said in a statement. “These judgments underscore the major financial, legal, and operational consequences for violent hate — even beyond the significant impacts this case has already had. And at a moment of rising extremism, major threats to our democracy, and far too little justice, this case has provided a model for accountability.”

 

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