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CNN Special Report: "White Power On Trial: Return To Charlottesville." Aired 9-10p ET

Aired December 05, 2021 - 21:00   ET





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Charlottesville, Virginia more than four years after white supremacists descended on the city, a civil trial against the organizers of the Unite the Right Rally, or to forget the images from that weekend white supremacist marching with torches chants and Jews will not replace us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Defendants hear some of them individuals white nationalist Neo Nazis, others are organizations designated as hate groups.

ELLE REEVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Men who made themselves white power brands, Richard Spencer, Chris Cantwell, Jeff Schoep, Matthew Heimbach, Matthew Parrott, and Jason Kessler spent a full month in federal court facing claims that they conspired to commit racially motivated violence.

They say they were just exercising their right to free speech and self-defense.

During the trial, some of the defendants sit down with me.

So why did you say that Charlottesville was a success?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Richard Spencer is here. This is our speaker for the night.

REEVE: Did you do it on purpose and do you feel bad about it?

RICHARD SPENCER, EX-LEADER OF ALT-RIGHT: It would have been better if they had me and shut the fuck up.

The alt-right and the alt- right, we're kind of fighting back.

REEVE: Did you plan to follow the law in Charlottesville?

Does the lawsuit pushing as a movement?

It is absolutely central to the propaganda strategy is to look like a victim.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The alt-right, you know, they've stopped their activism. But I think really they've worn out their usefulness because now their views are mainstream.

SPENCER: Looking back on Charlottesville, I think it's remarkable that it wasn't worse.

REEVE: It's very clear is highly organized activity like this is a big organized movement.

There are like maybe two dozen kids circled up around that statue, trying to show some community resistance to organizers.

SPENCER: I think I was pretty enthusiastic that night. I thought well, you know, things are really exciting. Everything's coming together and so on. Show us it was like the peak and end of the alt-right.

REEVE: This courthouse is the home of the federal civil trial Sines v. Kessler, it's against all the major organizers of the 2017 Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville. It's the biggest consequence most of these guys have faced and it's not a criminal trial. It's a civil one.

It's just like, no matter what the verdict is you have already won because Richard Spencer said was financially crippling, Heimbach has quit white supremacy at least officially says Jeff Schoep. They don't hold public rallies anymore. Whatever they might be doing behind the scenes, they're not able to get numbers in public. Some have said they've been bankrupted. What do you think about that?

ROBERTA KAPLAN, ATTORNEY FOR PLAINTIFF'S: People really need to understand that this is real, but it's out there. That it allows people from all over the country in the world to organize in ways that were previously impossible. And that's a real and present danger.

REEVE: Just minutes ago we saw the first participants in today's Unite the Right Rally arrive about 40 men and women in camouflage gear some with militia markings. Virginia is an open carry state.

TANESHA HUDSON, CHARLOTTESVILLE ACTIVIST: The amount of guns the type of guns I mean, we weren't just talking about baby 20 tubes and you know nine millimeter Glocks.


So everything about that was just, it was so frightening. I thought it was going to be a bloodbath.

JASON KESSLER, UNITE THE RIGHT ORGANIZER: This is a historic, historic victory for our people. And we're only going to grow bigger from here. We're moving out of the online space, which will already dominate and we're going to take over the real world.

REEVE: And supposedly here to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. But they're really here to show that they're more than an internet meme, that they're a big real presence that can organize in physical space.

So the alt-right is very organized. They have a lot of numbers. They have shields. They have protective gear like helmets. We've seen tear gas or water bottles extra.

HUDSON: People were literally getting stomped in the ground to the left hit with flags here. Maced over here. I've never ever seen anything like this. You know what I mean?

REEVE: It was so violent.

HUDSON: It was like a civil war happening.

REEVE: On a Saturday morning.

HUDSON: On a Saturday morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're following breaking news out of Virginia. The governor has declared a state of emergency in Charlottesville.

HUDSON: All day like I knew that something will happen but you couldn't pay me to believe that it would have been a car. I really would have thought it would have been something would have done.

REEVE: I don't know how many people are hurt but there are people on the ground being treated by the medics. There's were people running up the street screaming and crying. There's many people on the side injured too, so really horrific sound.

HUDSON: It was too unreal. That even I couldn't believe what I saw.

DONALD TRUMP, FMR. U.S. PRESIDNET: We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides, on many sides.

