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Fundraiser for Heather Heyer, counterprotester killed at Charlottesville rally, nets $225,000

Published: Monday, August 14, 2017 @ 9:42 AM

WATCH: Footage From "Unite the Right" Rally

An online fundraiser for the family of Heather Heyer, who was killed in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday when a car plowed through a group of counterprotesters, has raised nearly $225,000 -- exceeding by more than four times its original goal.

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Donations continue to pour into the GoFundMe account.

MORE: Ludacris’ response to Charlottesville: ‘Music brings ALL races together’

PHOTOS: Violence erupts at Unite the Right rally

First person piece: ‘This is not my Charlottesville’

“Heather Heyer was murdered while protesting against hate,” the GoFundMe account creator, Felicia Venita Correa, wrote in the account’s page description. “We are raising money to give to her family for anything that they may need. The family is aware of this and is in complete charge of when and where the funds will be released. She is a Greene County native and graduated from William Monroe High School. Her mother (whom I will not name until she is ready) said “She died doing what was right. My heart is broken, but I am forever proud of her. She will truly be missed.”

The banner image on Heyer’s Facebook page spoke of civic engagement:

President Donald Trump addressed Heyer’s death via Twitter without naming her, writing: “Condolences to the family of the young woman killed today, and best regards to all of those injured, in Charlottesville, Virginia. So sad!”

Alt-Right Rally in Virginia

Authorities arrested James Alex Fields, 20, of Ohio, and charged him with second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and one count of failing to stop at an accident that resulted in a death.

MORE: What do we know about James Alex Fields?

The latest updates from Charlottesville

The Associated Press reported three other arrests stemming from Saturday’s chaos in Charlottesville, where people protesting the removal of a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee clashed with counterprotesters. Troy Dunigan, 21, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, was charged with disorderly conduct; Jacob L. Smith, 21, of Louisa, Virginia, was charged with assault and battery; and James M. O’Brien, 44, of Gainesville, Florida, was charged with carrying a concealed handgun.

In a statement on Saturday, Trump blamed “many sides” for inciting the violence -- an equivocation that’s drawn criticism from across the political spectrum. Here are comments from Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who was once Trump’s rival for the presidential nomination, and former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder:

“We agreed that the hate and the division must stop, and must stop right now,” Trump said during remarks issued from his New Jersey resort. “We have to come together as Americans with love for our nation and true affection for each other,” he said. “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump. Not Barack Obama. It’s been going on for a long, long time.”

He also called for a swift return of law and order. Here are some excerpts from the statement, posted on Trump’s Twitter feed:

People gather downtown protest the alt-right movement and to mourn the victims of yesterdays rally in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 13, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. One person was killed and 19 others were injured in Charlottesville when a car plowed into a group of activists who were preparing to march in opposition to a nearby white nationalists rally. Two police officers were also killed when a helicopter they were using to monitor the rally crashed. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)(Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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Self-proclaimed white nationalist banned from Seattle gym

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 12:07 AM

A Seattle gym banned Greg Johnson, a self-proclaimed white nationalist. (Photo: KIRO7.com)
A Seattle gym banned Greg Johnson, a self-proclaimed white nationalist. (Photo: KIRO7.com)

A self-proclaimed white nationalist was banned from a Fremont gym after the owners learned he is a leader in the alt-right community.

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The owners of Northwest Fitness Project say Greg Johnson is longer welcome there.

“The trainer terminated his contract and we banned him from the gym,” said Kyle Davis, a co-owner of the gym.

It's a move that has some people wondering if it violates a city ordinance that says "places of public accommodation" can't discriminate based on a person's beliefs.

But the owners of the gym say that ordinance doesn't apply -- because it’s not a public space. To use the space, you must be the client of a trainer.

“There’s no open gym membership, it's not like people can come and go as they please,” Davis said. “Trainers come and run their own businesses out of this location."

“There's a right of first refusal of the independent trainer. And (the trainer) chose to not work with him anymore due to the harm it would cause his reputation, and not wanting to be associated with those views,” Davis said.

The Southern Poverty Law Center calls Greg Johnson an "international figure for white nationalism” and “one of the leading voices of the far-right.”

In September 2017, the New York Times interviewed him undercover and posted it on its website.

In the interview, Johnson says, “I would identify myself as a white nationalist. That states the goals I have politically.”

When asked about people who are Jewish, Johnson says, “The solution would ultimately (be) to expel them.”

Davis said he’s disturbed to hear Johnson’s views.

“I would feel threatened, yes,” he said. “I'm converting to Judaism, my fiancée is Jewish and we want to raise our kids Jewish.”

