Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke will pay $5,000 to a survivor of the Unite the Right car attack after a judgment was entered against him this week in an Ohio federal court.
Duke was among a swath of defendants named in a lawsuit from William “Bill” Burke, an Ohio man who was badly injured when James Alex Fields Jr. attacked a crowd of anti-racist protesters with his vehicle in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, 2017. Fields has since been convicted of murdering Heather Heyer and of committing federal hate crimes.
In May, Burke filed the suit against key organizers and participants in the rally, many of whom have since been dismissed through technicalities.
Burke, who attended the rally to protest against racism, testified at both Fields’ state and federal sentencing hearings, sharing not only the physical toll, but also the emotional and mental toll that the rally and car attack took on him.
According to court documents, a judgment against Duke was entered Wednesday, ordering him to pay $5,000 to Burke and effectively dismissing him from the lawsuit.
Burke’s attorney, Michael Fradin, described the judgment as a victory and as an “important step in the fight against white supremacy.”
“Bill Burke has stood against racism, bigotry, anti-Semitism and homophobia his whole life and traveled to Charlottesville to stand alongside others doing the same,” Fradin said. “He is a true American and a role model for those fighting for civil rights.”
In a news release, Duke’s attorney, Kyle J. Bristow, also claimed victory in the judgment, describing the $5,000 sum as “insignificant.”
“The plaintiff’s claims against Duke constituted nothing more than a nuisance, and the civil action was resolved for a mere $5,000 after the plaintiff was faced with the possibility of having to pay Duke’s costs should the plaintiff not accept the offer of judgment and not thereafter improve the plaintiff’s position,” Bristow wrote.
The judgment against Duke came less than two weeks after the former grand wizard of the KKK filed his latest motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
Specifically, Burke’s lawsuit alleges that though the rally was ostensibly about a Charlottesville City Council vote to remove a downtown statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, the rally also was intended to explicitly send a message of white supremacy.
According to recent court filings, various defendants were not served the initial complaint nor the amended complaint. Consequently, Burke’s lawyer was required to show why the court should not dismiss the claims against those defendants, extending the deadline to Dec. 10, 2019, to serve the initial complaint to those who had not yet been served.
In a Dec. 25 filing, Burke’s attorney wrote that his client did not object to the dismissal of Fields and Jason Kessler, nor of Vanguard America, Robert Ray, Mathew Heimbach, Proud Boys, Richard Spencer, National Front, Augustus Sol Invictus, Honorable Sacred Knights and 2,000 unnamed individuals, and they were formally dismissed on Jan. 7.