New lawsuits aim to prevent more violence in Charlottesville

Two newly filed lawsuits against the white nationalists and others who descended on Charlottesville during a summer rally aim to prevent the type of violent chaos that unfolded from happening again.

One of the lawsuits was filed Thursday in Charlottesville Circuit Court on behalf of the city, local businesses and neighborhood associations. It accuses organizers of the August “Unite the Right” rally, leading figures in the white nationalist movement and their organizations, as well as private militia groups and their leaders, of violating Virginia law by organizing and acting as paramilitary units.

It doesn’t seek monetary damages but asks for a court order prohibiting “illegal paramilitary activity.”

“Touted as an opportunity to protest the removal of a controversial Confederate statue, the event quickly escalated well beyond such constitutionally protected expression,” the lawsuit says. “Instead, private military forces transformed an idyllic college town into a virtual combat zone.”

Separately, 11 residents injured in the violence filed a lawsuit overnight in federal court in Charlottesville against a number of rally leaders and attendees. News of that lawsuit was first reported by The Washington Post.

The rally drew hundreds of white nationalists to Charlottesville, as well as hundreds of counterprotesters. The two sides began brawling in the streets before the rally got underway, throwing punches, unleashing chemical sprays and setting off smoke bombs. At least one person fired a gun. Later, a woman was killed when a car drove into a crowd protesting the white nationalists.

The lawsuit filed in state court reconstructs the events of the day in detail, citing social media posts of the defendants, media accounts and documents.

It says the white nationalist organizations weren’t functioning as individuals exercising their Second Amendment right to self-defense but as members of a “fighting force.”

It asks that they be held in violation of several state laws, including…

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