By Ben Peters
Athens NEWS Associate Editor
A former Athens County resident on Wednesday accepted a judgment offer made by a Cincinnati-based neo-Nazi group sued in connection to the severe injuries he sustained at the 2017 “unite the right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
According to federal court documents, William Burke will be rewarded $10,000 from The Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP), one of many far-right hate groups present at the rally that he sued.
TWP is a Southern Poverty Law Center designated hate group that “advocates for racially pure nations and communities and blames Jews for many of the world’s problems.”
The judgment entry — which is not the same as a settlement — essentially means that TWP will pay that sum in exchange for being released from the lawsuit. Burke’s attorney, Micheal Fradin, said that $1,000 of the anticipated payment will be donated to the PRIZM LGBTQA+ Youth Art Program, an after-school group in Athens for young members of the LGBTQ community.
“This judgement could not have come at a more historically relevant time and we hope that it helps pave the way for holding instigators, inciters, and conspirators of right-wing violence accountable,” Fradin said.
The judgment comes after TWP tried numerous times, to no avail, to have the case dismissed.
In June, TWP and its Cincinnati-based lawyer James E. Kolenich denied Burke’s allegations that the organization intentionally inflicted physical and emotional distress on him after Ohio resident Alex Fields. Jr. drove a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, including Burke, who were demonstrating the white nationalists’ march on Charlottesville. Kolenich did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The attack resulted in Burke sustaining “significant head injuries,” according to a previous report in The Athens NEWS.
Burke, who now lives in Dayton, also experienced emotional trauma after witnessing the death of Heather Hayer, who was struck by Fields’ vehicle, the lawsuit alleged.
Burke’s legal battle against TWP is just one of many efforts on his part to dismantle far-right extremist groups in court.
He was awarded $5,000 last year from David Duke, the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, in a judgment entry.