Trial of Charlottesville 'Unite the Right' rally organizers set to start

A civil trial will begin on Monday to determine whether the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va. was part of a conspiracy to engage in racially motivated violence, according to The Washington Post

Nine people filed a lawsuit, which is backed by Integrity First for America, alleging physical harm and emotional distress during the rally, during which a counter-protester was killed and dozens more were injured when a man intentionally drove his car into a crowd. 

“Defendants brought with them to Charlottesville the imagery of the Holocaust, of slavery, of Jim Crow, and of fascism,” the plaintiffs said in their complaint, per the Post. “They also brought with them semi-automatic weapons, pistols, mace, rods, armor, shields, and torches.”

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Leaked messages from the rally's planners contain slurs regarding Black and Jewish people as well as talk of cracking skulls and driving into crowds. The messages the court will consider are part of over 5 terabytes of evidence, the Post reported.

"One message of this case is that these events — like Charlottesville, like Jan. 6 — they’re not these spontaneous, flukish events that just happen," Karen Dunn, who is representing the plaintiffs, said to the Post. "There is an enormous undercurrent of planning, of intent and of purposefulness that we all need to wake up to."

The attorneys for the plaintiffs reportedly intend to use a law from the Reconstruction era that was intended to protect emancipated Black people from the Ku Klux Klan, the Post noted.

The defendants are some of the most notorious white supremacist and neo-Nazi figures in the country. The Post reported that some of them are expected to testify during the trial, but documents indicate that others have not complied with court orders. 

The defendants intend to blame the violence on counter-protestors and lack of police preparedness. They will argue that their violent messages were protected speech regarding a permitted rally to protest Charlottesville's plans to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, the Post added. 

The Hill has reached out to attorneys for the defendants and plaintiffs for more information.

Updated at 3:33 p.m.