Organizers of Charlottesville rally to stand trial

A lawsuit was filed in October of 2017 against a list of people on the grounds of them being involved in the organizing of the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville.

White supremacists clash with counter protesters at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017 (photo credit: REUTERS/JOSHUA ROBERTS)
White supremacists clash with counter protesters at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017
(photo credit: REUTERS/JOSHUA ROBERTS)

A list of individuals will stand trial in Charlottesville, Virginia for conspiring to deprive other citizens of their civil rights and the damage caused by the rally beginning in October following their actions as organizers in the "Unite the Right" rally in 2017.

The alt-right rally was held on August 11-12, 2017, in the process of which Neo-Nazis and white supremacists marched through the streets of Charlottesville waving signs with racist and antisemitic slogans. The rally resulted in the death of Heather Heyer and injured many others.

The lawsuit was filed on October 11, 2017, in the US District Court for the Western District of Virginia and demanded declaratory judgment that the defendants deprived the plaintiffs of their equal rights, injunctive relief that will prevent the defendants from similar violations in the future and compensatory, statutory and punitive damages.

Five of the defendants failed to respond to the court and had default charges placed against them in early 2018. A request was made to dismiss the charges, but the presiding judge, Judge Norman K. Moon, denied the motion on July 9, 2018, because the plaintiffs adequately alleged that the defendants in question had conspired to harm black and Jewish people.

Neo-Nazis and white supremacists encircle counterprotesters at the base of a statue of Thomas Jefferson after marching through the University of Virginia campus with torches in Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 11, 2017 (credit: SHAY HORSE/NURPHOTO VIA GETTY IMAGES/JTA)Neo-Nazis and white supremacists encircle counterprotesters at the base of a statue of Thomas Jefferson after marching through the University of Virginia campus with torches in Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 11, 2017 (credit: SHAY HORSE/NURPHOTO VIA GETTY IMAGES/JTA)

Following the failure to dismiss the case, the defendants became uncooperative. In April of 2019, defendant Jeff Schoep had sanctions placed on him after failing to turn over evidence. Four months later, Two motions of sanctions were placed against defendants Elliot Kline, Matthew Heimbach, and Vanguard America. In December of the same year, the court found Kline in contempt, and he was briefly held in jail a month later. Defendant Robert Ray was also found in contempt of the court in September of 2020.

The trial is set to begin on October 25 and run through until November 19.