- The man who rammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters at the “Unite the Right” rally in 2017 has now been handed 29 life sentences by a federal judge.
- His attack killed a 32-year-old woman named Heather Heyer and injured more than two dozen others.
- He was also convicted at the state level for the attack last year and is scheduled to be sentenced on July 15, with a jury already recommending life in prison plus an additional 419 years.
The man who deliberately drove a car into a group of counterprotesters at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia nearly two years ago was sentenced to life in prison by a federal court on Friday.
The Ohio resident traveled to Virginia for the rally that took place on August 12, 2017. The event was organized by far-right white nationalist groups who were protesting the city’s plan to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. However, the gathering quickly turned violent as the groups clashed with counter-protestors.
The now 22-year-old carried out his attack by driving his Dodge Challenger into a crowd of counterprotesters. The attack killed 32- year-old Heather Heyer, a local law firm employee, and injured more than two dozen others.
He was indicted on several charges stemming from the attack in 2018 and agreed to plead guilty to 29 hate-crime charges earlier this year. As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors dropped a charge against him that carried a possible death sentence.
His lawyers still asked for leniency during sentencing, arguing that their client should not have to serve a life sentence because of his young age, history of mental illness, and troubling upbringing. The attorneys noted that he was raised by a paraplegic single mother and suffered trauma while living with the knowledge that his grandfather had murdered his grandmother before taking his own life.
However, the prosecution argued that a life sentence was warranted considering the severity of his crimes. In a sentencing memo, prosecutor Christopher R. Kavanaugh said: “This is particularly true in light of the fact that he has demonstrated that he feels no remorse for his actions and continues to espouse his hateful ideology.”
More than a dozen survivors and witnesses of the attack gave statements during the sentencing hearing. Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, also spoke and said she was hoping for a life sentence. She also added that she hopes her daughter’s killer “can heal someday and help others heal.”
Rosia Parker, who said she was standing just a few feet away from where Heyer was struck, said she was looking directly at the driver when it happened. Parker said in court, “You could have done anything else but what you did.”
“So, yeah, you deserve everything that you get.”
Ultimately Judge Michael Urbanski agreed with prosecutors and handed down 29 life sentences, one for each hate crime count. The judge made 27 of the sentences concurrent with one another while the remaining two terms were made consecutive to the others.
“Every day I think about how things could have gone differently, and how I regret my actions,” the man said in court. “I am sorry.”
More to Come
This won’t be the last sentencing hearing for the man. In 2018, he was convicted at the state level on counts of first-degree murder, aggravated malicious wounding, malicious wounding, and leaving the scene of a fatal crash.
In December, a Virginia jury recommended that he serve a life sentence plus an additional 419 years for his crimes. He is scheduled for sentencing in that case on July 15.
Editor’s Note: At Rogue Rocket, we make it a point to not include the names and pictures of mass murders or suspected and attempted mass murderers who may have been seeking attention or infamy. Therefore, we will not be linking to other sources, as they may contain these details.
Kathy Griffin, Ethan Klein, More Suspended From Twitter Over Elon Musk Impersonations
Many have pretended to be Musk in an attempt to highlight the potential issues paid-for verifications could cause on the platform.
Musk Takes on Impersonations
Comedian Kathy Griffin and internet personality Ethan Klein are among the many Twitter users that have been permanently suspended for impersonating the platform’s new CEO, Elon Musk.
Impersonation has long been against Twitter’s rules, but on Sunday, the billionaire took the policy a step further by announcing that “any Twitter handles engaging in impersonation without clearly specifying ‘parody’ will be permanently suspended.”
“Previously, we issued a warning before suspension, but now that we are rolling out widespread verification, there will be no warning,” Musk explained. “This will be clearly identified as a condition for signing up to Twitter Blue.”
Musk also said that any user who changes their name will temporarily lose their verification check mark.
The announcement came as many verified users began mocking Musk by changing their name and photo to match his, then tweeting jokes that were either absurd or out of character for the business mogul. Many did this to protest Musk’s plan to charge an $8 monthly subscription fee that would allow any Twitter user to become verified.
Klein was one of many who changed his name to “Elon Musk” and made a photo of the CEO his profile image. The podcast host sent out several jokes, including one referencing the increased use of the N-word on the platform since Musk’s takeover, and another referencing Jeffrey Epstein.
“Even though Jeffrey Epstein committed horrible crimes, I do still miss him on nights like this for his warmth and camaraderie. Rest In Peace old Friend,” he wrote.
His account was quickly banned, but Klein defended himself on TikTok, arguing that both his cover photo and bio labeled his account as “parody” and therefore should be acceptable under Musk’s guidelines.
