A 20-year-old man has been charged with murder after he ploughed through a crowd of protesters at an anti-far right protest in Charlottesville, Virginia yesterday. The incident, which took place during a heated few days in the liberal city, killed one woman and left 19 injured.
James Alex Fields Jr, from Maumee, Ohio, has been charged with second-degree murder and is currently being held at Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail. Fields attacked the protesters after their had been multiple violent clashes at a white supremacist rally in downtown Charlottesville on Saturday.
The disturbing footage shows Fields’ Dodge Challenger accelerating into a crowd of people who are thrown into the air, before he quickly reverses at speed. You can hear multiple screams as the tyres screech and the scene is one of panic and disbelief at the events that are unfolding.
Sadly, a 32-year-old woman, whose identity is yet to be revealed, was killed during the attack, where 19 others were also left injured. Fields was caught and arrested a few streets away from the bloody and chaotic scene by police.
Shockingly, the attack wasn’t the only fatal incident to take place in the city that night. A police helicopter crashed about seven miles from the scene, killing the two pilots inside it. Police reports said that the helicopter, which was monitoring the violent protests below, crashed in a wooded area and that there were no injuries to anyone on the ground. Lt. Jay Cullen, 48, and Trooper-Pilot Berke Bates, 40, were identified as the two casualties of the tragic crash.
Speaking about the violent clashes that have gripped the city, the Governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, said that his message to the white supremacists and neo-Nazis that have brought chaos to the streets of Charlottesville, was simple: “go home”.
Charlottesville’s Mayor, Michael Signer, said he was disgusted by the behaviour of the individuals involved with the clashes, and went on to blame Donald Trump for inflaming racial prejudices during his presidential campaign in 2016.
“I’m not going to make any bones about it. I place the blame for a lot of what you’re seeing in America today right at the doorstep of the White House and the people around the president.”
The FBI has now opened a civil rights investigation into the deadly crash.
The violence began at the University of Virginia ahead of the planned Unite the Right rally, which was organised by white supremacists at Emancipation Park. There has been multiple accounts of fighting between both sets of protesters, with paint and pepper spray being used as weapons.
Members of the local church could be seen linking arms in order to block protesters at one of the entrances of the park, while alt-right protesters chanted “white lives matter” a they marched through them.
Traci Blackmon, a black woman who inside a church in Charlottesville, described the fear that residents were experiencing. Taking to Twitter, she said: “They are coming for the church! Police all around. They won’t let us go outside. Y’all these KKK are marching with torches!”
Our thoughts and prayers are with those involved in the horrific attack, and we wish them all a speedy recovery.