Charlottesville: man charged with murder was pictured at neo-Nazi rally

from August 13, 2017 at 08:21AM

The man accused of murdering a woman by deliberately driving into her during protests over a far right rally was photographed earlier in the day standing with the white supremacist, neo-Nazi group Vanguard America.

James Fields, 20, of Maumee, Ohio, allegedly killed Heather Heyer, aged 32, and injured 19 others when he rammed his car into a group peacefully protesting against a far right rally on Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Photographs from earlier that day appear to show Fields rallying with Vanguard America and carrying a shield bearing the group’s insignia. He also wears the white polo shirt and khaki pants which are the group’s uniform.

Vanguard America were a highly visible presence at the Unite the Right rally on Saturday, where they marched in military-style formation, and the torchlight rally the previous night on the University of Virginia campus. On the group’s Twitter account, and on social media accounts belonging to regional chapters, there was extensive promotion of the Unite the Right rally in the weeks leading up to the event.

The group’s motto, “blood and soil” was a popular chant at both events. It is derived from the Nazi slogan “blut und boden”, which links conceptions of racial purity with a particular national territory.

One dead after car rams into anti-fascist protesters in Charlottesville

Col Martin Kumer, the superintendent of Albemarle-Charlottesville regional jail, told the Guardian that Fields had been charged with second degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and failing to stop at an accident that resulted in a death.

Witnesses said those hit by the car were peacefully protesting against the white supremacist rally and footage showed the vehicle crashing into another car, throwing people over the top of it. The incident with the car left 19 people injured, five critically.

Fields was one of four people who have been arrested over the violence on Saturday which also included fighting and skirmishing between far right protesters and counter-protesters.

Virginia police have not yet provided a motive for the attack with the vehicle but US attorneys and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have opened a civil rights investigation into the crash, an FBI field office said.

American Fascism

Vanguard America’s manifesto, American Fascism, details their desires for a white ethnostate, the restoration of strictly patriarchal families, and limiting the influence of “international Jews”.

Of Vanguard America, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) says the group “is particularly focused on recruiting young men and has engaged in unprecedented outreach efforts to attract students on American college campuses”. Its leader, military veteran Dillon Irizarry, has said “the future is the youth”.

During the 2016-2017 school year, chapters were active in posting flyers on college campuses in 10 states, from Arkansas to Oregon. On the group’s website, printable flyers bear slogans including “Beware the International Jew”, “Imagine a Muslim-Free America”, and “Fascism: The Next Step for America”.

According to the ADL, the group claims 200 members in 20 states, and has paramilitary tendencies. Members have open-carried firearms at events in open carry states.

Leader Izirarry claims the group started in California. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the group split from “alt right” group American Vanguard. This group in turn arose from the neo-Nazi “Iron March” web forum. Other users of that forum have been involved in alleged violence: in May, Devon Arthurs, who had been active on the forum, was arrested for the murder of two roommates, who were also members of the forum.

On Twitter on Saturday night, Vanguard America denied that Fields was a member, despite his presence with the group, and his uniform dress, saying that “shields were freely handed out to anyone in attendance”.

In a previous tweet commenting on the rally, they wrote: “Our members carry a purpose within them that drives them to risk their life and wellbeing for the cause. Bystanders won’t understand.”

Federal authorities are also looking into a helicopter crash on Saturday that killed two Virginia state police officers aiding efforts to quell the clashes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Read more at: The Guardian

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