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Hymns then blood: victims testify at Charlottesville rally trial

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Before the car hit him, there was an upbeat atmosphere among those protesting a white nationalist rally in Virginia last year, a student recalled in court on Friday.

The next thing Aubtin Heydari, 22, remembered was being soaked in blood and wondering why he could not walk.

Heydari testified at the second day of the trial of James Fields Jr., the white nationalist behind the wheel of the gray Challenger car that struck the victims, killing one and injuring 19 others.

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Fields, 21, faces 10 charges for his role in the violence at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in August 2017, including for the murder of Heather Heyer, a counterprotester killed in the collision, which was captured in widely seen videos.

“A lot of people were singing protest songs and hymns, there was a lot of optimism,” Heydari testified in the Charlottesville Circuit Court, describing the mood before Fields drove into the crowd. Field says he acted in self-defense, terrified by the crowds near his car.

Heydari also suffered a concussion that left him with severe memory loss.

“I remember something being wrong, and seeing blood, but I didn’t remember how, when or why,” he told the court. “I remember not being able to talk and blood running down my face.” He later learned his leg was broken and that he would require multiple surgeries.

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Hundreds of white nationalists had gathered in Charlottesville to protest the planned removal a statue honoring the U.S. Civil War-era Confederacy from a public park. At a rally the night before the incident, they carried torches and chanted anti-Semitic slogans.

Responding after the violence, U.S. President Donald Trump said there were “very fine people on both sides,” drawing criticism from Democrats and fellow Republicans for equating the white nationalists with those who demonstrated against them.

Hours before driving into the crowd, Fields was photographed carrying a shield with the emblem of a far-right group, although the group later denied he was a member.

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The government contends that Fields’ killing of Heyer was pre-meditated murder, which he denies. His trial is expected to last three weeks.

Writing by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Bill Berkrot


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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Netanyahu cancels UN visit over post-poll ‘political context’

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has cancelled his planned visit to the United Nations General Assembly due to the "political context" in Israel, sources in his office told AFP Wednesday.

Initial results from Tuesday's general election show Netanyahu's Likud party tied with the Blue and White alliance of his main challenger, former army chief Benny Gantz.

According to Israeli media, with more than 90 percent of ballots counted, Netanyahu's right-wing Likud had 31 seats, while Gantz's Blue and White took 32 places in Israel's 120-member parliament.

If the results hold, it will be a major setback for Netanyahu, who hoped to form a right-wing coalition similar to his current administration as he faces possible corruption charges in the weeks ahead.

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Whoopi Goldberg drops the hammer on Trump impeachment: ‘We’re a lawless country right now — open your eyes’

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"The View" host Whoopi Goldberg urged viewers to open their eyes to President Donald Trump's lawlessness -- and demand accountability.

The show's panelists discussed former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski's testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, which co-host Abby Huntsman denounced as a "total embarrassment for democracy," and Goldberg said it was even worse than that.

"Even if you start to impeach him, he's there for the next two years," said Goldberg, who was wearing a wig from her upcoming role in Stephen King's "The Stand." "It's going to take that long. Look how long it took to impeach (Bill) Clinton."

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Let me take you down: Strawberry Field opens to public

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Beatles fans can now take a trip through the childhood sanctuary of John Lennon that inspired the seminal song "Strawberry Fields Forever", with the former children's home opening its doors to the public.

Lennon used to climb over the fence from his aunt's house, where he grew up, and play with other children at the Strawberry Field orphanage.

Its importance in shaping Lennon's personality was laid bare in the classic 1967 psychedelic hit.

Around 60,000 fans flock each year to the site to have their photographs taken outside the famous red gates, but until now have never been allowed beyond.

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