Showing posts with label Charlotte. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Charlotte. Show all posts

November 27, 2018

Jury Selection Begins For The Supremacist Trump Man That Drove Car Into Crowd Killing Heather Heyer

Jury selection begins today in the trial of the man accused of ramming his car through a crowd of people protesting a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. James Alex Fields, Jr. is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Heather Heyer, and faces additional charges of malicious wounding.
One of those wounded was Star Peterson. When the August 12, 2017 "Unite the Right" rally erupted in violence, Peterson was with a multi-racial group of counter-protesters marching downtown. She didn't see the gray Dodge Challenger coming from behind, accelerating down a hill on a narrow one-way street.
"I just heard three bumps," she recalls. "Two of them were his left tires going over my leg."
Star Peterson was injured when a car rammed into a crowd in August, 2017, during a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.
Debbie Elliott/NPR
Sporting neon-pink pigtails and a Black Lives Matter t-shirt, 38-year-old Peterson now uses a cane for walking. She's had five surgeries and has not been able to go back to work due to the severity of her injuries.
"He broke both of my legs, two parts of my spine, and one rib and then [I] also had a pretty big laceration that had to be sewn up," she says.
Peterson plans to testify at the trial.
"I need to do something for Heather other than just lay flowers at her grave and if I can be part of prosecuting the person who killed her then that's something I can do for her memory," says Peterson.  
Authorities say Fields, a 21-year old white man from Ohio, deliberately plowed his car into the anti-racist demonstration and say he had earlier participated in the rally with chants promoting white supremacy.Image result for Fields, a 21-year old white man from Ohio,
Fields have pleaded not guilty. His court-appointed defense attorney, Denise Lunsford, declined to comment on the case.
Lunsford has sought to have the trial moved outside of Charlottesville, arguing the impact of the event on local residents and widespread publicity will prevent Fields from getting a fair and reasonable trial.
Charlottesville Circuit Court Judge Richard E. Moore has taken the defense motion for a change of venue under advisement. He says if an impartial jury cannot be found from the large jury pool of 360 people, he will revisit the matter.
Key evidence from prosecutors will include graphic videos shared on social media by witnesses.
"I feel like the court's going to be watching my daughter die again, over and over and over," says Susan Bro, Heather Heyer's mother.
She's ready to get the trial over with and hopes selecting a jury won't prove to be an issue.
"I want them to have a completely fair and impartial trial," she says. "I don't want to have to redo this 15 times."
She says she feels like the process could go on for years if there are appeals. But no matter what happens, she wants to see the case through.
"I have never hated Mr. Fields because I felt like he's in the hands of justice now," says Bro. "But I do pray that justice prevails here."
The broader community is also looking for justice as it seeks to reconcile the forces that made Charlottesville shorthand for racial strife.
"Where we go from here I don't I don't know," says Don Gathers, co-founder of the local chapter of Black Lives Matter.
Don Gathers, a deacon at historic First Baptist Church and co-founder of the Charlottesville chapter of Black Lives Matter.
Debbie Elliott/NPR
"We've got to figure out how to make Charlottesville more than just a hash tag again, and more than just a blip on the racist history of this country," he says.
Gathers has served on several citizen advisory panels — including the city's Blue Ribbon Commission on Race, Memorials, and Public Spaces.
He says there's been an awakening that this is the focus of a new civil rights battle.
"We've reached a point now that we've got to stop having the conversations about race and start talking about the real elephant in the room which is racism."
Addressing systemic racism is a goal of the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation. It's raised over a million dollars for the Heal Charlottesville Fund.
"Part of what we heard from our community that was needed for the healing was opportunities to act, opportunities to really be good and honest about our collective history," says Foundation President Brennan Gould. "And also to start to act in ways that that will help address the impacts of that history."
The foundation has funded an initiative to increase teacher diversity for instance and to improve security in the Jewish Community. Gould says the ongoing focus is helping injured survivors with myriad needs including rent, utilities, medical bills, and counseling.
"It seemed like the world had moved on in a way," she says. "And yet people were still very much living and dealing with the consequence of that tragedy."
One way the fund helps survivors is through a grant to social worker Matthew Christensen at Partner for Mental Health. He serves as a navigator, helping people deal with things like filling out disability applications or finding accessible housing.
"It's a lot of whatever they need," says Christensen.
Right now they need help coping with the trial, which he says could be re-traumatizing. But Christensen says the trial itself is an opportunity for accountability.
"For the perpetrator to face real consequences because that's something that people struggle with — not seeing the organizers like Jason Kessler or Richard Spencer face real consequences legally for organizing this rally."
Four rally participants have been convicted related to the violence, but rally organizers have not been charged with any crime. The organizers face a civil lawsuit, however, brought by Charlottesville residents who sued under the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871.
Survivor Star Peterson is bracing for her testimony in Fields' trial. But she thinks justice will be elusive.
"There can't really be justice," Peterson says. "We can't undo what's been done. We can't bring Heather back."
If convicted on the Virginia charges, Fields could be sentenced up to life in prison.
He's also been indicted on federal hate crime charges, which allow for the death penalty.

