In August 2017, James Alex Fields Jr. was accused of driving into a crowd of people protesting the white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer. According to BuzzFeed News, Fields Jr. has now been charged with federal hate crimes.
The 21-year-old white supremacist, who allegedly injured more than 30 people with his vehicle, has been indicted on 30 counts, including 28 counts of hate crime acts causing bodily injury, an attempt to kill, and motivated violent interference with a federally protected activity.
The indictment states that Fields Jr. "expressed and promoted his belief that white people are superior to other races and peoples; expressed support of the social and racial policies of Adolf Hitler and Nazi-era Germany, including the Holocaust; and espoused violence against African Americans, Jewish people and members of other racial; ethnic and religious groups he perceived to be non-white."
According to prosecutors, when the family of Fields Jr. urged him to be careful ahead of the rally, he responded, "We're not the ones who need to be careful," along with a photo of Adolf Hitler. They also allege he "engaged in chants promoting or expressing white supremacist and other racist and anti-Semitic views” during the rally.
The indictment states that Fields Jr. purposefully carried out the attack after observing that "a racially and ethnically diverse crowd of individuals had gathered at the bottom of the hill." He reversed his car to the top of the hill and "rapidly accelerated, through a stop sign and across a raised pedestrian mall, and drove directly into the crowd." He then fled the scene.
The terrifying scene quickly went viral after video footage of the incident circulated on Twitter.
"As this case indicates, our office will aggressively prosecute hate crimes and other civil-rights offenses committed because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin of any individual or group,” US Attorney Thomas T. Cullen said in a statement.
According to USA Today, Fields was charged on the state level with first-degree murder in January and will be tried in November.