“What more do you want from me?” he asked. “Comedy is dead. And Elon Musk dug the grave.”
Protests of Musk’s Twitter Control
For her part, Griffin likewise tweeted while masquerading as Musk, writing that after “spirited discussion with the females in my life, I’ve decided that voting blue for their choice is only right.”
Musk joked that she was actually “suspended for impersonating a comedian” and added that she can have her account back if she pays for the $8 subscription. Griffin, however, found another way around the ban.
The comedian logged into her late mother’s Twitter account and began using the hashtag #FreeKathy while calling out Musk.
“Mad Men” actor Rich Sommer and podcaster Griffin Newman have also had their accounts suspended for tweeting as Musk. Other celebrities, including TV producer Shonda Rhimes, musician Sara Bareilles, and model Gigi Hadid have protested Musk’s Twitter reign by leaving the platform altogether.
“For a long time, but especially with its new leadership, it’s becoming more and more of a cesspool of hate & bigotry, and it’s not a place I want to be a part of,” Hadid wrote on Instagram over the weekend.
AOC Says Twitter Notifications “Conveniently” Disabled After Criticizing Musk
“What’s good? Doesn’t seem very free speechy to me,” she tweeted at the new CEO.
AOC Vs. Elon Musk
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said several of her Twitter features are “conveniently not working” after feuding with the platform’s new owner, billionaire Elon Musk.
Ocasio-Cortez has never been shy about her views on Musk. After he officially took charge of Twitter last week, the congresswoman began criticizing his new proposals for the social networking site, specifically his plan to charge an $8 subscription fee for verification.
“Lmao at a billionaire earnestly trying to sell people on the idea that ‘free speech’ is actually a $8/mo subscription plan,” she wrote on Tuesday.
“Your feedback is appreciated, now pay $8,” Musk replied the following day.
Around an hour later, the business mogul sent another tweet appearing to call Ocasio-Cortez out for selling $58 sweatshirts.
“Proud of this and always will be,” she shot back. “My workers are union, make a living wage, have full healthcare, and aren’t subject to racist treatment in their workplaces. Items are made in USA. Team AOC honors and respects working people. You should try it sometime instead of union-busting.”
In a follow-up tweet, she noted that proceeds go to community organizing programs, including one that tutors students who are falling behind because of COVID-19.
AOC’s Mentions Not Working
On Wednesday evening, just hours after her back-and-forth with Musk, Ocasio-Cortez told her followers that her “Twitter mentions/notifications conveniently aren’t working tonight.”
“I was informed via text that I seem to have gotten under a certain billionaire’s skin,” she added. “Just a reminder that money will never [buy] your way out of insecurity, folks.”
The issue seemingly continued into Thursday morning when the Democrat tweeted a screenshot of her notifications page, which loaded no results.
“Why should people pay $8 just for their app to get bricked when they say something you don’t like?” she tweeted at Musk. “This is what my app has looked like ever since my tweet upset you yesterday. What’s good? Doesn’t seem very free speechy to me.”
Musk has repeatedly claimed that one of his primary motives to buy Twitter was to protect free speech. Once taking the reigns as CEO, though, he did say he would start a content moderation council and make decisions jointly with them.
South Carolina County Votes Against Moving LGBTQ+ Friendly Books Away from Children’s Section
Efforts to limit LGBTQ+ content in libraries first began over the summer.
Attempts to Restrict LGBTQ+ Displays
The county council in Greenville County, South Carolina this week voted against discussing a resolution that would move all books “promoting sexuality” to the adult section.
This resolution is the culmination of months of turmoil in Greenville County. In June, libraries in the county removed Pride displays at the direction of library officials. Then in September, the county’s Republican Party executive board passed a resolution to call on the County Council to restrict access to books with LGBTQ+ themes and characters.
The resolution was proposed by Joe Dill, an outgoing council member, as well as a member of the county’s Republican Party executive board. It proposed the council “officially order that no books or content, including digital copies or online accessible materials, promoting sexuality be allowed in the Children’s Sections of our public libraries.”
However, the resolution required the council to suspend its regular rules in order to discuss it as it was not submitted to the council via committee. The final vote was 9 to 3 against the suspension of the rules and effectively killed the resolution.
Those that voted against it viewed the resolution as an overreach.
“We just do not believe that’s our job to get involved in the library’s business,” Council member Ennis Fett said to a local news outlet. “We appoint a board. We can not set a precedent of micromanaging the library board, because if we do that, then, we will be micromanaging all boards and commissions that we appoint.”
Although the council decided not to get involved, the library still has the final decision to make regarding these books. Their meeting to discuss the matter is scheduled for December 5.