August 22, 2017

Heather Heyer Has More Than One Killer but Mom Only Have Her Love

CDP 0820 vigil323.jpg

Surrounded by supporters, Kim and Susan Bro, left, became emotional on Saturday as he visited the site where Heather Heyer died exactly one week ago after a car plowed through a group of people on 4th Street SE. This was the couple’s first visit to the site. Photo/Andrew Shurtleff/The Daily Progress

“My hope is that people who see this or attend this know that the city and the people of Charlottesville will not be victim to hate again and we will not accept people that come in and bring their hatred into a city of love and diversity and art and music,” Kelsey Ripa, one of the organizers of the event.
Alex Benshoff, another organizer of the event, said he hopes they can help people feel like it’s like any other day in Charlottesville with the peace gathering while still respecting the victims of last week’s events.
“It should be just a normal day getting out there, showing the world while we're still in the world's eye that this is what Charlottesville is all about,” Benshoff said. “It's all about people getting together on the Downtown Mall, local business, music, and poetry and art and culture, you know?”
Priscilla and Chris Sonne, Nelson County residents, came out to the peace gathering because they wanted to show others that hanging out on the Downtown Mall and enjoying the company of others is closer to what defines the area than what happened Aug. 12.
“We felt like coming to this as just sort of a step toward saying, ‘Hey, this is more of who we are,’” Chris Sonne said. “This is a loving community and accepting community and we just wanted to be part of that as part of our own healing process for having seen what happened last weekend.
City police quickly arrested the driver of the car, 20-year-old James Alex Fields, Jr., of Maumee, Ohio. He has been charged with second-degree murder in Heyer’s death and faces five counts of malicious wounding, three counts of aggravated malicious wounding and one count of hit-and-run.

Later that day, two Virginia State Police officers who had assisted in the law enforcement response died in a helicopter crash in Albemarle County. Jay Cullen of Midlothian and Berke Bates of Quinton died at the scene. This brought the death toll to three people on that day in which the people full of hate towards equality and love for their whiteness thought they were in another country and felt free to put back the hood or just come out on their polo shirts and kick and beat anybody on the opposite side of the fence...  [adamfoxie]

Michael Bragg is a reporter for The Daily Progress. Contact him at (434) 978-7265, or @braggmichaelc on Twitter.

August 16, 2017

Dillon Hopper (Sgt.USM) Self Appointed Commander of UltraRight Group of James Fields,Killer (alleged)

The leader of the neo-Nazi group that James Fields marched with in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday before allegedly killing a protester with his car served in the US marine corps until earlier this year.

Dillon Hopper, the self-styled “commander” of Vanguard America, is a recently retired marine staff sergeant and veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Members of his white supremacist group marched in Virginia last weekend.

