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Neo-Nazi group ordered to pay $10,000 to survivor of rally car attack

Neo-Nazi group ordered to pay $10,000 to survivor of rally car attack

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Matthew Heimbach

Matthew Heimbach, white nationalist and leader of the Traditionalist Worker Party, addresses the media on Aug. 14, 2017, outside of Charlottesville General District Court while James Alex Fields Jr. was being arraigned.

The Ohio-based neo-Nazi group the Traditionalist Worker Party will pay a Unite the Right car attack survivor $10,000 and be removed as a defendant in a federal lawsuit.

The suit was filed on behalf of William “Bill” Burke in May 2019 in the Southern District of Ohio U.S. District Court. Burke was among the dozens of people injured when James Alex Fields Jr. drove his car into a crowd of anti-racist counter-protestors. Fields has since been convicted of murdering Heather Heyer and of committing federal hate crimes.

Burke, who attended the Aug. 12, 2017, rally to protest against racism, testified at both Fields’ state and federal sentencing hearings, sharing not only the physical toll the rally and car attack took on him, but the emotional and mental damage, as well.

Burke’s lawsuit alleges that though the rally was ostensibly about a Charlottesville City Council vote to remove a downtown statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, the rally also was intended to explicitly send a message of white supremacy.

According to a recent court order, a $10,000 judgment entry — which is not a settlement — was entered against the Traditionalist Worker Party. The judgment means TWP will pay the sum and be dismissed as a defendant from the lawsuit.

TWP sought to dismiss the lawsuit on several occasions, the most recent of which was denied on Oct. 21.

“We hope that this judgment helps pave the way for holding instigators, inciters and conspirators of right-wing violence and terrorism accountable,” said Michael Fradin, Burke’s attorney. “True to [Burke’s] activism, beliefs and the spirit of this endeavor, $1,000 from the anticipated recovery will be paid to the PRIZM LGBTQA+ Youth Art Program.”

Over the last two years, most of the defendants in Burke’s case have either been dismissed or agreed to pay a financial judgment against them.

In December 2019, Fradin wrote that his client did not object to the dismissal of Fields and rally organizer Jason Kessler, nor of Vanguard America, Robert Ray, Mathew Heimbach, Proud Boys, Richard Spencer, National Front, Augustus Sol Invictus, Honorable Sacred Knights and 2,000 unnamed individuals.

Two months later, a judgment against former KKK leader David Duke was entered, ordering him to pay $5,000 to Burke and effectively dismissing him from the lawsuit. Both Duke and Burke claimed the payment as victory, with an attorney for the former describing the $5,000 sum as “insignificant.”

The National Policy Institute is the only remaining defendant in Burke’s case. NPI, a white supremacist think tank, was ruled to be in default earlier this year after failing to plead responses to Burke’s complaint in a timely manner, which means the court can proceed to offer a default judgment in the plaintiff’s favor.

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