Tonight on FRONTLINE: “Documenting Hate: Charlottesville”
One year ago this weekend, white supremacists and neo-Nazis converged on Charlottesville, Virginia. Our correspondent, A.C. Thompson, was there, and as he describes it, the rally that day quickly became a “crime scene.”
For the past year, Thompson, who is an investigative reporter for ProPublica, has been methodically trying to understand that crime: identifying the groups and the people who carried out the racist violence.
Tonight, in Documenting Hate: Charlottesville, we’ll bring you the results of that reporting journey. It’s a disturbing, important work of accountability journalism and skilled filmmaking, undertaken by Thompson, director Richard Rowley, and producer Karim Hajj, who was also there that weekend, camera rolling.
Some truly groundbreaking reporting has gone into this film, which is part of an ongoing partnership with ProPublica. Thompson follows a trail of court records, social media posts and videos to two white supremacist groups who participated in the rally, to an active-duty Marine, and to a PhD candidate and employee of a major defense contractor – both of whom were captured in videos engaging in violence. He also examines the failures of law enforcement to prevent the bloodshed, despite warnings from federal authorities.
The film traces a pattern of extremist violence that led up to Charlottesville. Former FBI agent Mike German tells Thompson he could see it building: “This was not just predictable, but predicted.”
After confronting some of the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who participated in the Charlottesville violence and shedding light on their groups, Thompson says at the end of the film that “this story is far from over.” And he is right. This is just the first film in a series from FRONTLINE and ProPublica on this subject; the next one – America’s New Nazis – will air later this year.