The Department of Justice (DOJ) has launched a civil rights investigation into the violence at the Charlottesville white nationalist rally in Virginia.
Following confirmation that a car plowed through a group of antifa protesters on Saturday leaving one dead and 19 injured, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a statement announcing the department was opening a federal investigation.
“The violence and deaths in Charlottesville strike at the heart of American law and justice,” Sessions said.
“When such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated. I have talked with FBI Director Chris Wray, FBI agents on the scene, and law enforcement officials for the state of Virginia. The FBI has been supporting state and local authorities throughout the day. U.S. Attorney Rick Mountcastle has commenced a federal investigation and will have the full support of the Department of Justice. Justice will prevail.”
The FBI’s Richmond Field Office is also joining the investigation into the “deadly vehicular incident”
The driver of the vehicle, 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. from Ohio, is being held on murder charges, but it’s unclear whether authorities will deem the incident a terror attack.
National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster declared Sunday morning that the incident was definitely an act of terror.
“Certainly I think we can confidently call it a form of terrorism,” McMaster said on NBC’s “Meet The Press.”
“What terrorism is, is the use of violence to incite terror and fear, and of course it was terrorism,” he said.
Appearing on another Sunday morning show, CIA Director Mike Pompeo held back on offering an assessment of the car incident and said the responsibility for making that determination lies with the DOJ.
“I think it’s best for CIA Director to leave this to the Justice Department,” Pompeo said on CBS’ “Face The Nation.”
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