Charlottesville "supremacist" life sentence unjust; mayor and governor also at fault for d

Letters-to-the-Editor

Tampa Bay Times

"Supremacist who drove into crowd gets life sentence," June 29, 2019, Tampa Bay Times

August, 12, 2017, Charlottesville protestor killed, many injured. Photo taken by Ryan Kelly for The Daily Progress

Editor:

Letters-to-the-Editor

Tampa Bay Times

"Supremacist who drove into crowd gets life sentence," June 29, 2019, Tampa Bay Times

Editor:

The “Life sentence” given to the accused white supremacist, James Alex Fields, Jr., who was held responsible by a jury and a judge for the death of one woman, and injuries of many other counter demonstrators, in a 2017 Charlottesville protest, leaves one wondering what were prosecutors and the judge thinking? And how could America’s justice system turn a blind eye to so many questionable circumstances surrounding the young driver, his mental and emotional makeup, and the tragic event itself.

Alex Fields had a troubled childhood and a history of mental illness. Plus, a psychologist testified Fields was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 6 and later diagnosed with schizoid personality disorder.

Prosecutor, Thomas T. Cullen, the US Atttorney for the Western District, said that young Fields demonstrated no remorse and falsely labeled him a calculating, cold-blooded killer and terrorist.

The prosecutor also accused Fields of having a "long history of racist and anti-Semitic behavior." Fields’ high school teacher, Derek Weiner, said that when Fields was a freshman in high school, at age 14 or 15, he lauded neo-Nazi’s and Germans; which is common of youth at that age! How are prosecutors, or anyone in our society, able to say that young teenagers, in their formative years, are able to maturely assess situations and make mature judgments, especially if the individual has a mental illness?

Other questionable circumstances were that Mr. Fields also did not plow into the counter demonstrators, as reported, but drove his car into a chain of two other cars, which were pushed ahead into the crowd. There were no police present at the intersection, other than a wooden seahorse, and Fields, who was surrounded by counter-demonstrators, appeared to flee out of fear. Moments before the incident, a lone female resource officer was given permission by authorities to leave the intersection out of fear of the violence occurring around her.

And lastly, a former US Attorney for the Western District of Virginia, Timothy Heaphy, was contracted by the city of Charlottesville, to make an independent investigation of the tragic events. Heaphy concluded that the city’s mayor, Michael Signer, and the state of Virginia’s governor, Terry MacAuliffe, were responsible for a “combined failure of allowing the city and state police to perform their protective duties and to protect the rights of citizen protestors from physical harm and injury.”

A life sentence for Mr. Fields, holding one young mentally damaged individual responsible for all of the mayhem, is a grave injustice, and is an indelible scar on the fabric of America’s justice system, treatment of the mentally ill and on due process.

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