WEB SPECIAL: The Fallout from Aug. 12

Published: Aug. 10, 2018 at 9:39 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

The violent white nationalist rallies that shook Charlottesville and the University of Virginia in the summer of 2017 are continuing to impact the community. They prompted several memorials to victims, numerous changes to Charlottesville leadership, and a string of criminal cases and civil lawsuits. This is a comprehensive look at all of those impacts. It is divided into four categories:

You can click on each of these categories to be taken directly to that section.

Community Response

Heather Heyer became a symbol of unity after her death at the Unite the Right rally on Aug. 12, 2017. Heyer died after being struck by a car on Fourth Street NE in downtown Charlottesville. The intersection of Fourth and Water streets became home to a makeshift memorial full of flowers, candles, and messages of love. A vigil was held the night after her death and a

was held the following week at the Paramount Theater along the Downtown Mall. At that memorial, Heather's mother, Susan Bro, shared her grief with the crowd. In December, the City of Charlottesville

"Honorary Heather Heyer Way."

In honor of the three lives lost during the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia Blood Services hosted a

on Emmet Street about two weeks after the tragic event. All of the donations collected were used in the Charlottesville area to help hospital patients in need of blood.

The University of Virginia formed a Working Group to study the response to the Aug. 11 torch rally at the UVA Rotunda. The

was given to university leaders in September. President Teresa Sullivan

to students and staff saying the university community must heal together.

Also in September, news came out about a

. Sullivan issued a statement saying money equal to the modern amount of that pledge would be donated to help people injured during the rally.

Sullivan also responded when students

over a statue of Thomas Jefferson in front of the Rotunda and issued a list of demands for UVA to address white supremacy.

The Dave Matthews Band organized a unity concert in September to bring the community together.

featured several big names in music including Coldplay, Justin Timberlake, Ariana Grande and Pharrell Williams. Dave Matthews kicked off the show by sharing his love for Charlottesville. A Concert for Charlottesville, the Heal Charlottesville Fund and Unity Cville collectively raised $1 million in relief. Of that total, $325,000 was

in November.

Religious leaders in the Charlottesville area worked to unify the community through prayer.

held in December brought together people of different religious backgrounds with the goal of creating change.

Earlier this year, two Virginia State Police troopers who were killed when their helicopter crashed outside of Charlottesville on Aug. 12 were memorialized. The hangar at the Chesterfield County airport is now known as

and the

at the division headquarters in Chesterfield County has been officially named for Trooper-Pilot Berke Bates. Cullen and Bates were flying in support of the police response to the Unite the Right rally on Aug. 12. Both were killed when their helicopter crashed near Old Farm Road in Albemarle County.

In May, a new bike trail in the Pocahontas State Park was named

to also honor Cullen, who was an avid cyclist. Cullen's son Ryan was the first person to ride the trail in memory of his father.

Charlottesville business owners also felt the impacts of the Unite the Right weekend. Several businesses decided to close their doors on Aug. 12 to help avoid conflict. Along with losing business that day, the effects lingered for months as people seemed to mostly avoid going downtown to spend money. Charlottesville's

showed an 11.3-percent decrease in revenue compared to the year before. In the months following the rally, more people began returning to the downtown area. The latest

released in May shows a 5.75-percent increase in sales compared to last year.

to return to the top of this page.

Government Response

Since Aug. 12, there have been numerous changes in the

, including the police department and city officers. Another change that has been proposed would alter the

the city has to one with a strong mayor.

Following Aug. 12, the

announced his retirement, though it was reportedly not connected with the police response to the rally. Charlottesville City Attorney Craig Brown also announced he was leaving.

