Charlottesville, VA – After four long years of litigation the lawsuit trial against leading white supremacist organizers and groups kicked off on October 25, 2021 at the federal courthouse in Charlottesville, Virginia. Attorneys for victims of the ‘Unite the Right’ racist attacks are seeking justice in a civil lawsuit.
Called ‘Sines v. Kessler’ for short, the trial expected to last a full month, just a few blocks from where convicted defendant James Alex Fields killed Heather Heyer and injured dozens more, including several plaintiffs in the case.
The lawsuit seeks to prove that the white supremacists were motivated by ‘racial animus’, and organized premeditated violence, which is unlawful and actionable under the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act.
Unicorn Riot covered the rally in 2017 and obtained hundreds of thousands of chats among the far-right organizers and participants which we published in our **Discord Leaks data journalism collection**. Check out our Far-Right Investigations Desk page for an introduction to our coverage of UTR and related stories.
We are covering this trial closely – up to the minute with live tweets from the press room. (Please note these are high-speed breaking updates, subject to change, clarification and correction).
The trial is expected to last four weeks – nearly until the end of November.
Tuning in to the Trial
Visual press access is limited to around a dozen seats for reporters in the courthouse’s grand jury room, which grants access to a single low-resolution video camera feed. A teleconference line hosted by AT&T usually permits audio access to the general public. The dial-in number for court audio is (888) 808-6929 and the code is 4334643 (followed by a # pound sign).
Besides the socially-distanced press room, there are two private rooms in the courthouse for supporters of the plaintiffs and the defendants.
Judge Norman K. Moon is the senior judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia. Born in 1936, he’s between 84 and 85 years old and was appointed by President Bill Clinton 1936.
Earlier in the case, Magistrate Judge Joel Hoppe made rulings on motions by both sides.
The plaintiffs claiming harm and seeking damages in this case are Elizabeth Sines, Seth Wispelwey, Marissa Blair, Tyler Magill, April Muniz, Hannah Pearce, Marcus Martin, Natalie Romero, and Chelsea Alverado. 7 of the plaintiffs were injured in the car attack by James Alex Fields, Jr. Others were assaulted and injured during events surrounding Unite The Right on August 11-12, 2017.
The defendants named in the final version of the suit are Jason Kessler, Richard Spencer, Christopher Cantwell, James Alex Fields, Jr., Vanguard America, Andrew Anglin, Moonbase Holdings, LLC, Robert “Azzmador” Ray, Nathan Damigo, Elliott Kline aka Eli Mosley, Identity Evropa, Matthew Heimbach, Matthew Parrott aka David Matthew Parrott, Traditionalist Worker Party, Michael Hill, Michael Tubbs, League of the South, Jeff Schoep, National Socialist Movement, Nationalist Front, Augustus Sol Invictus, Fraternal Order of the Alt-Knights, Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and East Coast Knights of the Ku Klux Klan aka East Coast Knights of the True Invisible Empire. Michael “Enoch” Peinovich was previously a defendant in the case but managed to get himself dropped.
This trial has already generated a huge volume of material. Thousands of separate exhibits, including text messages, emails, phone carrier locations, and much more have been entered by the plaintiffs.
- Plaintiffs’ second amended complaint (PDF, 111 pages, Sept. 17, 2019)
- Juror Questionnaire (PDF, 16 pages, Oct. 6, 2021)
- Judge’s Order for Adverse Inference against National Socialist Movement (PDF, 27 pages June 23, 2021)
- Plaintiffs’ Motion for Sanctions Against Eli Mosley & Matthew Heimbach (PDF, 160 pages, Apr. 3, 2019)
Previous Unicorn Riot Coverage
- White Supremacists To Hold “Unite The Right” Rally in Charlottesville (Aug. 11, 2017)
- Violent White Supremacist Rally in Charlottesville Ends in Murder (Aug. 12, 2017)
- LEAKED: The Planning Meetings that Led Up to Neo-Nazi Terrorism in Charlottesville (Aug. 17, 2017)
- DATA RELEASE: Discord Logs Expose Regional Networks Planning for #UniteTheRight (Aug. 29, 2017)
- Charlottesville Violence Planned Over Discord Servers: Unicorn Riot Reports (September 5, 2017)