state hate race charlottesville sidner pkg vpx_00030708.jpg
state hate race charlottesville sidner pkg vpx_00030708.jpg
Now playing
06:07
The victims in America's state of hate
Nafiah Ikram
WCBS
Nafiah Ikram
Now playing
01:51
Acid attack victim speaks after horrifying incident
President Biden is hosting a two-day virtual summit of world leaders starting today, which coincides with Earth Day, to address the global climate crisis. He committed the United States to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 50%-52% below its 2005 emissions levels by 2030.
Pool
President Biden is hosting a two-day virtual summit of world leaders starting today, which coincides with Earth Day, to address the global climate crisis. He committed the United States to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 50%-52% below its 2005 emissions levels by 2030.
Now playing
03:56
Biden opens global climate summit: 'This is a moral imperative'
stacey abrams john kennedy split
POOL
stacey abrams john kennedy split
Now playing
07:39
'Ok, I get the idea': GOP senator cuts off Stacey Abrams on controversial voting law
Now playing
03:05
Was QAnon used by foreign adversaries?
pool
Now playing
02:53
How Derek Chauvin conviction launched federal probe
Pharmacy student Jason Rodriguez prepares Pfizer vaccines at the Christine E. Lynn Rehabilitation Center in Miami, Florida on April 15, 2021. - Jackson Health System launched a Covid-19 vaccination initiative with colleges and universities in Miami-Dade County, which include Barry University, Florida International University, Florida Memorial University, Miami Dade College and University of Miami. Through this partnership, students who are Florida residents, as well as out-of-state and international students, will be allowed to sign up for a COVID vaccine appointment via our online portal. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)
CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images
Pharmacy student Jason Rodriguez prepares Pfizer vaccines at the Christine E. Lynn Rehabilitation Center in Miami, Florida on April 15, 2021. - Jackson Health System launched a Covid-19 vaccination initiative with colleges and universities in Miami-Dade County, which include Barry University, Florida International University, Florida Memorial University, Miami Dade College and University of Miami. Through this partnership, students who are Florida residents, as well as out-of-state and international students, will be allowed to sign up for a COVID vaccine appointment via our online portal. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)
Now playing
01:55
Covid-19 vaccine demand may soon reach a tipping point
Now playing
04:03
Taliban threatens to kill Afghans who worked for US during war
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) speaks to reporters as she arrives for the continuation of the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol on January 29, 2020 in Washington, DC. The next phase of the trial, in which senators will be allowed to ask written questions, will extend into tomorrow. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Mario Tama/Getty Images
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) speaks to reporters as she arrives for the continuation of the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol on January 29, 2020 in Washington, DC. The next phase of the trial, in which senators will be allowed to ask written questions, will extend into tomorrow. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Now playing
04:08
Murkowski explains why she's voting for Biden nominee
pool
Now playing
04:20
Watch as judge reads out verdict in Chauvin trial
News 12 Long Island
Now playing
02:45
1 dead and 2 wounded in shooting at Long Island Stop & Shop
CNN
Now playing
01:33
Gupta on Covid-19: It doesn't seem to transmit well on surfaces
Now playing
05:01
'Did I strike a nerve?': Val Demings takes on Jim Jordan
NBC/Today Show
Now playing
02:27
'To a certain extent, nativist': Bush criticizes current GOP
NASA/JPL
Now playing
01:29
Watch the Ingenuity helicopter's first flight on Mars
AirTag
Apple
AirTag
Now playing
01:17
See AirTag, Apple's new device for tracking your lost stuff
Scene video following a crash involving a Tesla Saturday night in Spring, TX
Scott Engle
Scene video following a crash involving a Tesla Saturday night in Spring, TX
Now playing
01:09
Fatal Tesla crash had no one in the driver's seat, police say
(CNN) —  

The violence that erupted in Charlottesville almost two years ago sent shock waves far beyond the picturesque university town in Virginia.

One woman died, dozens were injured, and a nation was traumatized by the specter of rising alt-right violence.

