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Charlottesville Unite the Right civil suit: Prosecutors seek to prove organizers prepared for a violent showdown from the start

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“There is one thing about this case that should be made crystal-clear at the outset — the violence in Charlottesville was no accident,” the federal lawsuit argues.

Seven jurors were selected Monday. They will decide whether organizers intended to wreak havoc in Charlottesville in August 2017. Some jurors were dismissed because they could not set aside preconveived opinions about the rally. Others were dismissed or excused for health reasons or conflicts with their jobs.

The plaintiffs, who include town residents and counterprotesters injured in two days of clashes in August 2017, contend the organizers of the rally engaged in a conspiracy. The 10 individuals are seeking “compensatory and statutory” damages for physical and emotional injuries they suffered.

Americans were jolted by footage of fighting among White nationalists, supremacists and counterprotesters. The violence culminated when James Fields — who joined White nationalists and others opposed to the city’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee — drove his car through a crowd of counterprotesters. Dozens were injured and Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal, was killed.
In the years since the rally, some of the defendants — including White supremacist Christopher Cantwell — have also faced criminal charges related to their activities.
Charlottesville removes two Confederate statues as onlookers cheer

W. Edward ReBrook IV, attorney for three organizations and three individuals named in the suit, told CNN in a statement that after years of court filings, the “plaintiffs have yet to produce a single piece of evidence to support their claim of a conspiracy to commit violence in Charlottesville.”

But the plaintiffs argue there is plenty of such evidence they will present at the Charlottesville trial. They also say rally participants bragged after the event, in military terms, about the violence they instigated.

The 2017 rally turned the city into another battleground in America’s culture wars and highlighted growing polarization. It was also an event that empowered White supremacists and nationalists to demonstrate their beliefs in public rather than just in online chatrooms.

Organizers wanted to ignite race war, the suit says

The plaintiffs include college students, city residents and a clergy member. Four were struck by the car driven by Fields, the complaint reads. Others claim they were kicked, punched or spat upon.

Attorneys contend organizers of the Unite the Right rally planned for a violent showdown from the start.

Organizer Jason Kessler applied for the permit for the rally in May 2017, claiming the event would be a protest against the removal of the Lee statue, the complaint said. City Council voted to remove the statue in April 2017, and in June that year it voted to rename the park Emancipation Park.
Hundreds of White nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the "alt-right" are confronted by protesters  during the "United the Right" rally August 12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The rally organizers chose Charlottesville so the debate and protest around the statues could serve as a catalyst for a race and religious war, the complaint reads. White supremacists, neo-Nazis, along with groups such as the Proud Boys and the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, were in the city for events in May, June and July 2017.

James Fields

While Kessler’s permit was for only August 12, the attendees began arriving August 11 and participated in the infamous torchlight march that resulted in counterprotesters being kicked, punched and spit on near the university’s Rotunda, the complaint reads.

The next day was more violent, with clashes all over the city. The violence reached its tipping point when Fields drove into a crowd. An attorney said that he was acting in self-defense. Fields is serving two concurrent life sentences.
The Confederate statues that were the center of violence in 2017 were taken down in July 2021. The statues of Lee in Market Street Park and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson in Court Square Park were removed to the applause of a gathering crowd.

Defendants include individuals, groups

The 2017 lawsuit — which was amended in 2019 — lists 10 White supremacist and nationalist organizations, including Moonbase Holdings LLC, the company that runs the Daily Stormer website; the League of the South, the Nationalist Socialist Movement and at least two chapters of the KKK.

Fourteen individuals are named. They include Fields, Kessler, Richard Spencer, who was the lead organizer for the August 11 torchlight rally, and Cantwell, who became the face of the rally after being featured in a Vice documentary.

Cantwell wrote in a September 22 letter to the court that in 2017 he and his associates applied for a permit “to hold a demonstration.” The group was denied the permit, sued and won the right to demonstrate.