HUDSON: Of the chaos that you've seen today it's been brewing for quite some time and I don't think it's ever been about a statue. I think it's been about right is right and wrong is wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: James Fields Jr. likely spend the rest of his life in prison after being sentenced Tuesday in the Charlottesville car attack. Fields rammed his vehicle into a crowd of counter protesters last year to white supremacist rally, killing Heather Heyer. The jury returned a verdict of life plus 419 years after just four hours of deliberations. That same jury convicted Fields last week of first degree murder.

REEVE: So the internet gave these guys the ability to organize in a way they've never been able to before. But what that's turned into is evidence, because they left behind this enormous trail of receipts. And some of those memes are about running protesters ever with cars. And so what do you know two months later, James Alex Fields actually does it.

Why's the civil case instead of criminal case? AMY SPITALNICK, INTEGRITY FIRST FOR AMERICA: In 2017, Jeff Sessions was leading the Department of Justice. And it was very clear to many people that the DOJ at that time was not going to pursue civil rights work with the enthusiasm that it deserves. And so as private plaintiffs, what our plaintiffs can bring is a civil lawsuit. And that's what they did using the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, which is 150 year old statute intended to protect against the sort of racially motivated violent conspiracies we saw here four years ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the nine plaintiffs is Liz Sines, who says Fields's car almost hit her.

ELIZABETH SINES, CHARLOTTESVILLE PLAINTIFF: I will never forget watching them attack my fellow students or the feeling of running from my life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Another plaintiff is Natalie Romero. The lawsuit says she was hit by Fields's car, causing a skull fracture and a concussion. Thomas Baker said he thought he would die and still has hip pain. And Marcus Martin seen here in midair, who said his leg was broken and he couldn't work for nine months.


MARCUS MARTIN, CHARLOTTESVILLE PLAINTIFF: Is just a lot of pain, there's a kit to cope with.

REEVE: What makes this case so interesting is that it brings the concept of incitement into the internet age. Saying that, like an entire group of people should be expelled from the country or killed sooner or later, is not just another political opinion to be debated like marginal tax rates. It's just violence, incitement harassment.


SPENCER: America, at the end of the day belongs to white men. Trump hail, hail our people, hail victory.

REEVE: In 2017, Richard Spencer was at the height of his power as leader of the alt-right. But since Charlottesville, the alt-right has been crushed and what remains of it hate Spencer. We've interviewed him a couple times since he's been back in Charlottesville for the lawsuit, always in a different location because he was initially too scared to stay too close to town.

SPENCER: Do you understand like piling on someone when they're facing a lawsuit is probably --

REEVE: Well, I would dispute the characterization of filing. I mean, what you don't want me to ask you about is like the most interesting thing.


REEVE: Like, did you do it on purpose and do you feel bad about it?


SPENCER: Are you talking about Charlottesville or some others that day?

REEVE: Yes, and the whole thing, the whole movement itself. Did you do it on purpose or did you not care?

SPENCER: I did not create the movement itself.

REEVE: You named it. You became the face of it.

SPENCER: I was trying to unite everything where it would be simply me. And it would have been better if they had fucking bent to the knee and shut the fuck up.


The whole 2016-2017 experience was quite something was it? I was making headlines every week. Trump was also reaching people online. And the alt-right became a kind of advertising wing. And the alt rights anonymous. I am not anonymous, if I dare say so. I think I'm interesting.

REEVE: You mean you were a symbol of like a broader movement that didn't have a face?

SPENCER: Exactly. Yes. And people could kind of freak out and love to hate me and maybe hate to love me.

There was the punch of Richard Spencer in 2017. So that's kind of like political violence it's back baby and Antifa is real. And then it was almost like the alt-right and the alt-right, we're kind of fighting back and see you like Nathan' Damigo punch that Goldilocks or whatever.

I feel like I was attached to all these people that want to come hang out in the alt-right. And yes, I mean, I just I was too old. I was slumming. I don't know.

REEVE: Did you think there'd be any consequences to your slumming?

SPENCER: To my slumming with those guys?

REEVE: It's your word.

SPENCER: Did I predict this kind of lawfare or whatever? No.

REEVE: What about the violence?

SPENCER: I feared that there was going to be some kind of violence at a lot of those rallies that was becoming present. I think I underestimated and I think I underestimated about a lot of people. I think a lot of people wanted to be me. One of the big things the alt- right was, I want to be Spencer, I want to be in the headlines. It created a tremendous amount of jealousy.

