Mother of Charlottesville suspect says she thought rally was abo - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Mother of Charlottesville suspect says she thought rally was about Trump, not white nationalism

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NBC NEWS

The mother of the young man suspected of ramming his car through a crowd of protesters during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, said she thought her son was attending a Trump-related rally on Saturday.

James Alex Fields Jr., 20, of Ohio, was taken into custody shortly after he allegedly drove his car into a crowd of anti-racist protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring at least 19 people.

Fields’ mother Samantha Bloom, who was watching her son’s cat at the time the incident took place, only learned that her son was suspected of plowing his car into protesters when she was approached by reporters at her home in Maumee, Ohio.

“Running his car into a crowd of people? Did it hurt anybody?” she asked after learning the news, saying she hadn’t been notified of her son’s arrest.

A witness who filmed the car crash said he saw the vehicle build up speed before ramming the crowd. "It was very clearly intentional," Brennan Gilmore told NBC News.

After being told about the white supremacist purpose of the rally, Bloom said she was under the impression her son was merely attending a political rally — not a nationalist march.

“I didn’t know it was white supremacists. I thought it had something to do with Trump,” she said. “Trump’s not a supremacist.”

Bloom said she doesn't talk about politics with her son.

“I try to stay out of his political views. We don’t — I don’t really get too involved,” Bloom said. “... like I said, I don’t really talk to him about his political views. So I don’t really understand what the rally was about.”

federal civil rights investigation into the ramming has been launched, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the probe "will have the full support of the Department of Justice."

President Donald Trump faced bipartisan criticism after suggesting "both sides" were to blame for the violence in Charlottesville.

Democrats criticized the president for failing to single out white nationalists, and several Republicans issued statements condemning white nationalism or white supremacists.

As Bloom was told about the allegations against her son, she told reporters that Fields' has a black friend.

The car-ramming attack followed a Friday night march, where hundreds of white supremacists carrying tiki torches clashed with counter-protests on the University of Virginia campus.

Marchers alternated between chanting the Nazi-linked slogan “Blood and soil!” and You will not replace us!" among others.

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