James Alex Fields Jr. stared blankly as a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder on Friday for driving his car into a crowd of people.
The Ohio neo-Nazi also was convicted of five counts of aggravated malicious wounding, three counts of malicious wounding and one count of hit-and-run for the car attack that killed Heather Heyer and injured dozens of other people protesting a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, 2017.
Fields, 21, will face six potential life sentences in prison when sentencing begins Monday.
After the verdict, Susan Bro, Heyer’s mother, and Samantha Bloom, Fields’ mother, exited the courtroom quickly and quietly, but others lingered before the assembled members of the media.
Led by community activist Rosia Parker, members of the Charlottesville community chant in solidarity with the victims.— Tyler Hammel (@TylerHammelVA) December 7, 2018
Parker began the chant by reclaiming a chant used by Unite the Right attendees on Aug 12: You will not replace us pic.twitter.com/RDhhNkxKBy
Rosia Parker, Katrina Turner and other local activists raised their fists on the steps of the courthouse, chanting, “Whose streets? Our streets.”
Marcus Martin, whose leg was broken in the attack, led a group to the parking lot of a nearby church. About two dozen people gathered in the low glow of car headlights and sang, “We will walk with you, Charlottesville, and sing your spirit home.”
Then, they began marching.
At Heyer’s memorial on Fourth Street, the group clustered tightly.
“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it,” Parker proclaimed. “Today, we have reclaimed our streets.”
They wound their way along the Downtown Mall, singing and dancing as bystanders clapped, eventually reaching the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, the site of the white supremacist Unite the Right rally on Aug. 12, 2017.
Marched to the site of the car attack pic.twitter.com/0R7C7HQ08j— Allison Wrabel (@craftypanda) December 7, 2018
Activists noted that they were seeking justice not just for Heyer, but also for people such as Sage Smith, a black trans woman whose 2012 disappearance is still being investigated.
Parker closed out the march by reclaiming a chant used by white supremacists throughout their rallies in Charlottesville and at the University of Virginia: “You will not replace us.”
The participants then disbanded, hugging each other as they left.
A moment to remember murdered trans women: pic.twitter.com/b5JdcRU3S6— Allison Wrabel (@craftypanda) December 7, 2018
Star Peterson, who was injured in the attack, said after the march that she feels like a weight has been lifted.
“I didn’t realize I was carrying this lead weight around since the car attack and I just feel really, really light,” she said. “These past two weeks have been hard, it’s been very hard to hear the evidence, it’s been hard to hear the defense make their case, it’s been hard to hear people I love testify about being hurt.”
Peterson said the activist community helped her get through the past two weeks.
“They’ve been here for me; people are constantly checking in to see if I need anything,” she said. “We’re just always hugging one another — we take care of one another.”
Constance Young, another survivor, said she thought the verdict was a great step in the right direction for everyone who was injured, as well as the anti-racist activists who came to Charlottesville that August day.
"I also felt that this sort of justice is the best-case scenario in terms of punitive justice, but this isn't restorative for me," she said. "Heather's not coming back, many people still have pins and screws in their bodies and we're all going to continue to live our lives with this trauma."
Two more days have been allotted for the sentencing phase. Judge Richard E. Moore said the jury will return at 9:30 a.m. Monday to hear victim impact statements and decide Fields’ sentences.
The jury will decide on a potential prison sentence of 20 years to life for the first-degree murder charge, 20 years to life for each count of aggravated malicious wounding, five to 20 years for each count of malicious wounding, and zero to 10 years for the hit-and-run charge.