It was Saturday afternoon when I became aware of the Charlottesville story, via tweets and Reddit. Unfortunately, like probably most people, my opinions were formed by a smattering of loosely-connected video clips showing a black muscle car plowing into people protesting a ‘white nationalist’ gathering. Because my attention at the time was focused on the North Korea developments and the now famous ‘Google memo’, my understanding of the situation was incomplete. I wasn’t aware that the protesters were antifa or that they were protesting the widely publicized ‘Unite the Right’ event– a huge gathering that attracted people form all over the country–not just some small-scale Klan or Nazi rally. It was a huge event that featured prominent alt-right personalities such as Richard Spencer and Pax Dickinson. Given the size of the event and all the groups that attended, it can be likened to the ‘Woodstock’ of white nationalism and identity–but like the 1969 Altamont Speedway Free Festival, which also ended in chaos and fatalities–it will probably be the last one for a long time.
James Fields’ defense hinges on him proving he acted in self-defense or that his car in some way malfunctioned. Any evidence of premeditation, such as a Facebook posting or a conversation expressing intent, will doom his case.
The reality is, based on current video footage, there is not enough evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt–either that he intentionally sped up with the deliberate intent to inflict harm, or that it was unintentional. James fields’ own personal history of Hitler idolatry and association with white nationalism doesn’t help him, but is irrelevant in this case.
Here is something to understand:
No video footage can be trusted. It’s impossible to draw a conclusion based on any public video footage.
It is a near certainty that all footage on the internet (or anywhere on the news) is either doctored and or incomplete. The media will edit footage to promote their ideological agendas. Make no mistake about it. To make Fields look innocent, they can slow the footage up until impact, in order to make it seem like it was snap decision, as if he was spooked or the brakes or the gas pedal malfunctioned. Conversely, to make him look guilty, the footage can be sped up so it seems like he is accelerating for a long distance in order to build momentum. Most footage only shows the car plowing into the protesters, omitting the footage afterwards of his car being swarmed by baseball bat wielding antifa as he was going in reverse. This lends credence to the defense because it shows there is a possibility he accelerated to escape harm, because his car was being attacked.
This reminds of of the Tryevon Martin case, in which the evidence against Zimmerman seemed persuasive, but that was because the audio footage (as disseminated by CNN and MSNBC) was edited to make Zimmerman seem like the aggressor. Only the jury got the full, unedited audio, which showed that the case against Zimmerman wasn’t as ‘cut and dry’ as the prevailing media narrative presented it to be.
When this goes to trial, the jury will get the full video and other data showing the acceleration, position, and surroundings of the car.