“We were threatened with violence by the Plaintiffs’ co-conspirators, as we had been countless times before. But we relied on the police to keep us separate, as we had countless times before, and were left with little choice but to defend ourselves when the promised protection failed to materialize,” Cantwell wrote, adding an “army of Jewish lawyers” was behind the lawsuit.

CNN has reached out to other attorneys representing other defendants. Elmer Woodard, an attorney for three, declined to comment.

Many of the defendants have said they did not instigate the violence.

“Harsh and bold words, as well as scuffles, are simply a reality of political protests, which are, by their very nature, contentious and controversial,” Spencer wrote in a 2018 motion to dismiss the case.

But attorneys for the plaintiffs claim the rally was an attempt to spread hateful ideologies and make them more mainstream.

Hundreds of White nationalists and neo-Nazis march in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.
The defendants used the internet to “solidify a stable and self-sustaining counter-culture,” the complaint reads. Much of the activity toward planning the event and executing violent actions was done through the chat app known as Discord, where users can “set up a series of private, invite-only servers, each providing a space for real-time group discussion,” the complaint reads. Discord is not part of the lawsuit.

The lawsuit accuses organizers of using violent imagery to promote the rally on social media. Images such as a man wielding a hammer in the motion of swinging it at the Star of David and a poster reading “FIGHT UNTIL THE LAST DROP” with a hand holding a knife were just some of the images used to promote the event.

White nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the "alt-right" clash with counterprotesters as they enter Lee Park during the "Unite the Right" rally August 12, 2017, in Charlottesville.

“Defendants took no steps to prevent any violence,” the complaint reads. “To the contrary, consistent with their conspiracy to encourage and enable violence, Defendants and co-conspirators reinforced a false narrative of a larger — necessarily violent — racial and religious war in which Unite the Right events were a critical moment.”

The events of August 11 and 12 were viewed as a victory to the organizers and attendees, the plaintiffs argue.

“We are going to be back,” Spencer said, according to the complaint.

Plaintiffs say they are still dealing with aftermath

Those who filed the lawsuit argue they suffered life-altering injuries during the rally.

Some were unable to return to work or school, experienced fits of crying or developed depression, the amended complaint reads. Only one — a Black man — is not identified; he is simply listed as “John Doe.”

Why white nationalists are drawn to Charlottesville
Fields’ car “narrowly missed” Marrisa Blair, a paralegal who lives in Charlottesville, because her fiancé, Marcus Martin, pushed her out of the way before being hit himself, the complaint reads. Blair was friends with Heather Heyer, the woman killed during the rally.

UVA student Natalie Romero, Richmond resident Chelsea Alvarado and Charlottesville resident Thomas Baker were also hit by the car. Other plaintiffs said they were either verbally or physically assaulted during the event.

According to the lawsuit, Romero did not return to campus because of anxiety. Alvarado says she suffered a concussion after she was hit by Fields’ car, developed depression and was isolated from her family.

The complaint said Baker would need hip replacement surgery as a result of being hit by the car. He says he is also triggered by flashbacks and has panic attacks.

White nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the "alt-right" clash with counterprotesters on August 12, 2017.

Martin says he was unable to work for about nine months after the rally. He has flashbacks, which has led him to mental health counseling, according to the complaint.

“For days after the attack, Blair found herself short of breath, shaking, and crying uncontrollably at times.” Blair still has trouble focusing, the complaint says, and is frightened of Dodge Challengers — the model of car Fields was driving.

CNN’s Elle Reeve, Dakin Andone, Mallory Simon, Sara Sidner, Jason Hanna, Ralph Ellis, Ellie Kaufman and Steve Almasy contributed to this report.



