As the jury delivered its guilty verdict against a neo-Nazi accused of murder for ramming his car into a group of counter-protesters at a white supremacist rally last year, Wednesday "Al" Bowie burst into tears of joy.
"I'm feeling the best I've felt in almost a year and a half," said Bowie, 28, whose pelvis was shattered into six pieces when James Alex Fields Jr plowed his gray Dodge Challenger into the crowd protesting the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12, 2017.
Fields was found guilty Friday of first-degree murder for killing Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal, in his vehicle rampage. He was also convicted of five counts of aggravated malicious wounding, three of malicious wounding, and one of hit-and-run.
"This was white supremacy in one of its worst forms," Bowie told AFP. "We need to be addressing even the more innocuous forms that we see in our daily lives."
Bowie rushed to help people hit by Fields' car -- a decision that backfired when she was struck as the vehicle reversed.
Her words echoed those of many activists in the bucolic college town, who believe that Fields' assault was only a symptom of institutional racism rooted in the city's history.
The rally was called by alt-right supremo Richard Spencer to protest a planned removal of a statute of Robert E. Lee, the top general of the pro-slavery Confederacy in the 1861-65 Civil War.
Anti-racism protesters from the city and elsewhere amassed to counter the far right, leading to confrontations that culminated in the car attack.
The city council had voted to remove the 94-year-old statue, but its fate is now in the hands of a court after lawsuits were filed -- including by the Sons of Confederate Veterans -- to reverse the decision.