Richards: Reveal Could Show Link Between Charlottesville Driver, Racist Posters on U Campus

James Alex Fields Jr., left, marches in a white nationalist rally on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017 wearing apparel and holding a shield associated with the

Alan Goffinski, AP

James Alex Fields Jr., left, marches in a white nationalist rally on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017 wearing apparel and holding a shield associated with the "American fascism" group Vanguard America. Fields is charged with driving a car into a group of counterprotesters, killing one and injuring 19.

By Connor Richards

It is a troubling look for the University of Utah, and Utah as a whole.

James Alex Fields Jr., 20, marched on Saturday afternoon with hundreds of white nationalists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia. Around 1:45 p.m., Fields allegedly drove a Dodge Charger into a group of counterprotesters marching through the street, killing a 32-year-old woman and leaving at least 19 people injured.

Before his rabid attack, Fields marched with fellow racists, antisemites and ethno-nationalists — including the group Vanguard America.

The group, a celebrator of fascism and chastiser of democracy, is associated with the racist flyers posted around campus last week.

Vanguard America made news in Utah days before the Charlottesville terror attack when racist flyers associated with the group were found taped outside multiple buildings on the University of Utah campus.

The flyers, which included a link to the group’s website, listed a series of statistics, without citation, regarding African American men and crime. “Stop the rapes,” the flyers read in bold lettering. “Stop the crime. Stop the murder. Stop the Blacks.”

[/media-credit] This flyer from Vanguard America was posted in multiple places on the University of Utah campus. James Fields, accused of driving into a crowd of people, marched wearing Vanguard America apparel on August 12. The group denies Fields’s membership and says shirts were handed out to all those in attendance.

The posters were not approved by the university and were immediately removed when they were discovered outside the George S. Eccles Student Life Center and J. Willard Marriott Library, said U spokeswoman Annalisa Purser. Although there are no leads on who put up the flyers, Vanguard America has confirmed the flyers are associated with the group.

It is troubling that there is evidence of an extreme far-right ideology, one capable of inspiring enough hatred to bring someone to plow into a crowd of people, creeping onto our campus.

On Saturday, Fields was photographed wearing a collared white shirt and tan khakis and yielding a black shield embedded with a white symbol. The symbol and attire is associated with Vanguard America, a white nationalist group that advocates for replacing democracy with “American fascism” and bringing forth “a new Caesar” in the United States.

“In an increasingly materialistic world, it is vital now more than ever to create a society based on preserving and uphold the natural order that binds us,” the group’s manifesto reads. “A multicultural nation is no nation at all, but a collection of smaller ethnic nations ruled over by an overbearing tyrannical state. Our America is to be a nation exclusively for the White American peoples who out of the barren hills, empty plains, and vast mountains forged the most powerful nation to have ever existed.”

[/media-credit] A screenshot of a Vanguard America “March Against Sharia Rally” in Harrisburg, PA in June 2017. Participants are pictured wearing collared white shirts and khakis, similar to what James Fields was wearing on August 12. The clothing is also similar to golfing outfits worn by President Donald Trump.

Fields was born in Kenton, Kentucky and lived with his mother until recently moving to Maumee, Ohio. A former high school teacher described him as  “a very bright kid but very misguided and disillusioned.”

Derek Weimer, a former history teacher at Randall K. Cooper High School in Union, Kentucky, said he remembers Fields writing an assignment expressing extreme-right ideologies. “It was very much along the party lines of the neo-Nazi movement,” Weimer told The Cincinnati Enquirer.

[/media-credit] The mugshot of James Alex Fields Jr., who faces second-degree murder charges for allegedly driving into a crowd of people in Charlottesville, Va. on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017.

“A lot of boys get interested in the Germans and Nazis because they’re interested in World War II,” he said. “But James took it to another level. He researched everything and had an intellectual argument for all his points, which is something you just don’t see that often.”

At this point, it is unclear how much involvement Fields, or those responsible for the flyers at the U, have had with Vanguard America. But the ideological links between those involved, rife with unapologetic racism and conscious nods towards Nazism, justify unequivocal condemnation in the strongest possible terms.

If Vanguard America wants to destroy democracy, they should by no means be allowed to participate in one.

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