James Fields Jr., the maniac driver who police say steered his beloved Dodge Challenger into a crowd of peaceful protesters, had been brandishing a shield emblazoned with a white supremacist emblem just hours before the deadly rampage.
The Daily News photographed Fields on the front lines of a volatile rally about 10:30 a.m. Saturday in Charlottesville — flanked by other white men in polo shirts and tan slacks clutching the racially charged black-and-white insignia of the Vanguard America hate group.
Southern Poverty Law Center spokeswoman Rebecca Sturtevant told The News the logo — two white axes — is a variation of imagery used by the white supremacists and Fields’ outfit is standard among the hate group’s ranks.
The Anti-Defamation League depicted Vanguard American as one focused on white identity, but noted that its members have “increasingly demonstrated a neo-Nazi ideology.”
Indeed, Fields’ Facebook page was peppered with similar alt-right and Nazi imagery — such as Hitler’s baby photo; a tourist shot of the Reichstag in Berlin; and cartoon of Pepe the Frog, the anthropomorphic frog hijacked by right-wing groups — before it was deactivated around 11:30 p.m. Saturday.
Fields, of Maumee, Ohio, titled the page “Conscious Ovis Aries,” using the Latin word for sheep. There was also a picture of him posing with the car that authorities say caused so much mayhem in downtown Charlottesville.
Fields’ mother, Samantha Bloom, said she did not know of her son’s apparent involvement in the deadly wreck until late in the day.
She said Fields left his cat with her on Friday and took off for an “alt-right” rally on Friday, according to the Toledo Blade.
She thought the rally “had something to do with Trump.”
“I told him to be careful,” Bloom told the Blade.
She had posted a photo of the two of them on Facebook in August 2015 and noted that her son “just left for boot camp.”
In another photo of Fields, he posed for a selfie while wearing an Army lanyard.
The Army could not immediately confirm if Fields served in the military.
As the images of Fields toting Vanguard America garb circulated, the hate group distanced itself from the suspect and said anyone could use their shields.
“The driver of the vehicle that hit counter protesters today was, in no way, a member of Vanguard America. All our members had been safely evacuated by the time of the incident,” the group posted on Twitter. “The shields seen do not denote membership, nor does the white shirt. The shields were freely handed out to anyone in attendance.”
“All our members are safe and accounted for, with no arrests or charges,” the group added.