The Charlottesville story is far from over, but one chapter closed Friday when James A. Fields Jr. was sentenced to life in prison for hate crimes. The 22-year-old was behind the wheel of the car that plowed into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing Heather Heyer.

This is how we got here.

The statues

The statue of Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson in Charlottesville.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
The statue of Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson in Charlottesville.

In February 2017, the Charlottesville City Council voted to rename two parks named for Confederate generals and to remove a bronze statue of one of those generals, Robert E. Lee, from an eponymous downtown park.

Other Southern cities had removed dozens of Confederate monuments from public property after a self-described white supremacist massacred nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.

The Charlottesville move met with resistance, as some residents sued, and a judge blocked the statue’s removal for six months while the matter was litigated.

The City Council voted again in April, this time agreeing to sell the statue and let the buyer remove it, CNN affiliate WVIR reported.

The first response by white nationalists

01:08 - Source: CNN
Spencer: 'Make white privilege great again'

In mid-May 2017, Richard Spencer led a demonstration that served a prelude to the deadly violence that occurred in August.

Spencer, a prominent white nationalist and a graduate of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, led torch-wielding demonstrators in a march on the city. They were met by counterprotesters. Three people were arrested, and one police officer was hurt.

In July, about 50 Ku Klux Klan members, some in Klan robes, arrived in the city, where they were outnumbered 20-to-1 by counterprotesters.

Torches on campus

00:45 - Source: CNN
Torch-bearing white nationalists march on UVA

Jason Kessler, a vocal white nationalist, organized a “Unite the Right” rally for the weekend of August 11-12, 2017, that was aimed at “standing up for our history.”

On Friday night, August 11, a group marched across the University of Virginia campus carrying torches and chanting white nationalist slogans. Scuffles with counterprotesters broke out near a campus statue of President Thomas Jefferson. Police ran off the white nationalists and counterprotesters.

Saturday violence

01:23 - Source: CNN
One killed in Charlottesville protest

On Saturday, August 12, the two groups again fought in the streets. The governor declared a state of emergency. More law enforcement officers poured into the city.

Around 1:30 p.m. ET, a silver Dodge Charger plowed into a crowd of people who opposed the white nationalists. The often-played video was dramatic, showing protesters flying through the air upon impact.

Police arrested the driver and identified him as James Alex Fields Jr., then 20, of Maumee, Ohio. Later that day, two Virginia State Police troopers died after their helicopter crashed while on patrol near the clashes.

Trump’s ‘fine people’ remark

09:14 - Source: CNN
Heated panel over Trump's response to violence (full)

Hours after the attack, President Donald Trump went onto Twitter and admonished “hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides.” Many people felt he should have singled out the white nationalists who staged the rally.

Two days later, Trump held a news conference and further inflamed critics, saying “both sides are to blame.”

“What about the ‘alt-left’ that came charging at, as you say, the ‘alt-right,’ do they have any semblance of guilt?” Trump asked. Trump also said there were some “very bad people” on both sides, but that there was some who came out to protest the removal of Robert E. Lee’s statue who were “fine people.”

Critics replayed the comments over and over. Trump defended his words as recently as April, when former Vice President Joe Biden referred to them while announcing his candidacy for the presidency.

UVA bans Spencer

American universities, not just UVA, struggled with how to allow free speech while regulating hate speech.

In October 2017, Spencer led a third march in Charlottesville. That same month, he spoke on the University of Florida campus, where he was heckled. Earlier in 2017, he spoke at Auburn University and scuffles broke out.

In October 2018, UVA acted against Spencer, banning him from campus for four years. Nine other people involved in the United the Right rally were also banned.

The march toward justice

02:30 - Source: CNN
Charlottesville driver gets life in prison for attack

In December 2018, Fields was found guilty in state court of first-degree murder and nine other charges. He will be sentenced July 15.

Fields pleaded guilty to 29 federal hate crimes last March, a plea that allowed him to avoid capital punishment. On Friday, he was sentenced to life without a chance of parole.

The statues are still there

A Virginia judge ruled in April 2019 that the statues of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson in Charlottesville are war monuments that the city cannot remove without permission from the state.