PEOPLE shares a first look at HBO's new documentary "No Accident," following attorneys as they attempt to prove that violence at the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally was the result of "covert planning"
Six years after a White nationalist rally brought death and destruction to Charlottesville, Virginia, a new HBO documentary pulls back the curtain on how lawyers set out to hold its organizers accountable.
Titled No Accident, the documentary follows attorneys Roberta “Robbie” Kaplan and Karen Dunn as they bring forth (and, ultimately, win) the case of Sines vs. Kessler, which held the orchestrators of the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally accountable for the violence that occurred.
No Accident promises "bombshell after bombshell," shining light on victims of the violence and detailing the communications between those who perpetrated it. (Communications that the attorneys suggest show a concerted effort to sow mayhem).
"These aren't just isolated people," Kaplan says in a trailer for the documentary, shared exclusively with PEOPLE. "It is part of a movement."
The "Unite the Right" rally — organized by alt-right and White supremacy groups — began with White nationalists marching through the streets of Charlottesville to protest the removal of a statue depicting Confederate general Robert E. Lee. The first day of rallying was met with severe backlash as the White nationalists violently clashed with a large number of counter-protesters.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency in response to the violence and declared the rally illegal. But the violence didn't stop, with 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. driving his car into a group of counter-protesters on Aug. 12, killing one 32-year-old woman and injuring at least 19 people.
Rather than move to swiftly condemn the attacks and order the litigation of those who instigated them, then-President Donald Trump insisted that there were bad actors on "both sides" of the event — a comment that was roundly criticized by those on either side of the political aisle.
In the wake of Trump's comments and sensing that the Department of Justice would not intervene, attorneys Kaplan and Dunn filed a civil lawsuit against 17 White nationalist leaders and organizations on behalf of nine plaintiffs who suffered physical or emotional injuries while counter-protesting the rally.
The lawsuit alleged that the event was not an isolated, spontaneous gathering, but rather "a well-planned and coordinated conspiracy to incite racially motivated violence and to advance a race-war agenda.”
No Accident shows the attorneys formulating their argument that, when Fields drove into the crowd, it wasn't a mistake, but rather the result of "covert planning."
How the case ended is, at this point, well-established.
In 2021, a Virginia jury found a group of White nationalists who organized the rally liable of engaging in a conspiracy ahead of the violent demonstration, awarding the plaintiffs more than $25 million in damages.
Fields, meanwhile, pleaded guilty to 29 federal hate crimes and was sentenced to life in prison in June 2019.
No Accident, directed by Emmy Award-winner Kristi Jacobson, premieres on HBO Tuesday, Oct. 10, at 9 p.m. and will be available to stream on Max.
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