Two days before Thanksgiving, a civil jury in Charlottesville, Va., Found white supremacists responsible under state law for conspiring to hold a violent “Unite the Right” rally turned riot that resulted in left one woman dead and dozens injured in 2017.
It has been four long and painful years. And in many ways, we are more divided as a nation than we were on that fateful weekend when white nationalists, members of the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and white supremacists descended on the streets of idyllic Charlottesville to spit hatred.Along the way, they mutilated and killed.
Keep in mind that this was an event planned to protest the decision to remove a statue of white supremacist and Confederate General Robert E. Lee from the public square. They carried torches, stirring disturbing images of mob lynchings and past Ku Klux Klan gatherings. Their actions were intentional. They wanted to send a message.
And as hundreds of them marched through the streets, they chanted:
“You will not replace us.”
“One people, one nation, end immigration.”
“Blood and earth.”
“The lives of white people matter. “
“The Jews will not replace us.”
They were not songs on a monument. They weren’t there to challenge the removal of a statue. They were there to claim their America – their white,Christian America. They were there to proudly wear their racism on their sleeves.
And now they will pay.
Every penny of the more than $ 25 million the jury awarded in punitive damages to the counter-protesters who were injured sends a much needed signal in America: Racist and loathsome actions must be held accountable.
“This case has sent a clear message: Violent hatred will not go unanswered. There will be responsibilities,” said Amy Spitalnick, executive director of Integrity First for America, an organization that organized the civil trial.
Our country needed closure and healing. I couldn’t think of a better week to find it. And for that I am grateful.
National Columnist and Associate Opinion Editor Suzette Hackney is a member of the USA TODAY Editorial Board. Contact her at email@example.com or on Twitter: @suzyscribe