On Saturday morning, James Alex Fields, Jr. was standing in a line in Charlottesville, Va., with fellow members of Vanguard America – a white nationalist group at the “Unite The Right” rally.
He was standing with others, holding a shield emblazoned with two white axes, a variation of the imagery used by the group and other fascists. He was wearing slacks, a white polo shirt and sunglasses.
A few hours later, Fields got into his Dodge Challenger and plowed into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing a 32-year-old woman and injuring 19 others.
Fields, 20, was arrested and charged with one count of second degree murder, three counts of “malicious wounding” and one count of “hit and run.
The group who were struck were described as “anti-racist protesters” by a witness who took video of the crash. The marchers were packed close together at the end of a street when the car struck. Here’s the video. It is graphic:
Video of car hitting anti-racist protestors. Let there be no confusion: this was deliberate terrorism. My prayers with victims. Stay home. pic.twitter.com/MUOZs71Pf4
— Brennan Gilmore (@brennanmgilmore) August 12, 2017
Brennan Gilmore, a 37-year-old who works for a start up, shot the footage and said he heard tires squealing before he saw a car build up speed and ram the crowd. It hit a number of people before plowing into the bumper of another car.
“It was very clearly intentional,” Gilmore told NBC News. “From the far end of the street it accelerated, slowed down right before the crowd and then slammed on the gas through the crowd sending bodies flying. And then it reversed back into the street dragging bodies and clothes.”
On their Twitter page Saturday night, Vanguard America said that Fields was not a member of their group. that the white shirts do not denote membership, and that the shields were “freely handed out to anyone in attendance.”
An official statement regarding today's incidents and the individual in question. pic.twitter.com/wBaERomHEZ
— Vanguard America (@VanguardAm) August 13, 2017
But before the attack, they promoted the activity of their group with a photo showing a line of people wearing white shirts and carrying the same shields. The logo is a variation of the”fasces,” fascist imagery of an axe between a bundle of sticks.
Today we stood against the government, police, Antifa, and the elements themselves. A special thanks goes out to all who fought with us. pic.twitter.com/uAwTyLBbpj
— Vanguard America (@VanguardAm) August 12, 2017
The protest by “Unite the Right” and the counter protest were sparked by a decision by the state to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
The woman killed was 32-year-old Heather Heier.
Fields mother, Samantha Bloom, told the Associated Press that all she knew was that her son was going to a rally for President Trump, not for “white nationalists.”
“I just knew he was going to a rally. I mean, I try to stay out of his political views. You know, we don’t, you know, I don’t really get too involved, I moved him out to his own apartment, so we — I’m watching his cat.”
Here’s a raw video of the interview with his mother. You’ll notice that the reporter corrects Bloom, who uses the term “albright,” when she clearly meant “Alt-Right.” The reporter – in correcting Bloom – labels the group as a “ultra-conservative white supremacist organization.”
“I thought it had something to do with Trump. Trump’s not a white supremacist,” she said. “I mean, he had an African-American friend.”