Domestic Terrorism – Charlottesville, Virginia

18 U.S. Code § 2331 – Definitions

(5) the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that —

(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;

(B) appear to be intended—

(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and

(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.

There is much press coverage of POTUS’s response to the incidents centered on the fact that:

  1. he hasn’t labeled the running down of pedestrians  terrorism,
  2. condemned the racism aspect of the Unite-The-Right rally to protest the removal of the Robert E. Lee Sculpture in Emancipation Park nor the Friday night march on University of Virginia.
  3. or the clashes with the anti-fa and other counter-protestors.

I use the term incidents to cover:
1) The Friday night tiki-torch parade
2) T
he Saturday Unite-the-Right Rally
3) The violent clashes between Unite-the-Right and Anti-fa protesters (Friday & Saturday)
4) The running down of pedestrians using a car


This map, from Vox, show the sites of the various incidents.

charlottesville_map
Credit: Javier Zarracina/Vox

Friday & Saturday Clashes

Friday Night

Vox reports:

A group of some 100 white nationalists marched on the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville, VA, Friday night carrying tiki torches and chanting Nazi slogans including “Sieg heil” and “blood and soil” and giving the Nazi salute.

The march was a prelude to a larger planned “Unite the Right” rally on Saturday to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in a park in Charlottesville. Leaders of the “alt-right” are scheduled to speak before an audience of hundreds of right-wing activists.

At one point during Friday night’s rally, a brawl broke out when demonstrators — nearly all white men — surrounded a small group of counterprotesters who were peacefully surrounding a statue of Thomas Jefferson at the center of campus. Counterprotesters reported being hit with pepper spray by marchers; according to the Washington Post, one counterprotester also used a “chemical spray” against marchers. “They completely surrounded us and wouldn’t let us out,” local activist Emily Gorcenski told the Guardian.

I believe, based on the lack of police presence at the Jefferson Statue, that his was an unsanctioned march.  Police arrived after the altercation started, based on one report.

A more detailed timeline an map of march from Nameless Field (~9:00 PM)  to Thomas Jefferson Statue on UVA campus (~9:10), normally a 10 minute walk:

Base on several article I believe the major clashes involved verbal altercations and pepper spray being used vice physical attacks with sticks or punching.  I could find no reports of hospitalization or images of ambulances on scene.  Likewise no reports of arrest.

The iconic picture that saturated the internet:

TikiTorch
Nothing will strike fear in the hearts of far left more than white guys marching with backyard Tiki Torches.

Aside to the planners of his march, you need a new image consultant, backyard Tiki Torches ARE NOT manly or fearsome.  Can you envision the classic Frankenstein Torch-Wielding Mob with backyard Tiki Torches?

Frankenstein

I guess you could have done worst, paper cups with candles or sparklers.


Since there were no arrest, there is no prima facie case that this was domestic terrorism. Certainly the elements:

(B) appear to be intended—

(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;


The counter-protestors surrounded at the campus Robert E. Lee statue certainly felt intimidated.

FridayMarch

But it was not more intimidating than situations that have occurred at other protest.


C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.

were present, but it would be difficult, if not impossible to show:

(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
and
(B-ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(B-iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and

Therefore I conclude that the Friday night march was not Domestic Terrorism.

Were the marchers an amalgamation of racist groups?  yes.

Are their views contrary to mainstream American values? yes.

Do they have the right to free speech? yes, just like fringe groups on the left of the political spectrum who hold anarchist views that are also contrary to mainstream American values.

Are all who oppose the removal of statuary of civil war figures racist?  No, some of us see it as a form of revisionist history.  Remember, Arlington National Cemetery was Robert E. Lee’s home, and other civil war related national monuments such as Ft. Sumter which is the site of southern victory in the first battle of the civil war.

If the basis for removal of the statuary is slave ownership, then the scope is larger than the civil war era figures.   Do we go into public cemeteries and remove Civil War related icons?   The other argument I have heard is these were traitors, in which case we certainly need to remove the Benedict Arnold Monument in Stillwater, New York.  Do we expand it to all racism and remove all statues of those involved in the Indian wars?

That said, as a states right advocate I also believe local government have authority over public lands in their jurisdictions, if they legally decide to remove edifices from public land, that is their prerogative.


I have noticed on FB that the revisionist history belief appears to be my generation (possibly of southerner heritage), while the hateful edifice/triators belief appears to be the following generation.   Not a scientific poll.


Saturday Rally

It should be noted that the Unite-The-Right organization had a permit to rally in protest a City decision to remove the Robert E. Lee statue.  The legality of the removal is under court review.

The City attempted to relocate the rally, but the relocation was appealed by the ACLU and district Judge Glen Conrad agreed, ruling that “Kessler has shown that he will likely prove that the decision to revoke his permit was based on the content of his speech.”

The two sides, I will identify them as Unite-The-Right and Anti-fa, are an amalgamation of groups/factions, and in my opinion there are elements of both that are looking for or expecting violent confrontation, note headgear and sticks on both sides. 

Scuffles

That said, there were reports of clashes, both sides claiming to having been attacked.  There was enough violence that the police to declare the rally an unlawful gathering at 11:36 AM and Virginia Governor declared a State of Emergency at 11:38 AM Saturday Morning.  There were reports of minor injuries on both sides, but no reporting of hospital admissions as a result of the skirmishes.