REEVE: So you knew you would attract attention if you went to this rally?

SPENCER: To Charlottesville? Well, yes, and I wanted attention. Yes. It was just kind of -- it was almost like a concert or something.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Richard Spencer is here. This is our speaker for the night. This is why we're here, everybody.

REEVE: Did you plan to follow the law in Charlottesville?

SPENCER: I did follow the law. I don't know what to say. Did I plan to follow the law? What do you mean?

If you're willing to be arrested, you're going to get arrested.


SPENCER: We have a permit for this. We are staying 100 percent. There's no way I'm leaving.

REEVE: A few days before the rally, before your permit for the park was reinstated, you told me that if it wasn't reinstated, you guys would march to the park anyway and try to get arrested.

SPENCER: I don't remember saying that. But what's your point?

REEVE: That one, you were planning the rally, the spectacle. And two, you're planning to disobey the city orders.

SPENCER: I was planning Charlottesville because of that thing that I told you?

REEVE: You are certainly planning part of it.

SPENCER: Ellie, this is just nonsense. It's like you're trying to press me, impress me, impress me until I say something like yes, I did. Charlottesville. We won in the violence. Yes, that's what it was all about. Because I'm a sick freak. Like give me a break, Ellie.

We're going to f fucking ritualistically humiliate them. I am coming back here every fucking weekend if I have to. Like this is never over. I win. They fucking lose, That's how the world fucking words. Little fucking kikes. They get ruled by people like me. Little fucking octoroons. My fucking ancestors, fucking enslaved those pieces of fucking shit. I rule the fucking world. Those pieces of shit get ruled by people like me. They look up and see a face like mine looking down at them.

I'll probably never live down this rant from that day of I rule the fucking world and whatever.

REEVE: Yes, people like you look up their faces like me.

SPENCER: Yes, we know what I'm talking about. OK. I felt like at that moment, everything was kind of closing in. After Charlottesville when in the way it went, there was no way to transfigure this movement. I mean, on some level this movement was about like for Chan (ph) people in computer programmers and basement dwellers and in cells and whatever, but it was like there was this energy and opportunity around Trump where it can be transformed in something that I want


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is what happened when you really truly unite the right.

SPENCER: At the end of the day, unite the right means putting a need next to like, as in the door. It was just disgusting and gross me should just be I hate. I don't like ugly, stupid freaks. It should have always just simply been about Richard Spencer.

I looked back on all of it. And I kind of cringe a little bit. There was maybe some good aspects of it. But a lot of things I regret. Looking back on Charlottesville, I think it's remarkable that it wasn't worse in terms of casualties, to be honest.

REEVE: So what exactly do you regret?

SPENCER: Oh, it's a big question. The problem is we don't have time machines. And talking about them is just kind of speculative right now.

REEVE: You can't name one thing you regret?

SPENCER: Well, what could I have done that could have say, like, I guess you could say that I -- not only would I have not agreed to go to Charlottesville, but I would have tried to just stop Charlottesville, and then Heather Heyer would be alive today. Outside of that of shutting down the whole thing, and which is probably something that I could not have actually done.

REEVE: You said you had many regrets. Can you name one of them?

SPENCER: Yes. I regret. I ultimately regret being a part of that whole crowd. All that juvenile ironic Nazi humor it's just so over. And I cringe when I even think about it now.

REEVE: I think I've said this a couple of times, but you have said you have regrets. But every time I ask you to explain those regrets --

SPENCER: I have explained them.

REEVE: -- it's framed in terms of I was hanging out.

SPENCER: I made those decisions, Ellie.

REEVE: With losers.

SPENCER: I made those decisions.

REEVE: You're like, I let myself get dragged down by this filth. But those were your people. Those were you guys.

SPENCER: So would you like me to go -- REEVE: Why don't you take responsibility for them?

SPENCER: I have.

REEVE: If they wanted to be you, and they went into the street and beat people up, what does that say to you?

SPENCER: Well, you seem to just want to -- your entire point here is just to prove that I'm like a piece of shit and why don't you just accept it? I mean, look, Ellie, I don't -- I'm not here to be insulted. Maybe when someone's actually honest and expresses a regret, you should probably allow them to do that as opposed to jumping on their fucking back. You know?

REEVE: Do you regret injecting such explicit intense racism into the American politics?

