Civil trial over Unite the Right rally began today

U.S District Court House in Charlottesville (Photo by CNN)

By The Associated Press

Opening statements began this morning in the civil trial for the white nationalists who planned the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville. The trial is to determine whether they will be held responsible for the violence that erupted. It is taking place in the U.S. District Court in Charlottesville.

The process of choosing a jury was completed Wednesday, the third day of jury selection.

Hundreds of white nationalists descended on Charlottesville on Aug. 11 and Aug. 12, 2017, ostensibly to protest city plans to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

The federal lawsuit accuses some of the country’s most well-known white nationalists of orchestrating a conspiracy to commit violence against Blacks, Jewish people and others based on race, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation.

The lawsuit seeks monetary damages against two dozen white nationalists and organizations. It also seeks a judgment that the defendants violated the constitutional rights of nine plaintiffs who were physically injured or emotionally scarred by the violence.

The plaintiffs include four people who were hurt when James Alex Fields Jr., a self-avowed Hitler admirer, rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one woman and injuring dozens. Fields is serving life in prison on charges of murder and hate crimes. He is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

The trial is expected to last about a month.