The organizers of the deadly "Unite the Right" rally four years ago in Charlottesville were found liable for more than $26 million in damages, but the trial also cost them the allure they held for some followers.
White supremacists Richard Spencer and Chris Cantwell acted as their own attorneys during the trial, which they tried to use as a platform to amuse themselves and attract new followers to their racist cause, but Slate legal columnist Dahlia Lithwick said they failed miserably in their efforts.
"If the purpose of this lawsuit was to unearth the web of connections and funding among Nazi groups, it was a resounding success," Liwthwick writes. "If the purpose was to tarnish the once fresh-scrubbed flat-front khaki 'alt-right' and to reveal them for what they really are, reconstructed Nazis and aging klansmen as boring as the original iterations of white supremacy, it was also a success. The jury sent a $26 million message that the defendants had participated in a conspiracy to commit racially motivated harassment and intimation, and that makes them losers."
Spencer seemed to agree, and declared the alt-right "long dead and gone" as he left the courthouse, and Lithwick said the rally's organizers and neo-Nazi James Fields, who killed protester Heather Heyer with his car during the march, had been effectively ground to dust.
"Yet $26 million in damages is a sobering amount," Lithwick writes. "It isn't everything, but it's a whole lot. While these defendants will seek to have the amounts reduced, the fact is that the jury saw fit to condemn their actions wholeheartedly and substantially. Several of the defendants have already declared bankruptcy and some may be unable to pay. Fields is in jail for the rest of his life and Cantwell will return to prison, where he is serving a term for violent sexual threats against another white supremacist. Spencer is broke and his wife has left him, alleging violent abuse."
"This isn't about squeezing blood from a stone," she adds. "It's about widespread agreement that the stone sucks."