The Charlottesville City Council got

following November's general election. Mike Signer was replaced by Nikuyah Walker as mayor. Back in late August, members of the community had called for Signer, Chief Al Thomas and others to


The Charlottesville City Council decided in May 2018 to not

for City Manager Maurice Jones, saying the city needed a "fresh perspective." In July, Jones

he was taking a new job in North Carolina. The city has since approved Mike Murphy to serve as


RaShall Brackney became

in June 2018. She is the permanent replacement for Chief Al Thomas who retired in December following Aug. 12 and the backlash from it. Following Chief Al Thomas' retirement announcement, the

, with some expressing surprise about it and others wondering at the reasoning. Another change in the leadership at the Charlottesville Police Department came in May 2018, when long-time second in command Gary Pleasants


In July, the city resolved an ongoing issue concerning the

where the Confederate statues at the center of this event are located. Lee Park, home to the statue of Robert E. Lee, was initially renamed Emancipation Park but has now been renamed Market Street Park. Jackson Park, where there is a statue of Stonewall Jackson, was initially renamed Justice Park and has now been renamed Court Square Park.

In the wake of the Unite the Right rally, investigations were launched into the preparations for and response to it. In December, former U.S. Attorney Tim Heaphy presented the results of his

of the city's response to Aug. 12 during a Charlottesville City Council meeting that was repeatedly interrupted by attendees. The review also found numerous

during the event and a

between the police and the community.

At the end of August 2017, Charlottesville released documents detailing how much

on seeking advice and the response to the events of Aug. 12. In January, the city also

for the response.

In August, then Governor Terry McAuliffe created the

on Public Safety Preparedness and Response to Civil Unrest. The

from that task force, which was released in December, cited issues involving firearms and other problems. A

from the task force also dealt with rumors of police being told to stand down during the violence after the rally was declared an unlawful assembly. In April, the Virginia State Police was ordered to release its

for the Aug. 12 response by a judge in Charlottesville.

At UVA, a review of

on Grounds listed various improvements that could be made to prevent another march like the one that occurred on Aug. 11. The report on this review was released in December.

Following the reports that were issued in the wake of Aug. 12, the Charlottesville City Council created the

to try and improve the relationship between the police department and the community and address the failures of the rally.

In December, Governor Terry McAuliffe proposed changes to

following the events of Aug. 12 in Charlottesville. Immediately following the rally in August, he had issued an order

for other events related to Confederate statues in Richmond.

The city of Charlottesville also tried to change the rules regarding

. The Charlottesville City Council worked to change rules to

can be brought to an event and regulating what


Political reactions to Aug. 12 reached all levels of government, including the federal government with resolutions in the


to condemn hate groups. At the state level, state delegates and senators tried to pass a variety of

to Aug. 12, but none of them survived the General Assembly session. One of Delegate David Toscano's bills directly addressed the whole reason for the rally on Aug. 12, a city trying to

like the statues of Lee and Jackson.

does not allow for localities to remove such monuments. The

in the General Assembly was even impacted by the events in Charlottesville and other issues. And the University of Virginia has

in reaction, especially concerning freedom of speech on Grounds.

Even though Jason Kessler has abandoned the legal

to hold an anniversary rally in Charlottesville, he has permission to hold one in

. As of Aug. 9, two permits had been approved for counter-demonstrations in D.C. on Aug. 12.

Members of the Charlottesville City Council and the community

for the Aug. 12 anniversary. This year, the response will be different, including having the

active the entire time and more

in the downtown area. Representatives from local law enforcement and other emergency response agencies have held

on community safety ahead of the Aug. 12 anniversary. The

has also announced restricted access to certain areas following last year's events. On Aug. 8, both the city of Charlottesville and Virginia declared

ahead of the activities scheduled for the Unite the Right anniversary. Extra Virginia State Police troopers are being mobilized and hundreds of Virginia National Guard soldiers have been put on standby.

to return to the top of this page.

Criminal Cases

James Fields, from Ohio, faces

, including first-degree murder, after prosecutors say he intentionally plowed

into a group of counter-protesters following the Unite the Right rally, injuring dozens of people and killing Heather Heyer. Fields also faces federal

. His murder trial is scheduled for November.

White nationalist

has been convicted of using pepper spray at a white nationalist torch rally in front of the University of Virginia's Rotunda on Aug. 11. Cantwell did not receive any additional jail time but was ordered to stay out of Virginia for five years.

