Before hundreds of neo-Nazis descended on Charlottesville, Virginia, for the "Unite the Right" rally in 2017, they gathered in person and on Discord, meticulously planning the deadly event, which has since been seared into American history.
On Discord, attendees coordinated rides, planned chants, discussed Virginia laws and talked about what gear to take. Leaders and planners of the rally answered questions, laid out its philosophy and told participants to be ready to die for the cause.
The chats, along with a mass of additional evidence, show that the violence on that August weekend was premeditated, attorneys for those injured and traumatized by the rally argue. On Monday, more than four years after the rally, the argument will be made in federal court, as attorneys for nine people injured on Aug. 11 and 12, 2017, seek financial compensation from about two dozen organizers in a massive civil lawsuit.
The case, the first major civil suit to be tried under the so-called Ku Klux Klan Act in years, could provide a model to hold those who incite right-wing extremist violence accountable, possibly changing the common understanding of who bears responsibility for violence.