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The man who police say drove a Dodge Challenger into a crowd of protesters Saturday amid white supremacist demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia, has been identified as 20-year-old James Fields Jr. The Ohio man was arrested Saturday, and has ties to the white supremacist alt-right.
The attack killed a 32-year-old woman and injured 19 others.
Fields was photographed Saturday participating in the white supremacist protests, clutching a homemade shield that brandished the logo of the Vanguard America hate group. According to the New York Daily News, the logo is common among hate groups, and it features two white axes.
Vanguard America’s homepage offers mission statements against homosexuality and immigration, striving to “take a stand” and advocate for a white majority in the U.S.
Vanguard America, via Twitter, says that Fields is not a member and that the shield he was holding was one of many “freely handed out to anyone in attendance.” On Twitter it did not shy away from being called a Nazi group. (“Call us whatever you want,” the group tweeted.)
In addition to homemade shields, the group wore khaki pants and button-down, light-colored shirts. As did Fields.
On his Facebook page, which the Daily News says went offline Saturday night around midnight ET, the Ohio man posted Pepe the Frog memes, and Nazi photos including one of Adolf Hitler. He also posed with the Dodge Challenger that authorities say plowed into protesters. His Facebook activity also suggests that he served in the U.S. military, though the army has not addressed whether he ever did.
Fields’ mom was unaware of the rally or her son’s ties to white nationalism. She did say that he told her it was an “alt-right” event, and thought it was connected to President Donald Trump, according to the Daily News.
Fields reportedly asked his mom to watch his cat while he was away.
Update 10:18am CT, Aug. 13: Fields has been charged in Charlottesville with second-degree murder.
Ramon Ramirez is the news director, and formerly the Dot's entertainment editor and evening editor. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, Grantland, Washington City Paper, Austin American-Statesman, and Austin Monitor.