SPENCER: I did not inject that in there. If anything I injected a kind of ideology that could, you know, articulate something that's already there.



MATTHEW HEIMBACH, WHITE POWER LEADER: I'm inviting all nationalists and patriots to join us on August 12, in Charlottesville, Virginia, to take a stand not just for our Confederate monuments, but for our European identity.

JEFF SCHOEP, FMR. LEADER NATIONAL SOCIALIST MOVEMENT: I thought it was pretty incredible with all the people that showed up. I thought this was the -- that was the biggest rally I'd ever been.

I was involved in white nationalism for 27 years 25 of those years I was the national leader of the National Socialist Movement.

It is not about the uniform you wear, the colors you fly, it is about the color of our skin.

REEVE: And why do you leave?

SCHOEP: I left the movement because I didn't believe in it anymore.

REEVE: To the lawsuit push out of movement?

SCHOEP: No. I don't think anybody changes their whole entire life because they've been sued.

REEVE: Well, one of the interesting things about the alt-right was that it was trying to appear like upper class. I was wondering if that was a contrast to what had been your experience.

SCHOEP: The alt-right is very fluid. It's changing all the time. It's -- and I don't just mean like, oh, edgy memes and Fashi haircuts and that sort of thing. Different people on the alt-right looked down upon the working class. And that was very different than the movement like especially in the 90s.

REEVE: And did those more moderate groups want to use like, the more hard right groups is like the muscle?

SCHOEP: The hard right groups, especially a group like the NSM, we were in the streets all those years when there was nobody in the streets. The alt-right probably would have liked to control the hard right groups and use them as muscle. This is, you know, we're the elites and we're going to control everything from the alt-right perspective. And the hard right groups will protect us.

REEVE: I've been covering the White Power movement since 2015. When people think of racist and think of skinheads and boots and they beat people up, but this new breed of racist was like nerds on the internet, people who were very smart and tech savvy, who were able to act anonymously, but as like a hive mind.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just a damn heart. Just a damn heart. Stand up.

REEVE: Why did you say that Charlottesville was a success afterwards?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because the most important thing was raising awareness about the issues.

REEVE: But you didn't even get to give a single speech. It was cancelled before it began.

HEIMBACH: Right, but part of the national conversation about the importance of maintaining historical monuments that did happen.

REEVE: Everyone paid attention to it because someone got murdered.


HEIMBACH: The nationalist community defended ourselves against thugs in a battle that was brought by this city that wanted a bloodbath.

REEVE: So, you had to testify in court today that you guys wore black uniforms, in part because it concealed blood.

RICHARD SPENCER, EX-LEADER OF ALT-RIGHT: It's actually a good reason. It's that, you know, number one, that doesn't really -- if you're wearing a white polo shirt, it's all black. It's just, you know --

REEVE: It's just not how I usually plan my outfits.

HEIMBACH: Well, you aren't usually attacked by hordes of armed anti- fascists who tried to kill you.

SPENCER: You weren't doing racial justice advocacy on the ground.

REEVE: Matt Heimbach is represented by Josh Smith. Smith is a Holocaust denier despite being raised Jewish himself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Another deposition that was played there was a man posting with the discord username Tyrone in the discord chat server used to plan "Unite the Right" his real name was Michael Chesney. So, he was

questioned at length about his posts.

REEVE: You met multiple times with the guy who goes by Tyrone, Michael Chesney, who hosted repeatedly about running protesters over with cars literally saying I'm not shitposting isn't joking. I'm really asking is it legal to run protesters over with car?

HEIMBACH: Yeah, I don't like Michael Chesney.

REEVE: Well, you met him multiple times?

HEIMBACH: Yeah, I still don't like Michael Chesney.

REEVE: Did you just like him enough to say, hey, don't talk like that some idiot, kids going to take you seriously?

HEIMBACH: The media is fixated on trying to find the idea that young men making jokes that are really a middle finger to folks like yourself that are so over the top.

REEVE: Of course, you can be that, but you can also mean it.

And when did you become anti-Semitic?

JOSH SMITH, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Let's see. So, I'm 40 now, so 34.


SMITH: Not that long ago. Comparatively to my life. I had already been like conservative, right? But my exposure to people on Twitter though, we're making a lot of sense. There was a meme actually. This one says, it's impossible to round up 11 million people and ship them somewhere you stupid conservative, right? And this guy says why are you denying the holocaust?

