Posted on May 8, 2024

Texas Man Gets a Year for Role in 2017 Torch-Wielding Mob at UVa

Hawes Spencer, Daily Progress, May 8, 2024

A frequently convicted White supremacist who once dared adversaries to shoot him and launch a race war has pleaded guilty to a charge stemming from his participation in the torch-wielding mob that marched across University of Virginia Grounds in 2017.

William Henry Fears IV of Pasadena, Texas, made his plea Tuesday in Albemarle County Circuit Court, where he received a one-year term, the longest of any of the men who have been charged for their involvement in the 2017 episode.

“I made the decision to plea as a matter of convenience,” Fears told Judge Cheryl Higgins.

“The court is going to find that you are entering an Alford plea,” responded Higgins, noting the type of guilty plea in which guilt is not explicitly admitted.

Fears was among the crowd of White supremacists that marched across UVa Grounds on Aug. 11, 2017, shouting “Jews will not replace us” and the Nazi slogan “Blood and soil.” At the end of their march, prosecutor Lawton Tufts noted that the mob surrounded a smaller group of counterprotesters, many of them students, at the base of the statue of Founding Father Thomas Jefferson outside UVa’s iconic Rotunda.

“The defendant was near the front of this group,” said Tufts.

The court has already meted out six-month sentences to two other members of the mob who offered prior guilty pleas. Tufts told the judge that Fears presented an unusually active approach to the counterprotesters standing around the statue of Jefferson.

“His actions in 2017 were differentiated from other defendants,” said Tufts. “That included him using a torch to hit an individual.”


Lawyers for some other defendants arrested long after these events have spoken critically of the prosecution, calling it political. Others have noted that their clients have been plucked from families and jobs more than six years after the events. {snip}