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As Big Tech stocks get slaughtered, Intel rises from the ashes

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The company is taking steps to address the issue, most notably by stepping up production in America. Intel announced plans Friday to invest more than $20 billion on two new semiconductor plants in Ohio. President Biden will discuss the Intel news later Friday.
Intel shares are up 3% in 2022 while rivals Nvidia (NVDA) and AMD (AMD) have each fallen more than 10%. Intel is outperforming the rest of the chip industry, too. The iShares Semiconductor (SOXX) exchange-traded fund is down 8% so far this year.
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Last week, Gelsinger posted a holiday/New Year’s video message on LinkedIn to brag about recent accomplishments. Wearing an ugly Christmas sweater with Intel’s logo on it, Gelsinger said the company’s new Alder Lake chips for PCs have thrust Intel back into a winning position in the chip world.
“All of a sudden, boom! We are back in the game,” he crowed. “AMD in the rear view mirror…and never again will they be in the windshield, we are just leading the market!” he crowed. Gelsinger spent 30 years at Intel as its first chief technology officer and later senior vice president and general manager before leaving in 2009 to take a job at EMC. (EMC has since merged with VMWare and is now owned by Dell (DELL).)

Intel playing catch up to Nvidia and AMD

AMD, under the leadership of CEO Lisa Su, has gained market share primarily in PC chips at the expense of Intel over the past five years. That’s one of the main reasons why AMD’s stock has soared more than 1,200% since January 2017. Intel’s, meanwhile, has gained just 45% while the iShares Semiconductor ETF has surged 300%.

Nvidia’s stock has also been a much better bet than Intel’s during the past five years, so much so that Nvidia’s market valuation of almost $635 billion is nearly three times Intel’s $219 billion.

And Nvidia has been a leading player, along with AMD, in graphics processing chips, a portion of the market that has grown rapidly thanks to gaming and cryptocurrency mining. Intel is now trying to play catch-up in the graphics chip market, and analysts see some hopeful signs for the company’s upcoming Arc family of processors.

New CEOs are benefiting from a long Wall Street honeymoon

Intel’s weak performance compared to AMD, Nvidia and the rest of the sector, is likely a key reason why former CEO Bob Swan stepped down last year to make way for Gelsinger’s return.

Intel now has more momentum. It recently hired a new chief financial officer from memory chip giant Micron (MU), a move that tech investors applauded.
Traders also liked the December announcement that Intel finally plans to spin off self driving tech unit Mobileye, which it bought in 2017 for $15 billion and is expected to go public with a valuation of about $50 billion.

Wall Street analysts are acknowledging the apparent change in the sector’s momentum, too. Piper Sandler’s Harsh Kumar downgraded AMD’s stock Thursday, citing growth concerns and increased competition throughout the chip sector.

And Susquehanna International Group analyst Chris Rolland wrote in a report Thursday that the Arc chips, which will be primarily used for PC gaming, “could heat up” competition with AMD and Nvidia.

“At the right price point,” Rolland noted, Intel may be able to quickly “obtain share in an otherwise supply-constrained market.”

Intel is likely to give investors an update on supply chain issues when it reports earnings for the fourth quarter on Wednesday.



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Bitcoin, ethereum prices tumble as cryptocurrencies continue their downward slide

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And it’s not just Bitcoin, as cryptocurrencies in general have had a dismal start to the year. Bitcoin has fallen over 8% in the last 24 hours, and was trading at $35,479 as of 9:30 am ET, according to CoinDesk. The world’s most valuable cryptocurrency has plummeted over 20% since the beginning of the year. In November it was trading at a record high of $68,990.
Its peers have fared worse. Ethereum, the world’s second most valuable cryptocurency, has fallen more than 12% in the last 24 hour, and was trading at around $2,400 as of mid-morning Saturday, according to CoinDesk. That’s an almost 30% drop since the start of the new year.
Investors are getting jittery about digital currencies and other riskier assets ever since the US Federal Reserve signaled it may unwind economic stimulus more aggressively than expected.
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Governments are cracking down as well. On Thursday, Reuters reported that Russia’s central bank has proposed a ban on crypto use and mining. Russia is one of the biggest crypto-mining nations in the world, but its central bank said that digital currencies can pose a threat to the country’s financial stability.
The Russian proposal comes just a few months after China launched a full-scale clampdown on cryptocurrency, banning both trading and mining.
Other countries are also flirting with a ban on crypto. In November, India said it was preparing to introduce a bill that would regulate digital currencies, although much is still unknown about that proposal. Earlier this week, India’s prime minister Narendra Modi said that global cooperation is needed to tackle problems posed by crytocurrencies.
However, not everyone is pessimistic. Goldman Sachs said that the price of bitcoin could reach more than $100,000 within the next five years. In a report published earlier this month, the bank’s analysts said they saw strong gains ahead because bitcoin would increasingly steal market share from gold.