It's very easy to sell this story to people if you can sell it to them on pure emotion and they're not going to stop and think about it.

REEVE: How does your family feel about you going so far?

SMITH: I don't talk about politics with my parents at all.

REEVE: But a holocaust isn't like politics.

SMITH: They can't talk about that kind of stuff. People have a blind spot for Jews especially have a blind spot for it.

REEVE: Are you both still on Twitter?



REEVE: What? PARROTT: Yes. You can't stop me.

REEVE: Heimbach created a group called Traditionalist Worker Party with his buddy Matt Parrott, he's another defendant in this case. Heimbach was a public face, will pair it with the tech guy behind the scenes.

PARROTT: I've been kicked off Twitter I think three times now, maybe four. I come back each time as a as a middle-aged black businesswoman. If you just come back and you immediately friend a bunch of white nationalists?

SMITH: Right.

PARROTT: They're on to that.

SMITH: They know. Right, yeah.

PARROTT: The algorithm checks that but if I'm like talking to other middle aged black women, the algorithm can't figure that out. And you're constantly playing a game of chicken with increasingly sophisticated and intrusive algorithms trying to stop us.

SMITH: That itself is hilarious.

PARROTT: Yeah, it's a game, you know.



REEVE: What do you think this means for the next outright protest?

CHRISTOPHER CANTWELL, WHITE SUPREMACIST DEFENDANT: I say it's going to be really tough to top but we're up to the challenge.



REEVE: Tough to top? I mean, someone died.

CANTWELL: I think that a lot more people are going to die before we're done here, frankly.


CANTWELL: Why? Because people die every day, right? I mean, do you --

REEVE: Not like of a heart attack? I mean, violent death?

CANTWELL: Well, people die violent deaths all the time, right? Like this is part of the reason that we want an ethnos state, right? So, like the black sheep killing each other in staggering numbers from coast to coast, we don't really want to have a part of that anymore. And so, the fact that they resist us when we say hey, we want a homeland, is not shocking to me. All right. These people want violence, and the right is just meeting market demand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just a short time ago, one of the most notorious defendants white supremacist Christopher Cantwell finished delivering his closing arguments. He's representing himself. He argued that he never planned to commit violence that weekend and did not want violence.

The plaintiff's attorneys, they showed text messages from Cantwell. "I'm willing to risk a lot for our cause, including violence and incarceration."

REEVE: Before Charlotte's about the organizers told me that part of their propaganda strategy was to look like their ideas were so powerful and so dangerous that the state had to violently suppress it. So, they wanted to go out there and get arrested, provoke counter protesters into fighting them because it made them look like the victims. It was absolutely central to the propaganda strategy. It's to look like a victim.

I asked Cantwell about it. I asked Spencer about it, they all said they want to show that their ideas are being violently repressed.

This is Cantwell at this scene messing someone. Cantwell was bragging about this on his own website.

CANTWELL: Police are nowhere to be found.

I do not want violence with you. All right, I'm terrified. I'm afraid you're going to kill me. I really am, all right, so.

REEVE: Cantwell found out that there was a warrant out for his arrest. And so, he freaked out. He's in a hotel and he posted this crazy video on Facebook.

CANTWELL: We have used every peaceful and lawful means by which to redress our grievances.

REEVE: After that he's known as the crying Nazi on the Internet. In July 2018, Cantwell pled guilty to two misdemeanor counts of assault and battery for pepper spraying people at the torch March.

EMILY GORCENSKI, COUNTER-PROTESTER, ASSAULTED BY CHRISTOPHER CANTWELL: He kind of lost it when I press charges against him for pepper spray me on August 11. Since then, he has maintained this obsession that that I am like this. National leader of Antifa, which is an absurd allegation. And in this case, he has filed like hundreds of pages of documents about me even though I'm not a party, and rather than just admitting that he did something wrong and saying sorry, he's going to bury himself by -- through this obsession.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A man from Kane has now been sentenced to 41 months in prison.

REEVE: Cantwell is in prison because he was convicted of extortion in September 2020. He was being harassed by this white supremacist group that called itself Bowl Patrol because they're fans of Dylann Roof who murdered nine people out of black church in Charleston in 2015. And he had a bowl haircut. So, Cantwell told one member of bowl patrol, if you don't give me information on a third member, then I'm going to rape your wife in front of your kids.

