CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — A jury has awarded millions of dollars in damages against white nationalist leaders for violence that erupted during the 2017 Unite the Right rally.
After a civil trial that lasted nearly a month, a Charlottesville jury on Tuesday rejected two claims. But it found the white nationalists responsible for four other counts.
Nine people who sustained emotional or physical injuries in two days of demonstrations were awarded little more than $25,000,000 by the jury.
The lawsuit accused some of the country’s most well-known white nationalists of plotting the violence, including Jason Kessler, the rally’s main organizer; Richard Spencer, who coined the term “alt-right”; and Christopher Cantwell, a white supremacist who became known as the “crying Nazi.”
The jury was unable to agree on the most grave allegations that the defendants had conspired under federal law to commit violence. NBC News reports.
NBC reports that the trial lasted four weeks and the plaintiffs gave evidence about broken bones, bloodshed and emotional trauma caused by the violence. The defendants argued that they were exercising their First Amendment rights to hold the rally.
The plaintiffs’ lawyers invoked the 150-year-old Ku Klux Klan Act law, which was created after the Civil War to protect freed slaves from violence. The law also includes a rare provision that permits private citizens to sue others for violations of civil rights. The Associated Press reports.