“At a counter-protest for the Charlottesville White Supremacy rally, a 20 year old (my daughter, a Houston native) was one of the people who got hit by a car. She’s in the hospital and we really will appreciate any help for the hospital expenses. Natalie does not have health insurance at this time and has sustained skull fractures among other injuries from the attack. Thank you and God Bless you” (sic).
That’s the message on a GoFundMe page asking for $120,000 in donations — and has already surpassed $130,000 — for Natalie Romero, one of the 19 people injured when James Alex Fields Jr. allegedly drove his car into a crowd of counter protestors at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA on Aug. 12.
Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal, died in the crash.
Romero, who had just completed her freshman year at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, remains hospitalized with severe injuries.
Natalie’s mother, Ericka Chaves, has told the media her daughter is the first in the family to attend college and doesn’t have health insurance.
Chaves said Romero’s injuries are non-life-threatening and she is getting better but is not yet able to talk.
The apparent intentional ramming of counter protestors has galvanized both white supremacists and their opposition. The former promise this is the beginning of more demonstrations. The latter has also taken to the streets to advocate for peace.
Fields, who was arrested and charged with second-degree murder, was denied bail by a judge on Monday, Aug. 14, after the public defender’s office said it couldn’t represent him because a relative of someone in the office was injured in Saturday’s protest.
Fields was assigned a local attorney, and another hearing was set for Aug. 25.
According to police records released Monday, Fields was arrested and previously accused of beating his mother Samantha Bloom and threatening her with a knife. Bloom, who is disabled and uses a wheelchair, repeatedly called police about her son in 2010 and 2011, telling officers he was on medication to control his temper, according transcripts from 911 calls.
Fields was put in juvenile detention after Bloom reported in 2011 that he stood behind her wielding a 12-inch knife. In another incident in 2010, she said her son smacked her in the head and locked her in the bathroom after she told him to stop playing video games. There was no indication in the records that he was arrested.
Fascinated with Nazism
A former classmate told The Associated Press that on a school trip to Europe in 2015, a teenage Fields said he couldn’t stand the French and he only went on the trip so that he could visit “the Fatherland” — Germany.
Derek Weimer, who taught Fields in high school, said Fields was fascinated with Nazism, idolized Hitler, and had been singled out in the ninth grade by officials at Randall K. Cooper High School in Union, Kentucky, for his “deeply held, radical” convictions on race.
Fields confided that he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was younger and had been prescribed an anti-psychotic medication, according to the teacher.
Fields later enlisted in the Army and reported for basic training in 2015 but was released from active duty four months later because of what military described only as “a failure to meet training standards.”
Fields had been photographed hours before the attack with a shield bearing the emblem of Vanguard America, one of the hate groups that took part in the protest against the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The group on Sunday, Aug. 13, denied any association with Fields.
Those who would like to help Romero with her medical expenses can visit https://www.gofundme.com/natalie-romero-medical-fund