Well, a pretty dramatic moment at trial is when Chris Cantwell, a racist podcaster was forced to sit there and listen to his own words. These guys were talking about how that Dylann Roof was a loser. So just the type of person that you would want to commit mass murder.

CANTWELL: Some of us got to be (inaudible) cannon fodder for the race war.

REEVE: This is the jail where Cantwell is staying, somewhere inside there is Chris Cantwell on a black and white stripe suit. Cantwell call me a couple times from prison.

Hey, Chris, how are you doing?

CANTWELL: Doing fantastic, thank you so much for asking. If you heard anybody testified that we did this because we have a problem with racial minorities? No, we were like, we prepared to defend ourselves against the violent communist revolutionaries who call themselves Antifa.

GORCENSKI: People like Chris Cantwell need to have this victim mentality because it is core to their politics. It's core to this sort of white grievance that they need to be the saviors of the white race and that they're under attack.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are we supposed to do? OK, Supreme Court's not helping us. No one's helping us. Only us can help us. Only we can do it.

REEVE: A mass group of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol to stop the certification of what they believe was a fraudulent election.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: CNN's Elle Reeve, you know, extensively covered the 2017 rally in Charlottesville. She was in the crowd this go round there on the Capitol.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Taking our freedoms, locking us down and turning this country into a plastic socialist republic. And that is not right. That's what I'm doing here.

REEVE: People think that Donald Trump plus the Internet has brought out more extremists, but actually, it's an inversion of that. Donald Trump plus the internet has brought extremism to the masses, to much more common people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, there's a bunch of really, really pissed off, regular folks, I got a job. This is Wednesday. I'm supposed to be at work. Yeah, sssh.

REEVE: One important comparison with "Unite the Right" is that it was taking an online movement into the real world. You were largely anonymous to each other online. And then once they got together, there was so much energy that came from that, you know, it gave them this feeling that they could do the things that they had joked about online in real life. I do think that energy of finally meeting your online friends, plus the freedom of being anonymous, it allowed people to set aside their morals, their pride to do horrible things.

ROBERT "AZZMADOR"RAY, DEFENDANT: I believe as you can see, we are stepping off the internet in a big way. For instance, last night at the torch walk, there were hundreds and hundreds of us. People realize they are not atomized individuals they are part of a larger hole. Because we have been spreading our memes, we have been organizing on the internet. And so now they're coming out. And now as you can see today, we greatly outnumbered the anti-white, anti-American filth. And at some point, we will have enough power that we will clear them from the streets forever, that which is degenerate, in white countries will be removed.

REEVE: So, you're saying showing up in physical space helped -- lets people know that like, they're more like them?

RAY: We're starting to slowly, unveil a little bit of our power level, you ain't seen nothing yet.

AMY SPITALNICK, INTEGRITY FIRST FOR AMERICA: There's a straight line that goes from Unite the Right to January 6, because of the lack of accountability that has generally existed for these extremists who have become more emboldened, more normalized, and in some ways more empowered over the last few years.

REEVE: When those people started storming the Capitol in January six, having been in Charlottesville, like what did you think when you watched it unfold?

TANESHA HUDSON, CHARLOTTESVILLE ACTIVIST: We told you so. I mean, I can't begin to tell you, it's like you believe us now. This is what they did to us. They invaded us. When I saw that insurrection, it just made me feel like oh, wow, look at this. When he said that there was good people on both sides, some of y'all believed him. But now that it happened at the Capitol is, oh, my goodness, they need to go to jail. Well, we told you they needed to go to jail here. And they didn't go to jail.

Charlottesville could have did the right thing and made such a big statement. And they did it. Charlottesville filled us and then after Charlottesville filled us, our president failed us.

GORCENSKI: The alt-right movement was always a patsy. I think that the alt-right was used to set a new standard for what was acceptable in America. And as soon as Donald Trump said both sides that anchored to the new standard. Now, this is just business as usual. So, I think that that the alt-right, you know, they've stopped their activism. But I think really, they've worn out their usefulness because now their visions, their views are mainstream.

