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Database of August 12 Charlottesville Videos

August 29, 2017

By Aric Toler

Translations: Русский

You can find a copy of the database here

On August 12, 2017, white supremacists, far-right activists, and others participated in the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, with the stated goal of protesting the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park in the city center. The rally was marked with violence throughout the day, and at its most tragic moment, a neo-Nazi who traveled to the rally from Ohio drove into a group of counter-protesters near Water and Fourth Street, killing a young woman named Heather Heyer.

In the weeks following the events of Charlottesville, photographs and videos emerged showing the dramatic events of August 12, including materials showing a group of Unite the Right protesters attacking a young African-American man named Deandre Harris in a parking garage.

Dan Borden, one of the men in this photograph, was arrested on August 25 at his home in Ohio, likely due to online efforts to identify the attackers seen in the widely-shared photographs and videos. Additionally, a man was arrested after the American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU) of Virginia released a video showing him firing a gun near an African-American man after using racial slurs against him.

There are a number of unresolved questions from the rally, including the identities of some of the most violent individuals. With nearly everyone at the rally having a cell phone, there are likely hundreds of videos online showing the events of August 12. We have attempted to catalog these videos into a spreadsheet on Google Docs, providing a publicly accessible area for our readers to find and even contribute materials showing the events of August 12.

In this database, we have focused on user-generated videos, including those from livestreamers (such as Faith J. Goldy), participants, activists, and semi-amateur news distributors (such as Unicorn Riot), and have avoided the video materials published from large news organizations, such as the BBC, RT, Voice of America, and so on. The primary reason for this is because news footage from professional news organizations is unlikely to be lost, while user-generated content can easily be deleted and disappear from the internet forever. Additionally, we have saved metadata from the videos in case they are deleted, including the title and video description. Nearly all of the videos in this database have been saved by the Bellingcat staff, and we will eventually provide a third-party link to a backup copy of each video on a file sharing service, such as Dropbox or Google Drive. If you are interested in a particular video that is listed below, leave a comment to this story or add a comment to the spreadsheet, and we can try to provide a backup link quicker.

Finding, cataloging, and archiving these user-generated videos is vital for understanding how the events of August 12 in Charlottesville transpired, and preserving possible evidence showing criminal actions. Bellingcat has worked with the Syrian Archive for a similar goal of preserving footage showing war crimes in the Syrian Civil War. This task is vital, as user-generated content is often removed from YouTube and other platforms due to a number of factors, including recently implemented anti-extremism algorithms. Our database of August 12 Charlottesville videos is not nearly as extensive or meticulous as the Syrian Archive’s work, but we hope that it will still be useful.

If you find new videos or can add a geolocation or additional information to an existing video, please leave a comment with that information in the spreadsheet (here) and we will add it after verification. We have only started to add geolocations to the database, but most will be quite simple with the locations in many video titles or with visible landmarks in places such as Emancipation Park or major streets. An embedded version of the database can be found below, and you can view it on a separate page here where you can leave comments.

Aric Toler

Aric Toler has written with Bellingcat since 2015 and currently leads the Eurasia/Eastern Europe team. Along with his research into topics in the former Soviet Union, he organizes and leads Bellingcat's Russian-language workshops for journalists and researchers. He graduated with an MA in Slavic Languages & Literatures from the University of Kansas in 2013, focusing on Russian literature and intellectual history. After graduation, he worked for two years as an intelligence specialist in the private sector. If you have any questions, or have a story idea related to eastern Europe or Eurasia, you can contact him at arictoler@bellingcat.com

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