A white supremacist has been handed a life sentence behind bars, plus 419 years on federal hate charges for deliberately mowing down an anti-racism protester during a white nationalist rally in Virginia.
James Alex Fields Jr. killed one person and injured dozens during the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville on August 12, 2017.
The 22-year-old was handed a life prison sentence on 29 federal hate crime charges.
According to laws in the US state, Judge Richard Moore was allowed to go lower than the state jury’s sentence recommendation, but not allowed to go higher. It’s reported the state sentence is mostly symbolic because of his previous sentence on the federal charges.
As reported by CBS, Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University said: ‘For his purposes, he has one life to give, so this is a largely academic exercise.’
Fields, who kept a photo of Adolf Hitler on his bedside table, travelled from his home in Maume, Ohio, to the Charlottesville rally, which was attended by hundreds of white nationalists, to protest the removal of the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
Police were forced to declare an unlawful assembly and ordered the groups to disband before the rally could begin after violence broke out between the two sides.
Later the same day, Fields drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing Heather Heyer, 32, and injuring dozens more.
President Donald Trump sparked even more controversy after he blamed violence on ‘both sides’ of the rally, in a statement critics claimed was a refusal to condemn racism.
Last month, Fields admitted purposely driving his car into the counterprotesters who arrived to demonstrate against the white nationalists.
In court, it’s reported he said:
I apologise for the hurt and loss I’ve caused.
Every day I think about how things could have gone differently and how I regret my actions. I’m sorry.
His statement came after survivors and witnesses gave emotional testimonies about the physical and psychological injuries they received in the attack.
Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, spoke about her daughter’s killer in court, as reported by WCAV:
I never wish for the death penalty and still don’t. I would like to see him change in time from a white supremacist to someone who helps bring others away from white supremacy.
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Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining the LADbible Group team in 2017.