Hopper, 29, has been using his former name, Dillon Irizarry, when appearing in public for Vanguard America. But he officially changed his name to Dillon Ulysses Hopper in November 2006, according to court records in his native New Mexico.

Hopper’s active duty with the marines ended in January this year, according to a Department of Defense record. He has lived in California and Ohio since returning to the US. Hopper’s full service record could not immediately be obtained. His Facebook avatar is currently a cartoon image of Donald Trump building a wall.

Hopper and Vanguard America did not respond to messages seeking comment. Hopper’s identity was first reported by Splinter.

Fields, a 20-year-old military bootcamp dropout from Maumee, Ohio, has been charged with crimes including murder after allegedly driving his Dodge Challenger into a crowd of people in Charlottesville who were demonstrating against the far-right. The crash killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injured about 20 others.

Fields had been photographed standing among members of Vanguard America earlier in the day. He was pictured holding a shield bearing the group’s logo and was wearing the same distinctive outfit – white polo shirt and khakis – as many Vanguard members. The group has said, however, that Fields is not a member.

Vanguard America is only about a year old. It is one of a handful of new white supremacist organizations that are attempting to radicalize young white men across the country. Its manifesto is racist and its website URL references the Nazi slogan “blood and soil”. The group bars people who are not of white European heritage.

Hopper was promoted to staff sergeant by the marines in October last year, according to a local news report, and had been due to “train, teach and mentor” potential marine officers. The article said Hopper had joined the military shortly after graduating from high school in Roswell, New Mexico, in 2005.

In a speech to fellow Nazis in Pikeville, Kentucky, earlier this year, Hopper said that since taking over the leadership of American Vanguard he had tried to strengthen the group with lessons learned from his time in the military.

“I’ve kind of tooken [sic] that experience and scrubbed the Vanguard pretty good with it,” Hopper said, “and I’m getting a pretty good product.”

Dillon Hopper speaking in Pikeville, Kentucky.

Dillon Hopper speaking in Pikeville, Kentucky. The forgotten mistreated white men.  They were never poor enough for food stamps and they have a grudge now? Or They were on their iPhone when the teacher was giving history lessons? They never learn about the statues. Who put them there? Why? and why slavery is always been a shame chapter for this country. 
adamfoxie*blog       Photograph:YouTube

In an interview with the Guardian in May, a Vanguard America organizer from Texas, who would identify himself only as a “vice commander” named Thomas, said that a “large percentage” of Vanguard’s members are college-aged, and that most are in their early twenties. Members must be aged between 18 and 45.
Like Identity Evropa, a similar white nationalist group, Vanguard America seeks to recruit clean-cut, more professional white men, rebranding racist organizing in a preppier image. Visible neck and hand tattoos, for instance, are discouraged, and one organizer said that obese men would be disqualified from joining.
“We also uphold standards of dress and grooming and physical fitness because our ideology is one of strength and purity and self-improvement,” he said.
Thomas would not provide any details about the group’s process for vetting members, other than to say that it included an interview. A questionnaire once used by the group for screening, which was obtained by the Guardian, asked for details of applicants’ professions, beliefs and criminal histories. It asked how often they consumed tobacco or alcohol and “how long you’ve been ‘red pilled’,” a phrase used on the far-right to mean aware of supposed difficult truths. 
Vanguard America has attracted attention by putting up racist posters on college campuses in areas such as Maryland, Washington DC and Texas.
In May, a 23-year-old black college student was stabbed to death by a white man on the University of Maryland’s campus. Richard Collins III, was about to graduate, and had just been commissioned as a second lieutenant in the US army.
The alleged killer had been part of a Facebook group named “Alt-Reich”, authorities said. The Vanguard America spokesman objected to links between made between Collins’s stabbing and the white nationalist posters that had appeared on campus.
“There are murders of all ideologies,” he said, going on to say: “We don’t promote this kind of action.” 


