Following the August riot that erupted in Charlottesville after a white supremacist rally, the wheels of justice have slowly turned. While James Fields Jr. was quickly charged with murdering Heather Hayer, many of the other violent incidents remain unresolved. While the organizers of the Unite the Right Rally and several of the white supremacist groups that attended have been sued by the city of Charlottesville, the first guilty verdicts from the event are now trickling in.
Three white supremacists were found guilty Friday for failure to disperse, a misdemeanor charge, after the police declared the event an unlawful assembly. The three were represented by Elmer Woodard, the attorney representing Christopher Cantwell who faces several felony charges for his actions at the same rally. According to The Daily Beast,
Woodard, with his white, Ebeneezer Scrooge-styled mutton chop whiskers, appeared before Judge Robert Downer while wearing a white late 1800’s-style waistcoat with a black collar. As he entered the courtroom, he removed a straw boater hat with a dashing red hatband.
The defendants included Nathan Benjamin Damigo, founder of the white-nationalist party Identity Evropa; Evan McLaren, executive director of Richard Spencer’s National Policy Institute; and John Paul Struys.
Woodard presented a novel defense for his clients: the order to disperse was unlawfully given because there had simply not been enough violent acts to occur to fit the legal definition of a riot (a police witness testified to seeing enough incidents to satisfy the judge, it appears). Woodard also called for other white supremacists facing felony charges to testify, a bold defense strategy.
The three were each fined and released. Woodard said he will appeal the ruling in the state Circuit Court in December.