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Indiana pro-white activist among prominent speakers, organizers at violent Charlottesville rally

Posted at 12:09 PM, Aug 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-14 15:08:03-04

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- One of the more prominent people involved in the violent white nationalist march in Charlottesville is an Indiana transplant that RTV6 has featured before.

Matthew Heimbach, who lives in Paoli, Indiana, helped promote the rally that has been linked to at least three deaths after white nationalists and counter-protesters clashed in Charlottesville Saturday. 

Heimbach, who moved to Indiana from Maryland after marrying into a Hoosier family, was listed among the prominent speakers at the Saturday rally, according to Newsweek.

He has been called a white supremacist, a racist, a neo-Nazi and the future of organized hate in America.

Heimbach was at the rally in a helmet and body armor, joining the many other dozens of white nationalist supporters who donned shields and other protective gear. 

The rally turned violent quickly when counter-protesters formed a barricade, forcing the white nationalist march to stop. It escalated to skirmishes of violence as police tried to control the scene.

Ultimately, a 32-year-old woman was killed and 19 people were wounded when a car plowed into the counter-protesters. The suspected driver has been identified as an Ohio man who was "very infatuated with Nazis." A Virginia State Police helicopter also crashed while trying to survey and help control the rally, killing two troopers. 

MORE ON CHARLOTTESVILLE VIOLENCE | Photos: Chaos at Charlottesville rally as protesters clash | Victim identified in Charlottesville car ramming attack | Charlottesville rally violence: What we know | Charlottesville vehicle ramming suspect was reportedly "infatuated with Nazis"

Heimbach is a nationally known pro-white activist who is a regular speaker on the radical right lecture circuit. 

He pleaded guilty last month to charges stemming form the harassment of a woman at a Louisville rally for Donald Trump during his presidential campaign, which included allegations of shoving the woman to the ground. 

Heimbach was also fired from the Indiana Department of Child Services in 2016 after less than three weeks of working as one of 950 family case managers. He spent several weeks in classroom training and had access to children and families, alongside a mentor and other caseworkers.

READ MORE | White nationalist hired, fired by Indiana DCS

Heimbach told RTV6 at the time of the firing that he believed he was wrongfully terminated. 

Heimbach believes it was his political beliefs that triggered his firing at DCS, saying his coworkers had learned of his beliefs and told him they were going to report him to DCS supervisors.

A day later, he was escorted out of classroom training on January 28, 2016, Heimbach said.

“Before I was even able to say anything, I was handed a piece of paper that said ‘you’re fired,'” said Heimbach, who added he was not given any further explanation for his termination.

Heimbach said he does not think his political beliefs would result in any bias toward certain families or children.

“I’m a humanitarian at the end of the day,” said Heimbach. “One of my coworkers was talking about being involved in the Black Lives Matter movement. There is obviously a double standard.”

Heimbach denies being racist, if you define racist as someone that hates races other than their own.

“I’ve never been a hate filled person,” said Heimbach. “I have no animosity toward any other group, but (racist) is this title thrown out for any white person who thinks we should be able to stand up for ourselves.”

Heimbach said he ruffled some feathers during DCS training when he questioned why DCS case workers are not expected to report illegal immigrants.

A spokesperson for the Indiana State Personnel Department said the DCS provides a 12-week training period for family case manager trainees where DCS determines if an employee is a “good fit.”

Heimbach did not pass his probationary period, according to that spokesperson, pointing to his "behavior at work" and not his political beliefs.