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Alleged Charlottesville Driver Who Killed One Rallied With Alt-Right Vanguard America Group

Jason Kessler’s planned “Unite the Right” (UTR) rally today in Charlottesville resulted in the death of one pedestrian and numerous injuries after a Dodge Challenger sped into a large crowd before slamming into two vehicles. The Challenger immediately reversed and fled the scene leaving behind its bumper and a pile of wounded victims. 

The suspect was arrested nearby. Although far-right internet trolls initially claimed that the driver was an “anti-Trump open borders Bernie Sanders supporter” based on a mistaken identity dredged up from Reddit, James Alex Fields was later identified as the driver of the car. Fields is being held without bail on charges of second degree murder, one count of hit-and-run, failure to stop with injury and three counts of malicious wounding. He will be arraigned before a judge on Monday.

The crash followed violent conflicts between far-right demonstrators, Antifascist (AntiFa) protesters, and police that resulted in tear gas canisters detonating in the streets amid scores of arrests and hospitalizations.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency shortly before the event.

While speculation still surrounds Fields’ motives, available photography appears to show Fields present at the UTR event with members of Vanguard America, a racist right-wing organization that helped Kessler organize the event.

Fields with shield second from left.

Fields mug shot.

The banner image of a Facebook page that appears to belong to Fields features the Othela rune, popular among Neo-Nazis and the far right.

Vanguard America is a group that has grown out of the previous existence of American Vanguard, following a split between its members in the past several months. American Vanguard grew out of the Iron March forum community, but also endured a serious split with the site and those faithful to it.

Before calling itself American Vanguard, the group called itself Reaction America.

In the past few months, much alleged violence has arisen from the Iron March community. Devon Arthurs was arrested for the alleged murder of two of his three roommates. The third, Brandon Russell, was later arrested on charges related to explosives. Russell has admitted to authorities that he was a member of AtomWaffen Division, a group that still calls Iron March its digital home base. Upon his arrest law enforcement found two rifles, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, binoculars, and a skull mask in the vehicle that he and another man were traveling in.

The banner image of a Facebook page that appears to belong to Fields features the Othela rune, popular among Neo-Nazis and the far right (read more on symbols and flags used by far-right groups in Charlottesville).

As crowds began to disperse from the planned rally under threat of arrest, a large crowd composed of members of Anti-Racist Action, Showing Up for Racial Justice, Black Lives Matter, AntiFa, and other counter-protest groups proceeded down Charlottesville’s densely packed 4th street before being mowed down from behind by the Challenger.

Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal, was killed.

UPDATE: Vanguard America has released a statement claiming that Fields was not an official member. 

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