A team of local, state and federal law enforcement organizations that worked together to prosecute the man who drove his car into a crowd of people protesting the Unite the Right rally were honored by the Anti-Defamation League during the group’s 10th Annual awards ceremony last week.
The organizations received ADL SHIELD Awards, which the ADL bestows annually to recognize law enforcement for significant contributions toward protecting the American people from hate crimes, extremism and domestic or international terrorism.
James Alex Fields Jr., 22, was convicted in Charlottesville Circuit Court in 2018 on multiple charges, including the first-degree murder of Heather Heyer, and pleaded guilty in 2019 to 29 federal hate crime counts.
He was sentenced to 29 life sentences in the federal case, 28 of which are running concurrently.
The ADL recognized contributions from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia, the Department of Justice, Office of Civil Rights, the FBI, the Virginia State Police, the Charlottesville Police Department, the Albemarle County Police Department, the Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office and the University of Virginia Police Department.
“The awful events of August 12, 2017, including James Fields’ act of domestic terrorism, left an indelible mark on the local Charlottesville community, the commonwealth of Virginia and our country,” U.S. Attorney Thomas T. Cullen said in a news release. “Although we couldn’t bring Heather Heyer back or heal the permanent physical and psychological injuries suffered by dozens of others, we could seek meaningful justice for these victims, their families and the community and send a clear message that hate-inspired acts of violence, murder and terror will be met with the full and collective force of American law enforcement. I am very proud of our federal, state and local partners and grateful to the ADL for recognizing their extraordinary achievements.”