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Indiana white nationalist at Charlottesville: 'We defended ourselves'

Posted at 2:13 PM, Aug 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-14 15:07:30-04

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- An Indiana man at the center of the white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Va. over the weekend blamed the violence on the city and the police department.

"We defended ourselves," said Matthew Heimbach, the chairman of the Traditionalist Worker Party. "We brought helmets and shields. The enemy brought improvised flamethrowers. They brought bleach. They brought paint. They bought sticks. They brought knives. ... The police were given a 'stand down' order as we were trying to exercise our legal, constitutional right to have a permit. This is on the hands of the city government, on the police and the radical left."

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Traditionalist Worker Party is a white nationalist group that blames Jews for many of the world's problems. 

Speaking outside a Charlottesville courtroom Monday, Heimbach wore a T-shirt with a photo of 1920s-era Romanian politician Corneliu Codreanu. Codreanu founded the Iron Guard, a violent antisemitic group. Heimbach also wore a cross around his neck.

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He said the man suspected of driving into counter-protesters Saturday, 20-year-old James Fields, was scared for his life. 

A 32-year-old woman was killed when a car plowed into a crowd of people. Fields was charged with second-degree murder, malicious wounding and failure to stop in an accident that resulted in death.

"Our people were the ones who were attacked," Heimbach said Monday.

Heimbach is a prominent pro-white speaker. He pleaded guilty last month to charges stemming from harassment at a Donald Trump rally last year. He has said the case was the product of a "huge social media campaign" by "anti-fascists" and "far-left activists."

He was also fired by the Indiana Department of Child Services in 2016 after less than three weeks of work. At the time, he said he believed he was wrongfully terminated for his beliefs. 

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

READ MORE | White nationalist hired, fired by Indiana DCS

As he talked to reporters on Monday, a counter-protester showed up, holding up two middle fingers to him and chanting "Nazis go home!"

After four minutes, police broke up the scrum where Heimbach was speaking, protecting him from any other counter-protesters as they led him away.

Watch Heimbach's complete comments in the video player above