People are being arrested for carrying tiki torches in Charlottesville “with the intent to intimidate” nearly six years after the march happened.
A Virginia grand jury has charged at least three people with “burning an object with the intent of intimidating a person or group of people,” which carries up to five years in prison.
The march took place on August 11, 2017, and was a major talking point for Joe Biden, who frequently used the rally to condemn former President Donald Trump and his supporters during his campaign.
So far, William Zachary Smith, of Nacona, Texas; Tyler Bradley Dykes, of Bluffton, South Carolina; and Dallas Medina, of Ravenna, Ohio, have been indicted. Commonwealth’s Attorney James Hingeley has been tight-lipped about if more indictments exist.
In addition to the charge of burning an object with the intent to intimidate, Smith has also been charged for using pepperspray during the clash between the marchers and protesters — which carries an additional maximum of 20 years in prison.
According to a report from CNN, “Medina was arrested on Monday, according to court records, but is not currently in custody. Dykes, who was arrested on Friday, and Smith, who was arrested in early January, are both in custody.”
Hingeley had campaigned on prosecuting the marchers after his predecessor declined to do so.
“There are so many people in our community … who were there on August 11 who were terrorized by torch-wielding terrorists,” Hingeley said on the campaign trail in 2019. “There’s a law, a burning objects law, that says they can be prosecuted but our prosecutor’s not doing that.”
The three men were indicted in February, but their court records were just unsealed recently. They have not yet entered their pleas.
NBC News reports that prosecutors said the indictments were issued “as part of a criminal investigation that is active and ongoing” and that they are working with law enforcement to “investigate, analyze applicable laws, and bring charges” when “appropriate.”
“This is our process regardless of how much time has passed or where the alleged offenders may be found,” they said.
The low-level felony charges have no statute of limitations.
James Alex Fields Jr. is serving a life sentence plus 419 years and $480,000 in fines for driving into a crowd of protesters, leading to the death of protester Heather Heyer after the rally the next day. His attorney had argued that he acted in self-defense.
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