White ‘Unite the Right’ Nationalist Groups Forced to Pay $2 Million in Damages to Victims of Charlottesville Rally

Those who suffered emotional and personal injuries at a white nationalist rally 5 years ago have been awarded extra compensation in federal court this week.

“Unite the Right”

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Back in 2017, hundreds of people descended on Charlottesville, Virginia, as part of the “Unite the Right” rally. The 2-day protest event would result in public damage, violence, and the death of one person.

White Nationalist Groups Fined

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Today, the Charlottesville protests are synonymous with the white nationalist movement in America. This week saw the leaders of several white nationalist groups involved in “Unite the Right” fined $2 million in a federal appeals court.

$2 Million in Additional Compensation

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The $2 million will be split among 8 plaintiffs who experienced physical and/or emotional damages during the protests in Charlottesville.

Initial Ruling

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The court ruling on Monday is the latest development following the infamous protests. In 2021, white nationalist leaders were charged $26 million in damages, with $24 million comprising punitive damages. 

Reduced Damages

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Those damages were later reduced to just $350,000 to be split among the 8 plaintiffs, with each receiving $43,750, due to state laws.

Efforts to Restore Compensation

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The $2 million fine on Monday was made as part of an effort to restore the reward for victims of the rally, ordered by a three-judge panel for the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

State Law Offers More Possibilities

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The court found that state laws indicated that the $350,000 cap on punitive damages was actually per person, so an additional $2 million was added to bring each plaintiff’s compensation to $350,000.

Judges Vote Unanimously

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The judges voted 3-0 to “remand with instructions that the district court apply the cap instead on a per-plaintiff basis.”

Chief Judge Makes a Statement

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“Over two years ago, the jury used its $24 million punitive damages award to send an unmistakable message to the defendants and to the public about the outrageous misconduct that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia,” said Albert Diaz, the chief judge presiding over the lawsuit. 

“Long Past Time”

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“While the law compels us to reduce the award, it’s long past time for that message to be delivered,” he added.

Attorneys Praise the Ruling

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The attorneys representing the plaintiffs – Roberta Kaplan, David E. Mills, and Gabrielle E. Tenzer – issued a statement praising the court’s decision to stand against white nationalist groups.

Sending a Clear Message

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“Today’s decision restores over $2 million in punitive damages from the jury’s verdict, which sent a clear message against racist and antisemitic hate and violence,” they said in a statement.

Two Dozen Organizations

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The ruling affected two dozen white nationalist organizations involved in the Charlottesville rally, which was regarded as unlawful by the second day of protests.

Initial Purpose of the Rally

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The initial impetus of the “Unite the Right” rally was to protest against the removal of a city statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. But it quickly spiraled out of control.

Marching Through Charlottesville

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During the protests, participants marched through the city and through the University of Virginia campus nearby, chanting phrases that were heavily associated with white supremacist beliefs and even Nazi ideology.

Concerning Slogans

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These phrases included “Jews will not replace us,” “You will not replace us” and “Blood and soil,” all of which were used against the defendants in the original 2021 case. 

A Violent Crime

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On that second day, a white supremacist and suspected Nazi sympathizer named James Alex Fields Jr drove his car through a crowd of people who had assembled to counter-protest against the white nationalist groups. 

One Person Killed

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Fields, an Ohio resident, killed one woman and injured 19 others. He was later imprisoned and is currently serving a life sentence.

A Rebuke Against White Nationalist Sentiment

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The 2021 ruling was seen as a harsh rebuke against growing white nationalist sentiment in the US. While the newly awarded $2 million is much less than the original $26 million fine, affected groups will likely still see it as a much-needed triumph against groups like The Nationalist Front, Daily Stormer, and The Ku Klux Klan.

No Response From Defendants

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Lawyers for the defendants did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

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The post White ‘Unite the Right’ Nationalist Groups Forced to Pay $2 Million in Damages to Victims of Charlottesville Rally first appeared on Pulse of Pride.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Kim Kelley-Wagner.