Several people were charged in an attack that injured Deandre Harris in the Market Street Parking Garage after the rally.

was convicted of malicious wounding in the attack, and the jury recommended a 10-year prison term.

was also convicted of malicious wounding, and the jury recommended a six-year prison sentence. Shortly after Goodwin and Ramos were convicted,

entered an Alford plea to the same attack. A fourth suspect,

, has a court hearing scheduled for October. Davis has claimed self-defense. Deandre Harris was also charged after several of the attackers claimed that Harris had incited the violence. Harris was found

of assault.

was convicted in June of using a homemade blowtorch against white nationalists at the rally.

, a man with connections to the Ku Klux Klan, was convicted of firing a gun near the rally. He said he fired the shot to protect friends from Long's blowtorch.

, from Louisa County, was convicted of attacking a reporter who was trying to get footage of the car attack on Fourth Street. He was ordered

of community service.

, from Indiana, was convicted of hitting a woman at the rally. He was sentenced to eight months in jail.

Several people were convicted of attacking Jason Kessler as he attempted to hold a press conference on the Downtown Mall the day after the rally.

is charged with assault for allegedly spitting on Kessler. His case has not yet gone to trial. Jeffrey Winder, Edgar Collins, and Phoebe Stevens

with assault and battery. Collins, Winder, and Stevens were convicted in February. Stevens and Winder are appealing their convictions.

Two months after the rally, then-city council member Bob Fenwick

with Charlottesville Circuit Court calling for a special grand jury to be convened in order to investigate if criminal charges could be brought against Jason Kessler, Richard Spencer, and other organizers of the Unite the Right rally. To date, no indictments have been handed up against Kessler or Spencer.

In its first meeting after the rally, the Charlottesville City Council voted to cover the Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson statues with

to symbolize a community in mourning. In the following months, several people cut or removed the tarps.

was convicted of trespassing in the park and trying to remove the tarps. He was sentenced to five months in jail.

was also convicted of similar charges and sentenced to eight months. Both men have appealed their convictions. In February, a Charlottesville judge

saying the shrouding was meant to be temporary.

to return to the top of this page.

Civil Cases

After the Charlottesville City Council voted in February 2017 to

from the park, a group of plaintiffs, including the Monument Fund and the Virginia Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans

to block the removal of the statue, citing a state law that prevents removal of war monuments. A judge issued an injunction preventing the city from removing the Lee statue while the lawsuit plays out. The lawsuit is scheduled to be decided in Charlottesville Circuit Court in October. A judge ruled in June

could be liable for damages.

After the Unite the Right rally, several groups brought lawsuits against rally organizer Jason Kessler and other people involved.

brought by a mixture of residents and minority UVA students argues that Kessler and other organizers intentionally targeted groups because of their race or ethnicity. The case will likely go to trial in 2019.

Another lawsuit against Kessler and several militia groups was brought

and several downtown businesses. This lawsuit argued that militia groups terrorized the city with military-style tactics. This lawsuit

after each militia group agreed to not return to Charlottesville, and Kessler agreed to not facilitate any paramilitary activity at future rallies.

Three days after the rally, two of the people injured in the car attack on Fourth Street

against James Fields, Jason Kessler, Richard Spencer, and other groups involved in the Unite the Right rally. Tadrint and Micah Washington are asking for $3 million in damages.

In September 2017, attorney Malik Shabazz and members of the New Black Panthers Party promised to

against the city of Charlottesville on behalf of several black residents, including Corey Long who was convicted of using a homemade blowtorch against a white nationalist at the rally.

Also in September 2017, a Charlottesville resident named Robert Turner sued

, saying officers did not adequately protect him at the rally. In May 2018, a federal judge


In March 2018, Brennan Gilmore from Albemarle County sued several bloggers and right-wing websites

, after he said they targeted him for posting video of the car attack on Fourth Street.

When Charlottesville denied Jason Kessler's permit request to hold a Unite the Right anniversary rally in Market Street Park, Kessler sued the city, asking a federal judge to force the city to grant the permit. However, in June 2018, Kessler

, effectively giving up the fight to obtain a permit in Charlottesville.

to return to the top of this page.