Charlottesville suspect held hate group shield before attack


A maniac driver brandished a shield emblazoned with a white supremacist emblem before plowing his beloved Dodge Challenger into a crowd protesting his rally in Virginia.


A Daily News photographer captured James Fields, 20, among the front lines of a volatile rally about 10:30 a.m. Saturday in Charlottesville, just two hours before the fatal crash.


Like those alongside Fields, he was clutching the racially-charged insignia on a wooden black and white shield while wearing a white polo and khaki slacks, a uniform associated with hate Vanguard America, a hate group.


Southern Poverty Law Center spokeswoman Rebecca Sturtevant told The News the logo — two white axes — is a variation of imagery also used by the white supremacists.


Photos show Fields was standing with similarly dressed members of Vanguard America during Saturday’s clash.


The Anti-Defamation League depicted the hate group as one focused on white identity but noted that its members have “increasingly demonstrated a neo-Nazi ideology.” 

James Alex Fields Jr., 20.

James Alex Fields Jr., 20.

(Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail)


As the protest images surfaces, the hate group tried distancing itself from Fields and said anyone who attended the rally could use a shield.


“The driver of the vehicle that hit counter protesters today was, in no way, a member of Vanguard America. All our members had been safely evacuated by the time of the incident,” the group said in a tweeted statement. “The shields seen do not denote membership, nor does the white shirt. The shields were freely handed out to anyone in attendance.”


“All our members are safe and accounted for, with no arrests or charges,” the group added.


The photo was taken just before he got behind the wheel of his sports car and mowed down dozens of counter protesters.


Fields peppered his Facebook page with similar imagery.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1136294829729773&set=ecnf.100000477990126&type=3

Fields poses with his Dodge Challenger on his Facebook page.

(Facebook)


Fields, of Maumee, Ohio, went by “Conscious Ovis Aries” on the social network, using the Latin word for sheep in his username. He often shared Hitler’s blue-eyed baby photo and pictures of Pepe the Frog, the anthropomorphic cartoon frog hijacked by right-wing groups and white supremacists.


Fields’ Facebook was taken offline just hours after Fields’ arrest in the death of a 32-year-old woman crushed during his alleged sports car rampage.


Fields’ mother, Samantha Bloom, said she did not know of her son’s involvement in the deadly wreck until late Saturday.


She said Fields left his cat with her on Friday and took off for an “alt-right” rally on Friday, according to the Toledo Blade.


She thought the rally “had something to do with Trump.”

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1136294829729773&set=ecnf.100000477990126&type=3

Some of the photos shared to Fields’ Facebook page included a baby photo of Hitler.

(Facebook)


“I told him to be careful,” Bloom told the Blade.


She had posted a photo of the two of them on Facebook in Aug. 2015 and noted that her son “just left for boot camp.”


Among his photos, Fields posed with the Dodge Challenger used in the crash in 2015, and shared a photo of himself sporting a U.S. Army lanyard with a scenic forested backdrop in July.


The Army could not immediately confirm if Fields served in the military.

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