The violence that erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia, when counter-protesters clashed with hate groups demonstrating in opposition to the city’s removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee is one of the biggest news stories of the year. As the demonstration dispersed, an Ohio man, James Alex Fields Jr., drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one woman, Heather Heyer, and injuring many others. In a separate incident, two Virginia State Police officers monitoring the situation, H. Jay Cullen and Berke Bates, were killed in a helicopter crash. The Charlottesville violence and the responses to it are sobering reminders of America’s continuing struggle with racial and ethnic hostility. Keep reading for more news.
Charlottesville Policing. After the violence in Charlottesville, questions have been raised about whether the city’s police department did enough to prevent the clash of protesters. These articles from the L.A. Times and the Associated Press are examples of the criticism.
Durham Statue. As WRAL reports, protesters in Durham destroyed a statue of a Confederate soldier on Monday during a demonstration in response to the Charlottesville incident. At a gathering at the old Durham County Courthouse, protesters attached a rope to the statue and pulled it from its pedestal, causing it to crumple upon hitting the ground. At the time of writing, eight people had been arrested and charged with various felonies and misdemeanors for their participation in the incident. More arrests are expected according to the WRAL report.
Fields Charged. James Alex Fields Jr. has been charged in Virginia state court with second-degree murder and various other offenses based on driving his car into the counter-protesters in Charlottesville. NPR says that in addition to the state charges, the FBI and the Justice Department are investigating whether to charge Fields with federal crimes. In an interview with NBC News, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that federal authorities are in the process of determining whether Fields should be charged with a hate crime.
Vice News. Elle Reeve, a journalist who works as a correspondent for VICE News Tonight on HBO, has been lauded this week for her in-depth reporting on the hate groups that organized the Charlottesville demonstration. She was a guest on the Charlie Rose show this week, and her piece for VICE, which provides an unfiltered look at the demonstration and its participants, is available here.
Antifa. In the wake of the Charlottesville incident, the nation is becoming more aware of a variety of groups who are being referred to by the umbrella term “antifa,” which is short for anti-fascists. While the term “alt-right” has been widely used in recent months to refer to white nationalists and other related political groups, there has been less national attention paid to antifa groups. A story from the Associated Press provides background on the antifa groups, saying that “people who affiliate with the term take a militant approach against fascism and white nationalism that doesn’t necessarily shy away from violence.” The AP report says that members of antifa groups were among the counter-protesters in Charlottesville.
A.G. in City of the Arts. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions visited Winston-Salem yesterday to address the annual Gangs Across the Carolinas training symposium for law enforcement and criminal justice professionals. The Winston-Salem Journal has a report on Sessions’ visit which says that the Attorney General spoke about the MS-13 gang, the increase in drug overdoses nationally, and immigration.
Charlotte School of Law. News broke this week that North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein formally notified the U.S. Department of Education that Charlotte School of Law no longer is licensed to operate in North Carolina, and that the school has been ordered to close. The Charlotte Observer published an article this week that provides details about the situation and recounts the history of the for-profit law school’s troubles.