On Saturday (August 12), White supremacists stormed Charlottesville, Virginia, for a rally whose aftermath left several counter-protestors injured and three dead, including two Virginia State Police Department officers killed in a helicopter crash.
As Colorlines reported over the weekend:
Organized by a self-described “White advocate” and University of Virginia alum Jason Kessler, the rally was slated to be in protest of the pending removal and sale of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee in a park that was renamed Emancipation Park in June. Just last month, Charlottesville was the site of a Ku Klux Klan rally that ended with the deployment of police tear gas. In attendance at today’s action were a range of White activists who promote or participate in racist terrorism including Neo Nazis, White supremacist biker gangs, the Ku Klux Klan, the National Socialist Movement, the Traditionalist Worker Party, the neo-Confederate League of the South, Identity Evropa and various figures from the so-called alt-right. …
After today’s “Unite the Right” action dispersed, a car in downtown Charlottesville rammed into a group of people, killing at least one and injuring 19. In a speech Trump gave after casualties were reported, the president said, ”We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.” Critics said Trump was making a false equivalency between the mass of White nationalists assembled and people opposing them.
There have been several developments in the hours since the rally. Here’s a quick rundown:
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Department of Justice has opened a civil rights investigation into the violent rally. “I have talked with FBI Director Chris Wray, FBI agents on the scene, and law enforcement officials for the state of Virginia. The FBI has been supporting state and local authorities throughout the day. U.S. Attorney Rick Mountcastle has commenced a federal investigation and will have the full support of the Department of Justice. Justice will prevail,” Sessions said in a statement issued to press on Saturday.
Sessions also appeared on Good Morning America (GMA) today (August 14), where he defended President Donald Trump’s statement on the events, in which he failed to call out the White supremacists for their actions. “His initial statement on this roundly and unequivocally condemned hatred and violence and bigotry. He called on our people to work together in community and in love and affection and not in hatred and violence,” Sessions says in the video below. “I’m sure he’ll talk again, maybe today, on this very subject. He cares about it deeply.”
James Alex Fields Jr., 20, has been charged with one count of second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and one count of leaving the scene of an accident for driving his car into a crowd of counter-protestors on Saturday. The Ohio man killed Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old White woman, when he hit her with his silver Dodge Challenger, per NPR.
In his GMA interview this morning, Sessions said of the killing: “It does meet the definition of domestic terrorism in our statute. We are pursuing it in the [Department of Justice] in every way that we can make a case.”
GoDaddy tweeted yesterday (August 13) that it has given White supremacist site The Daily Stormer 24 hours to move its domain after it posted the story below about Heyer.
— Amy Siskind (@Amy_Siskind) August 14, 2017
We informed The Daily Stormer that they have 24 hours to move the domain to another provider, as they have violated our terms of service.
— GoDaddy (@GoDaddy) August 14, 2017
As AZCentral.com notes, the web services company has previously ignored criticism for providing the site—which the Southern Poverty Law Center says is “dedicated to spreading anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism, and white nationalism”—with a domain name.
Merck CEO Ken Frazier, who is Black, resigned from Trump’s American Manufacturing Council following the rally. He tweeted the statement below:
— Merck (@Merck) August 14, 2017
Trump responded via his favorite method of communication:
Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President’s Manufacturing Council,he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 14, 2017
Jon Favreau, a speechwriter for former President Barack Obama, took a different approach to his response, challenging others to quit the council:
Ken Frazier resigned because the President of the United States refused to condemn white supremacists. What are the rest of you waiting for? https://t.co/yhBvcmf0Qc
— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) August 14, 2017