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Top hedge fund manager warns that market ‘superbubble’ will burst

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Jeremy Grantham, co-founder and chief investment strategist of Grantham, Mayo, & van Otterloo (GMO) said in a report called “Let the Wild Rumpus Begin” that stocks are now in the midst of a “superbubble,” that it won’t end well.

Grantham, who has been running the firm’s investments since it was started in 1977, was similarly bearish at market tops in 2000, and during the Great Financial Crisis of 2008.

“Good luck! We’ll all need it,” said Grantham, whose firm manages about $65 billion in assets.

He noted that US stocks have experienced two such “superbubbles” before: 1929, a market fall that led to the Great Depression, and again in 2000, when the dot-com bubble burst. He also said the US housing market was a “superbubble” in 2006 and that the 1989 Japanese stock and housing markets were both “superbubbles.”
2022 hasn't been good for stocks. But the Biden market is still up 18%

“All five of these superbubbles corrected all the way back to trend with much greater and longer pain than average,” Grantham wrote.

Many investors don’t want to believe that the stock market is overdue for a broader pullback, Grantham argues, especially since the market fell into bear territory — albeit briefly — in March 2020 at the pandemic’s start.

“In a bubble, no one wants to hear the bear case. It is the worst kind of party-pooping,” Grantham wrote. “For bubbles, especially superbubbles where we are now, are often the most exhilarating financial experiences of a lifetime.”

Grantham believes that the Federal Reserve’s moves to cut rates to zero — and then keep them there for nearly two years — is a main cause for the market’s current frothiness. The Fed is widely expected to begin raising rates at its March meeting.

“One of the main reasons I deplore superbubbles — and resent the Fed and other financial authorities for allowing and facilitating them — is the under-recognized damage that bubbles cause as they deflate and mark down our wealth,” he wrote.

Jeremy Grantham, co-founder of hedge fund GMO, is warning that stocks could fall a lot further.

Grantham added that “as bubbles form, they give us a ludicrously overstated view of our real wealth, which encourages us to spend accordingly. Then, as bubbles break, they crush most of those dreams and accelerate the negative economic forces on the way down.”

“To allow bubbles, let alone help them along, is simply bad economic policy,” Grantham wrote, adding that he’s concerned about “the terrible increase in inequality that goes with higher prices of assets, which many simply do not own.”

This isn’t the first time Grantham has issued such a doom and gloom call on the markets. He made a similar proclamation about the end of the bull market in January 2021, calling stocks an “epic bubble.” The market wrapped up 2021 near record highs and with its third straight year of gains.

Rate hikes will deflate a lot of the market’s hot air

Other investing experts share some, but not all, of Grantham’s concerns. Jordan Kahn, president and chief investment officer of ACM Funds, which has a portfolio that both buys stocks and short sells ones that it thinks are overvalued, said there are definitely more opportunities on the short side of the market right now.

Kahn told CNN Business that his long-short fund is only invested about 30% in bullish positions that it expects to go up. He is also worried about what will happen to stocks as rates go up.

Bitcoin tumbles as cryptocurrencies continue their downward slide

“When rates are at zero for a long time, it’s easy to justify almost any valuation, and coming out of 2020 we saw ridiculous prices for stocks,” he said, something he hadn’t seen since 1999. “But as soon as inflation started people question valuations.”

Still, Kahn isn’t as bearish as Grantham. Rather than an epic crash, he foresees a series of what he calls “bubble-ettes,” mini manias in corners of the market such as crytpocurrencies and speculative, unprofitable tech stocks.

“There has been a lot of blind faith,” Kahn said. “There are areas where there has been a lot of speculation and there will be pain there.”



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