Woman recalls total terror of Charlottesville car attack

RICHMOND, Va. — One witness described a scene in which a car rammed into counterprotesters during a 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. She said that her fiance was bleeding on the sidewalk and that she later found out that a friend had died.

Marissa Blair was called to the stand during the third week civil trial in a lawsuit seeking to hold white national organizers of the Unite the Right rally responsible for the violence that ensued. Blair is among nine people who sustained injuries or emotional scarrings and are now suing the organizers. They claim they conspired with Blair to cause violence in Charlottesville over two days.

“I was confused. I was scared. I was worried about all the people that were there. It was a total terror scene. It was blood everywhere. Blair said she was scared and broke down many times during her testimony.

James Alex Fields Jr. from Maumee in Ohio is the driver of this car and is currently serving a life sentence for murdering and other hate crimes. In the car attack, one woman was killed and many others were injured.

Plaintiffs claim that two dozen white supremacists, neo Nazis and other organizations conspired to incite violent behavior.

Hundreds of white nationalists descended on Charlottesville on Aug. 11 and Aug. 12, 2017, ostensibly to protest city plans to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Clashes between the white nationalists and anti-racism protesters broke out both days, prompting authorities to declare the gathering on Aug. 12 an “unlawful assembly” and to order crowds to disperse. Fields drove into a peaceful group protesters in his car after hearing this announcement.

The lawsuit is being funded by Integrity First for America, a nonprofit organization formed in response to the violence in Charlottesville. Some of the country’s most well-known white nationalists are named as defendants, including: Richard Spencer, who coined the term “alt-right” to described a loosely connected band of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and others; Jason Kessler, the rally’s main organizer; and Christopher Cantwell, a white supremacists who became known as the “crying Nazi” for posting a tearful video when a warrant was issued for his arrest on assault charges for using pepper spray on counterdemonstrators.

Four victims of the car attack were among the plaintiffs, as well as others who were attacked during the torch rally at Virginia University or the demonstrations that followed.

The jury was shown a number of chat rooms, social media posts, and other communications by the plaintiffs’ lawyers. They also discussed plans for demonstrations and what weapons they would bring.

They also depend on a 150-year old law that was passed after the Civil War to protect civil rights and shield slaves from violence. Commonly known as the Ku Klux Klan Act, the law contains a rarely used provision that allows private citizens to sue other citizens for civil rights violations.

They claim that the defendants’ language in chat room conversations was hyperbolic, and therefore protected under the First Amendment. They also said that they only spoke of weapons and combat to defend themselves from protesters.

Blair claimed that she sustained minor injuries when her fiancé pushed her to the side as the car raced towards the crowd. She suffered from panic attacks, flashbacks, and depression as a result of witnessing the attack. Also, she was grieving for Heather Heyer (32-year-old).

Blair stated, “My emotional scars were much worse than my physical ones.”

Blair and Marcus Martin, Blair’s fiance, received serious injuries when Fields was hit by his car. They married nine months after the attack. Blair explained that the events had profound psychological and physical impacts on their relationship. They are now separated.

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