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Jury awards $25 million in damages for Unite the Right violence

Unite the Right Rally-Trial
Posted at 12:15 PM, Nov 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-23 15:30:27-05

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 nearly monthlong civil trial, a jury in U.S. District Court in Charlottesville on Tuesday deadlocked on two key claims but found the white nationalists liable on four other counts.

The jury awarded slightly more than $25 million to nine people who suffered physical or emotional injuries during two days of demonstrations.

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 could not agree on the most serious claims that the defendants engaged in a conspiracy to commit violence under federal law, NBC News reports.

During four weeks of testimony in the trial, the plaintiffs described broken bones, bloodshed, and emotional trauma from the violence, while the defendants argued they were exercising their First Amendment rights by holding the rally, NBC reports.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs invoked a 150-year-old law known as the Ku Klux Klan Act, which was passed after the Civil War to shield freed slaves from violence and protect their civil rights. It also contains a rarely used provision that allows private citizens to sue other citizens for civil rights violations, The Associated Press reports.