Injuries

To the best of my knowledge, only three arrest were made.  All those arrested were from outside the area:

  1. Troy Dunigan, 21, of Chattanooga, Tenn., was charged with disorderly conduct,
  2. Jacob L. Smith, 21, of Louisa, Va., was charged with misdemeanor assault and battery,
  3. James M. O’Brien, 44, of Gainesville, Fla., was charged with carrying a concealed weapon.  The Tampa Tribune reports:

[O’Brien said his arrest was] not related to the rally, called “Unite the Right” by its organizers. He said he was given a misdemeanor citation and sent on his way for an incident in which police thought he was breaking into his own car after he lost his car keys. A photo of the citation provided by O’Brien had an issuance time of 6:38 p.m., hours after the demonstration.

“I voluntarily disclosed the weapon and was issued a misdemeanor citation,” O’Brien said. “I do not know why the State Police have stated what they did.”

O’Brien has a blog which indicated that he was at the rally, earlier in the day.  The “blog espousing white nationalist beliefs and encouraging violence against the political left.”

If we eliminate Mr. O’Brien from the list we have two arrested for violence.  Given the state of emergency declaration and law enforcement presence either the violence was not a pervasive as being reported or law enforcement was lax in making arrest.

It should also be noted that there was zero property damage Friday night or Saturday morning.

My view on this being Domestic Terrorism is the same a Friday nights march.

There is no prima facie case that this was domestic terrorism. Certainly the elements:

(B) appear to be intended—

(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;

(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or

(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.

were present, but it would be difficult, if not impossible to show:

(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;

and

(B-iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and

Therefore I conclude that the Saturday Rally was not Domestic Terrorism.

Were the marchers an amalgamation of racist groups?  yes.

Were there elements on both sides that were prepared for and spoiling for a confrontation? Yes.

Are their views contrary to mainstream American values? yes.

Do they have the right to free speech? yes, just like fringe groups on the left of the political spectrum who hold anarchist views that are also contrary to mainstream American values.

Are all who oppose the removal of statuary of civil war figures racist?  No

Saturday Car Runs Down Pedestrian

CNN provided this summary of events, [times added]:

  • Counterprotesters met white nationalists and other right-wing groups at the site of Saturday’s “Unite the Right” event hours before the rally was set to start.
  • Clashes broke out, and police began to disperse crowds.
  • Local officials declared the rally an “unlawful assembly,” and the governor declared a state of emergency [11:38 AM].
  • About two hours later [1:13 PM], a gray Dodge Challenger rammed into a crowd of counterprotesters walking down a street in downtown Charlottesville.
  • The driver slammed the car in reverse and fled the scene backward. The suspected driver was arrested later that afternoon.

There is certainly a prima facie case that the car driven into the crowd of counter-protesters following the cancellation, via a declaration of unlawful assembly, of the Unite-the-Right rally was an act of Domestic Terrorism.  The elements, acts dangerous to human life, violation of the criminal laws, and intimidate or coerce a civilian population, all appear to be present and the act appears to be intentional, which distinguish it from a tragic accident.

Trump’s Tweets

Friday, August 11th

In my review of @realDonaldTrump I found no Charlottesville related tweets.

Saturday, August 12th

Prior to 11:38 State of Emergency Declaration

In my review of @realDonaldTrump I found no Charlottesville related tweets.

Between 11:38 and 1:13 Auto Running Down of Pedestrians

In my review of @realDonaldTrump I found no Charlottesville related tweets.

After 1:13 Auto Running Down of Pedestrians

Trump1-23
Tweet at 1:23, 10 minutes after Auto Plows into counterprotesters.

[Link to Video]

Trump2-19
Tweet at 2:19, 2 hrs. 6 min. after auto plows into counterprotesters

[Video Link]

Trump2-49
Tweet @ 2:49, 2 hrs. 36 min. after auto plows into counterprotesters

[Video Link]

Trump3-50
Tweets @ 3:50 & 4:25

Whitehouse Press Release

Monday, August 14 @12:38 PM

I just met with FBI Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.  The Department of Justice has opened a civil rights investigation into the deadly car attack that killed one innocent American and wounded 20 others.  To anyone who acted criminally in this weekend’s racist violence, you will be held fully accountable.  Justice will be delivered.

As I said on Saturday, we condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence.  It has no place in America.

And as I have said many times before:  No matter the color of our skin, we all live under the same laws, we all salute the same great flag, and we are all made by the same almighty God.  We must love each other, show affection for each other, and unite together in condemnation of hatred, bigotry, and violence.  We must rediscover the bonds of love and loyalty that bring us together as Americans.

Racism is evil.  And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.

We are a nation founded on the truth that all of us are created equal.  We are equal in the eyes of our Creator.  We are equal under the law.  And we are equal under our Constitution.  Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America.

Two days ago, a young American woman, Heather Heyer, was tragically killed.  Her death fills us with grief, and we send her family our thoughts, our prayers, and our love.

We also mourn the two Virginia state troopers who died in service to their community, their commonwealth, and their country.  Troopers Jay Cullen and Burke Bates exemplify the very best of America, and our hearts go out to their families, their friends, and every member of American law enforcement.

These three fallen Americans embody the goodness and decency of our nation.  In times such as these, America has always shown its true character:  responding to hate with love, division with unity, and violence with an unwavering resolve for justice.

As a candidate, I promised to restore law and order to our country, and our federal law enforcement agencies are following through on that pledge.  We will spare no resource in fighting so that every American child can grow up free from violence and fear.  We will defend and protect the sacred rights of all Americans, and we will work together so that every citizen in this blessed land is free to follow their dreams in their hearts, and to express the love and joy in their souls.

What Would Have Happened

What if the news organizations had agreed to cover the Unite-The-Right Rally with one pool news van and the counterprotesters had boycotted the rally.

My speculation a 60 second report on the nightly news and page 3 in the daily newspaper.

 

 

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