August 14, 2017

Trump Sees 'Many Sides' in Charlotte but Many GOP's Saw Terrorism and White Supremacy

As events in Charlottesville, Va., unfolded Saturday, political leaders used Twitter to respond to the violent confrontations that began Friday night — at a "Unite the Right" rally that pitted members of the alt-right, Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi groups against anti-racism counter-protesters — and turned deadly the next afternoon when a car plowed into a group of pedestrians.
Republican officials, from the president to members of the House and Senate, went online to speak out against bigotry and violence — with President Trump coming under criticism from some members of his own party for not speaking out forcefully enough.
A White House spokesman has defended the president's statement.
"The President said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred and of course that includes white Supremacists, KKK, neo-nazi and all extremist groups. He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together." 
While the president remained silent on the white nationalist march across the University of Virginia campus Friday night, he reacted to the street brawls, fist fights and homemade pepper spray attacks of the next day in a broadly-worded tweet Saturday afternoon.
"There is no place for this kind of violence in America," Trump said, "Let's come together as one!"
Others weighing in included Vice President Mike Pence, who is heading Sunday on a six-day trip through Central and South America. "U.S is greatest when we join together & oppose those seeking to divide us. #Charlottesville," Pence tweeted.

The first official statement on Charlottesville came out of the East Wing of the White House, however. First lady Melania Trump tweeted nearly an hour before the president or vice president on Saturday. "...[L]et's communicate w/o hate in our hearts. No good comes from violence. #Charlottesville," she tweeted.
But the president's initial response quickly appeared outdated when a Dodge Charger plowed into pedestrians, killing one woman, and injuring at least nine others.
Just over an hour later, during televised remarks about a bill signing that had already been on his daily schedule, Trump addressed the intensifying situation in Charlottesville, which had been steadily covered on cable news outlets throughout the day.
But he did not specifically address the vehicular attack. And he did not condemn the white nationalist and white supremacist groups that had arrived to protest the city's decision to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee, a hero of the Confederacy — and the president did not call out any of those groups by name. Instead, the president alluded to shared blame between protesters and counter-protesters for failing to maintain peace in Charlottesville.
"We condemn in the strongest most possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. On many sides," Trump said.
As the afternoon progressed, some members of his own party began to call out the president for his generic remarks and to criticize him for not calling the vehicular attack a terrorist attack — like those that have occurred in recent years in European cities.
"Mr. President - we must call evil by its name," Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., tweeted, "These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism." Gardner's sentiments were echoed in tweets by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah; Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.; and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
Late Saturday, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, specifically called on Trump's Justice Department "to immediately investigate and prosecute this grotesque act of domestic terrorism."
Later on Saturday night, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a statement on the opening of a federal investigation into today's incident in Charlottesville, Va. The statement said in part:
"The Richmond FBI Field Office, the Civil Rights Division, and the US Attorney's Office for the Western District of Virginia have opened a civil rights investigation into the circumstances of the deadly vehicular incident that occurred earlier Saturday morning. The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence, and as this is an ongoing investigation we are not able to comment further at this time." 
Prominent Democrats also used Twitter to comment on the racially charged events and their deadly outcomes.
Invoking the torch-lit march of mostly young, white men through Charlottesville Friday night, House Democrats tweeted a photo of the Statue of Liberty with the message "The torch of liberty out-shines darkness and hate."
Onetime Trump rival Hillary Clinton unleashed a tweet storm Saturday almost immediately after Trump's televised remarks ended. "Now is the time for leaders to be strong in their words & deliberate in their actions," Clinton saidadding "We will not step backward. If this is not who we are as Americans, let's prove it."
Riffing on Trump's controversial "many sides" comment, former Vice President Joe Biden had a simple message: "There is only one side. #charlottesville"
Finally, former President Barack Obama weighed in Saturday evening, as the events of the day appeared to have calmed down both in Charlottesville and online. "'No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion,'" Obama tweetedadding "'People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love ...'"
Obama attributed the quote, which he'd posted for his more than 90 million followers, to Nelson Mandela. It is reportedly from the South African leader's 1994 autobiography Long Walk to Freedom.


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