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  • James Alex Fields Jr., (L) is seen attending the

    James Alex Fields Jr., (L) is seen attending the "Unite the Right" rally in Emancipation Park before being arrested by police. | Photo: Reuters

Published 11 December 2018

The car-ramming incident capped a day of tension and physical clashes between hundreds of white supremacists and neo-Nazis and groups of opposing demonstrators.

James A. Fields Jr., an avowed neo-Nazi who rammed his car into a group of counterprotesters at a white-supremacist rally, was sentenced to life in prison by a jury Tuesday for first-degree murder and nine other crimes for killing Heather Heyer, 32, and injuring 19 other people after the "Unite the Right" gathering on Aug. 12, 2017.

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Defense attorneys never disputed that Fields was behind the wheel of a Dodge Charger that sent bodies flying when it smashed into a group of marching counter-protesters. They instead suggested during the two-week trial that Fields felt intimidated by a hostile crowd and acted to protect himself.

The car-ramming incident capped a day of tension and physical clashes between hundreds of white supremacists and neo-Nazis and groups of opposing demonstrators. The white supremacists had assembled in Charlottesville to protest the removal of statues honoring two Confederate generals of the U.S. Civil War.

The night before, "Unite the Right" protesters had staged a torch-lit march through the nearby University of Virginia campus, chanting racist and anti-Semitic slogans.

Republican U.S. President Donald Trump was strongly condemned by Democrats and many of his fellow Republicans for saying afterward that there were "fine people on both sides."

Fields, a resident of Maumee, Ohio, was photographed hours before the car attack carrying a shield with the emblem of a far-right hate group. He has identified himself as a neo-Nazi.

He also faces separate federal hate-crime charges, which carry a potential death sentence. He has pleaded not guilty in that case.

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