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Lawsuit: 'Violence in Charlottesville Was No Accident'

A new lawsuit against neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and white nationalist groups in the wake of violence in Charlottesville, Virginia claims the antagonists brought "semi-automatic weapons, pistols, mace, rods, armor, shields, and torches" to the city, with "the purpose of inciting violence and instilling fear within the community of Charlottesville and beyond."

The suit, filed on behalf of 11 people injured during the August clashes, charge 26 individuals and groups with negligence, conspiracy, harassment, infliction of emotional distress, and assault along with violations of the Ku Klux Klan Act and the Civil Rights Act. Here's a look:

Charlottesville Conspiracy

"In countless posts on their own websites and on social media," the lawsuit claims, "Defendants and their co-conspirators promised that there would be violence in Charlottesville, and violence there was." That violence led to multiple claims of threats, harassment, intimidation, and physical assault from counter-protestors, leading to severe physical injuries, extreme emotional distress, and even one plaintiff suffering a trauma-induced stroke.

According to the lawsuit, these injuries were not purely accidental, nor were they the result of random acts of violence from a few bad apples. "The violence, suffering, and emotional distress that occurred in Charlottesville was a direct, intended, and foreseeable result of Defendants' unlawful conspiracy," plaintiffs claim. "It was all according to plan -- a plan they spent months working out and whose implementation they actively oversaw as events unfolded on the ground."

Acts of Violence

That alleged plan gave rise to claims that the defendants violated the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871. The Act was intended to provide federal criminal and civil remedies for victims of conspiracies like those practiced by the KKK against African Americans and others. While the Supreme Court invalidated the criminal provisions of the Act in 1883, the civil remedies remain, allowing victims to sue if two or more persons "conspire or go in disguise on the highway or the premises of another, for the purpose of depriving ... any person or class of persons of the equal protection of the law."

Because they knew of the "anti-civil rights conspiracy," were in a position or had power to stop it, and either failed or refused to take any steps to stop the conspiracy, the suit also alleges violations of the Civil Rights Acts of 1866. The lawsuit includes a comprehensive list of the defendants, their roles, and their communications leading to, during, and after the Charlottesville violence, and is seeking damages for all plaintiffs as well as injunctions "enjoining Defendants from future violations of rights guaranteed by state and federal law."

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