SPENCER: Now the alt-right, not only is it kind of irrelevant and in, you know, splintering in the den fighting or something, it doesn't in a way need to exist or make sense. There's just too Trump Republican conservative movement. You're not -- there's no alt that's necessary.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This just in the federal jury has reached a verdict on some of the claims but remains deadlocked on others.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This verdict constitutes nothing short of a devastating financial bloat. Now while the jury was not able to reach a verdict on two key federal claims of conspiracy to commit racially motivated violence, they still found the defendants the white supremacist liable for four other claims and assessed more than $26 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

Among them, finding five defendants were liable for racial, religious or ethnic harassment or violence under a Virginia state law, and that all the defendants participated in a conspiracy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This verdict today is a message that this country does not tolerate violence based on racial and religious hatred in any form.

REEVE: So, the jury found that all of the groups were part of the conspiracy, even if they didn't have a piece of every single thing that happened, and I think it sets an important precedent. If the leaders are out there, glamourizing violence as Richard Spencer did, planning for violence as Jason Kessler did then when their followers come to their events, and participate in the violence, the leaders can be held responsible. I think it's a sobering lesson to any organizer and extremist politics.


HUDSON: I'm a little bit shocked. I think we've been just so upset with the American justice system at this point, being a person of color, that I just didn't expect the outcome that happened. Am I happy for it? Absolutely. I think we have to definitely put out a message that you cannot come here, and you can't do that.

REEVE: Building up to Charlottesville, there was this like, increasing amounts of like street fights and the like, mainstream opinion is like, well, that's free speech. It's just another political opinion. And then Charlottesville happened. And it's like, oh, no, it's not just another political opinion, like this is actually just about violence.

HUDSON: I think it took the events that happened in Washington.

REEVE: Yeah. HUDSON: I think if the insurrection would have never happened, we wouldn't have a victory in Charlottesville. I'm a firm believer in free speech. I'm all for First Amendment. However, you know, free speech definitely ends and shuts down when violence first occurred.

REEVE: The backlash from Charlottesville crushed like the alt-right, like those specific groups in the white power movement, but it didn't crash white power itself.

HUDSON: The right decision was made, but we have so much work to do on the ground, just in our local government, our state government and our federal government.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of the defendants in the case are destitute, none of them have any money.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going to try to reduce some of the damages?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, so we just have to make a motion to have that reduced.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's also a lot of talk this morning about whether any of this money, right, will actually be see.

REEVE: The punitive damages were really high. And the Supreme Court has said that that ratio has to be a lot smaller. So, it's possible that the judge will lower the damages on that claim.

MATT PARROTT, WHITE NATIONALIST: It doesn't take much to bankrupt the person like me.

REEVE: What do you going to do now?

PARROTT: Somebody of my means, I don't have $500,000 for the plaintiffs, even if I would like to so I suppose there'll be some kind of wage garnishment or something, and I'll get on with my life.

HEIMBACH: I did lose my job last week, which was fun.

REEVE: Where were you working? And then what happened?

HEIMBACH: I was enjoying working under the Golden Arches.

REEVE: But did any of your co-workers at McDonald's say like, wow, Matt, I didn't know you'd been a professional racist.

HEIMBACH: The modern equivalent of being a witch is being a white nationalist or having been formally affiliated with a movement.

REEVE: But you've left white nationalism, right?

HEIMBACH: I have. Yeah, there's no expiration date for how long your life will be ruined.

REEVE: So, what happens if you lose this lawsuit? SPENCER: Well, what immediately happens is I would appeal and if you don't appeal depends on what the actual judgement amount is. And I don't know, maybe a life of bankruptcy.

REEVE: Do you have money?

SPENCER: I don't have much money personally. But I'll be OK. I'm not scared. They can do whatever they want. It's not going to change my life or my lifestyle, so yeah.

REEVE: Citizens thing I never even looked up at the statue that whole day.

HUDSON: This is what started it all was the Lee statue, the mayhem. This is what wreaked havoc in Charlottesville, the Robert E. Lee's statue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The notorious statue of General Robert E. Lee, which overlooked the park that held the deadly unite the right rally, hoisted away the end of a long and bloody battle for one city grappling with how to tell our nation story.

SPENCER: A part of me, I'm glad he's gone. But then a part of me, I'm like the issue is bigger than the statute.

REEVE: Yeah.

HUDSON: Because you can remove all the statutes in the world. But if the system still stay the same, then we know that it does stand against black folks. I'm glad he's gone off his horse. I'm glad he's not sitting on his little high horse anymore, because we weren't at the table when they created this stuff. But even if you still have people that believe in those systems, that's what led us to being where we were August as well.