As details continue to emerge about the situation in Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 12 when white supremacists rallied for racism and hate, there are things we still don't know about Charlottesville. What we do know is that Maumee, Ohio, resident James Alex Fields Jr. allegedly drove his car into a crowd of pedestrians, killing a 32-year-old woman and injuring 10 others. Fields has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding, and failing to stop at the scene of an accident that resulted in a death, the Toledo Blade reported.
We know that President Donald Trump refused to denounce white supremacists who clashed with counter-protestors in Charlottesville's Emancipation Park, instead remarking that "both sides" needed to be peaceful. We know that Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe did what Trump wouldn't, and swiftly condemned white supremacy in both his state of emergency, and during his press conference Saturday.
The news site Dazed Digital reported that the "Unite the Right" rally that was planned in Charlottesville, a city that overwhelmingly supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, was allegedly organized by right-wing blogger Jason Kessler, who called for a “pro-white” rally in Charlottesville. It was supported by white nationalists, fascists, and KKK factions, the site reported. Yesterday, former KKK leader David Duke allegedly said the rally was a “turning point” in the effort to help people like him “fulfill the promises of Donald Trump," which makes Trump's failure to speak out even more troubling.
What don't we know yet, though? Here are the questions that still need answers:
Who Is James Alex Fields Jr.?
Maumee, Ohio, resident James Alex Fields Jr., 20, has been identified as the suspect who allegedly drove his car into a crowd of pedestrians Aug. 12, killing one person and injuring 19 others. The Toledo Blade interviewed Fields' mother who said she was shocked to hear that her son was involved.
She acknowledged knowing that he was planning to attend the rally in Charlottesville, but said she tried to steer clear of her son's political views, and did not know what the rally was about. The mother and son moved to Maumee, a small city next to Toledo, last year from Kentucky, according to the Toledo Blade.
The New York Times reported that Fields was briefly in the military in 2015, but was discharged four months later, and no details were available about why his military tenure was so short. Additionally, the Times reported that Caitlin Robinson, who claimed she attended Ockerman Middle School in Florence, Ky., with Fields, noted that his far-right political views are not new. Fields is currently being held at the Albemarle County Jail.
Who Is Heather D. Heyer?
The woman who was killed when Fields drove his car into the crowd has been identified by police as Heather D. Heyer of Charlottesville, according to the Washington Post. Heyer was one of the counterprotestors who took to the streets Aug. 12 to protest the "Unite the Right" rally. The Post reported that Heyer has a long history of standing up to injustices, including coming to the aid of kids being bullied on the school bus.
Charlottesville city officials said in a statement Sunday that “Heyer was struck down by a vehicle while exercising her peaceful first-amendment right to speech. This senseless act of violence rips a hole in our collective hearts,” the Post reported.
Heyer's friend, Felicia Correa, told the Post that Heather died standing up for what she believed in. "She died for a reason. I don’t see any difference in her or a soldier who died in war. She, in a sense, died for her country. She was there standing up for what was right. I just want to make sure that it wasn’t in vain.”
A Go Fund Me page has been set up in Heyer's honor to assist her family. Heyer's mother, Susan Bro, echoed Correa's statements about Heyer's commitment to fighting for equality to the Huffington Post. She also noted that her daughter would not hate Fields.
"I think he’s still very young, and I’m sorry he believed that hate could fix problems. Hate only brings more hate,” Bro told the Huffington Post. “Heather was not about hate, Heather was about stopping hatred. Heather was about bringing an end to injustice. I don’t want her death to be a focus for more hatred, I want her death to be a rallying cry for justice and equality and fairness and compassion. I’m very sorry that [Fields] chose that path because he has now ruined his life as well as robbed a great many of us of someone we love very much.”
Why Won't Trump Call What Happened In Charlottesville Terrorism?
Many are demanding that Trump refer to the incidents in Charlottesville as domestic terrorism, but Trump has a history of reserving the term "terrorism" for acts of violence committed by non-white, or Muslims. He has largely stayed silent about acts of violence that could be referred to as domestic terrorism if the alleged perpetrators are white.
However, Trump's national security advisor, H.R. McMaster, admitted in an interview with NBC News that the events in Charlottesville do fall under the umbrella of domestic terrorism. Trump, a prolific twitter user, has been largely silent since Saturday's press conference where he refused to denounce white supremacy.