CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WRIC) — The Charlottesville Unite the Right Trial is set to start on Monday, four years after that infamous protest that killed Heather Heyer.
Jury selection is set to begin on Oct. 25, in the federal trial against the organizers of the 2017 rally. The trial is being heard in Charlottesville and is expected to take four weeks.
It is hard to forget the images of white supremacists marching with tiki torches, rallying through town and a car plowing through a crowd, killing counter-protester Heather Heyer and injuring others.
“This case was brought by nine Charlottesville community members who were injured in the violence 4 years ago,” said Amy Spitalnick, Executive Director of Integrity First for America.
The non-partisan, non-profit organization is supporting the plaintiffs in what is the first major civil suit to be tried under the so-called Ku Klux Klan Act. The organizers of the Unite the Right rally are accused of a conspiracy to commit violence.
“These defendants planned violence on social media and on other communication forums and even in-person conversations,” Spitalnick said. “They went to Charlottesville, committed that violence and then celebrated that violence.”
Some of the two dozen defendants in the case have alleged this is about their first amendment right to free speech, and others have claimed they were just joking. Spitalnick says the event in Charlottesville 4 years ago was no joke nor an accident.
“But rather meticulously planned, online, in social media chats and other communications that will be coming out over the course of trial,” she said. “We have 5.3 terabytes of digital evidence that our team will be presenting.”
All that evidence is some of why the trial is expected the take four weeks. The other part is just the number of parties involved in the case. All nine plaintiffs are expected to take the stand and there are 24 defendants in the federal case.