(RNS] — A jury found that the group that organized the 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville (Virginia) is liable for injuries sustained by counterprotesters. The jury awarded a total amount of $26 millions in damages.
The jury was unable to reach a verdict on two federal conspiracy cases. However, it found the defendants (including white nationalist activists Richard Spencer and Jason Kessler) liable for civil conspiration to commit violence and intimidation in violation of a state law.
“This incident has sent a clear signal: violence hate won’t be ignored,” said Amy Spitalnick (head of Integrity First for America), the non-profit that organized it.
Religious leaders were among those who responded to white nationalists’ attack on Virginia City in August 2017.. The Rev. Traci Blackmon, an official of the United Church of Christ, was preaching against white supremacy when right-wing activists gathered at the University of Virginia to hold a torchlight rallies , shouting “Jews won’t replace us!” and other chants.
Another plaintiff was the Rev., a UCC minister. Seth Wispelwey was also among those counterdemonstrators who were berated by racists on the following day. Some clergy members offered pastoral care for the wounded and distraught when a far right demonstrator later drove through counterprotesters, mowing them down with his car and killing Heather Heyer. He is currently serving multiple life sentences.
The plaintiffs also issued a collective statement citing the verdict as a victory for victims of right-wing extremists in Charlottesville, which they listed as “everyone else in the Charlottesville community who stood up against hate in August 2017.”
” Our greatest hope is that today’s verdict will inspire others to feel more secure raising their collective voices in the future, to speak up for human rights and against white supremacy,” said the statement.
The Anti-Defamation League also applauded this result.
” We welcome today’s jury verdict that found defendants guilty in four counts and awarded more $25million in punitive damages,” stated Jonathan Greenblatt CEO of ADL. “This case against extremists was one of the most significant in modern history. It exposed the hateful motivations of defendants and impaired them ability to take further action
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