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2 sisters in Charlottesville sue far-right leaders over car attack

Associated Press Photo/Steve Helber

Police tape and flowers mark the site where a car plowed into a crowd of people protesting a white nationalist rally on Saturday in Charlottesville, Va.

By Alan Feuer New York Times  

Two women injured during the right-wing extremist protest last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking damages from the rally’s organizer and more than two dozen leaders, groups and websites affiliated with the self-proclaimed alt-right.

The suit was filed with the Circuit Court in Charlottesville by Tadrint Washington and her sister Micah Washington, who said they were physically and emotionally injured when a man the police have identified as James Alex Fields Jr., 20, of Ohio, plowed his Dodge Challenger into a throng of people who were protesting the “Unite the Right” rally Saturday. Heather D. Heyer, 32, was killed, and several others were injured.

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The 28 defendants named in the suit included Fields and what amounts to virtually the far right’s entire top leadership, including Jason Kessler, the rally’s organizer; David Duke, a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan; Richard B. Spencer, a prominent white nationalist; Matthew Heimbach, a founder of the Nationalist Front; and Austin Gillespie, who is also known as Augustus Sol Invictus and who earlier that day had announced that he was seeking Florida’s Republican nomination for the Senate.

The 28-page complaint seeks $3 million in damages and accuses each of the defendants and their various organizations of engaging in a civil conspiracy to sponsor “violent acts and terrorism.” It also said that the far-right leaders and their groups had “intended to cause physical harm and incite fear in the public.”

According to the suit, the Washingtons did not attend any part of the rally and had been driving to their home in Charlottesville in Tadrint Washington’s Toyota Camry when they were detoured by road closures into a large group of counterprotesters who had gathered on Fourth Street between Main and Water streets. The sisters found themselves caught in the crowd at 1:42 p.m. when, the suit said, Fields drove his car into the protesters, slamming the Washingtons into the dashboard and windshield of their car and leaving them with “serious injuries to their heads and extremities.”

They were taken to the University of Virginia Medical Center, where they were treated. Fields was arrested and charged with second-degree murder and malicious wounding.

None of the far-right leaders could be reached immediately for comment on the suit.

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Michael Miller, the lawyer who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Washingtons, said, “I’ve sued Islamic terrorists before, and I’m not going to let these white terrorists succeed in anything now.”