The owners say after Johnson was banned, a white nationalist publication told followers to post negative reviews on the gym's Yelp and Facebook pages.

“We were at a five (star average review); it went down to a three,” said Matthew Holland, the other co-owner of Northwest Fitness Project.

But hundreds of people supported the gym on social media, helping it bounce back.

“Now we're to like a 4.8,” Holland said. “We have a great community and we didn't realize how awesome they all were. Going through a rough time like this, it was just so encouraging.”

The Puget Sound Anarchists first published last week that Johnson lives in Seattle. It’s also how the gym owners found out about Johnson’s beliefs.

Johnson did not comment.

The gym said it heard Johnson left the area.

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Several sinkholes open in Florida neighborhood, threaten homes

Published: Sunday, February 18, 2018 @ 11:24 PM

Several sinkholes opened in a Florida neighborhood. (Photo: WFTV.com)
Several sinkholes opened in a Florida neighborhood. (Photo: WFTV.com)

Several sinkholes opened in The Villages Thursday, threatening several homes, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office said. 

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Four homes have been evacuated. Officials said the largest of the three holes is 35 feet deep and 18 feet wide. 

One of the sinkholes that opened up is outside Frank Newman’s home.

He said he heard strange sounds and wasn’t sure what was going on.

“At about 12:30 I was watching the Olympics when I heard something that I thought was thunder,” Newman said.

Hours later, he found out what was actually going on.

“My front door bell rings about 3:10. It was a policeman saying, ‘You got to get out of your house,’” Newman said.

Marion County Emergency Management was also at the scene and said that utilities to the four closest homes have been disconnected as a precaution.

The sinkholes go beneath two of the homes.

Photos: Sinkholes open in Villages neighborhood

Cracks formed outside Newman’s neighbor’s home and a hole opened up near her front door.

“In her house, she is seeing cracks inside the house on the floor and stuff,” Newman said. “She can’t get her car out of the garage because the garage door won’t open.”

Signs have been placed outside some of the homes warning the houses have been condemned.

Golf course officials are draining a lake to help the situation. Utilities officials said that if a water main break occurs, they will be able to handle it, but 20 homes could potentially lose water service if that happens.

Residents were allowed to briefly return to their homes to pick up some belongings.

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Broward County Sheriff visits Parkland school shooting victim in hospital

Published: Sunday, February 18, 2018 @ 8:57 PM

Victims of the Florida High School Mass Shooting

The Broward County sheriff said he was honored to visit a young student who survived the Feb. 14 South Florida school shooting that's left a community reeling. 

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The Broward County Sheriff's Office published a photo of Sheriff Scott Israel holding the hand of Anthony Borges, 15, in his hospital room.

"Fortunately, he is recovering -- but has a long road ahead with more surgeries needed," the Sheriff's Office posted. "Please join us in praying for the swift recovery of Anthony and all the other victims of this horrific criminal act."

The Sheriff's Office said in the Facebook post that Borges was shot five times during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Seventeen people, including students and staff, were killed in the shooting.

Nikolas Cruz, 19, who admitted to the shooting, remains in custody at the Broward County jail after being ordered held without bond on 17 counts of premeditated murder.

As memorials for the shooting victims continue, students are demanding tighter gun control and walkouts are being planned in the wake of the tragedy. 

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Florida sheriff pushes for 'game changer' program to arm teachers

Published: Sunday, February 18, 2018 @ 7:50 PM

Shooter Reportedly In Custody In Florida High School Shooting

Sheriff Grady Judd in Polk County, Florida, went on the news Saturday to talk about the so-called “Sentinel Program” as a possible legislative response to mass shootings like the one that happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, last week, that left 17 dead.

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Judd called the program a “game changer” by arming select educators whose backgrounds have been vetted thoroughly, who have been psychologically evaluated and trained in weapons more intensely than law enforcement by state standards.

The sheriff argued that the solution is not something he wants, but it’s something that must happen.

“We have got to wake up, wake up and understand that we have to have … specially trained people that have concealed firearms that can run to the threat and protect our children,” he said.

“Do you know that there is gun control on every campus in Florida -- and, I would submit, across the United States -- that you can’t bring a gun on campus. And no one does, except the crazed person, the active shooter. There has to be a line of defense,” Judd said.

“There’s no absolutes in life, but I can tell you this: At least two coaches were killed standing in front of and trying to protect kids. Don’t you believe it would be a game-changer if they had a gun to defend the children?”

Students and parents have responded to the mass shooting perpetrated by Nikolas Cruz by calling for stricter guns laws in Florida.

Many participating in the #NeverAgain campaign seem to agree that they don’t want to arm teachers, but want “genuine, lasting change.”

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