Charlottesville group protesting against subpoenas from grand jury

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WDBJ7) -- A community activist group is speaking out on claims that the federal government is bullying survivors of the August 12th car attack in Charlottesville.

(WDBJ7)

The group called Solidarity C-ville protested outside the federal court house on Wednesday.

The group says several of its members have been subpoenaed to testify in front of a grand jury, despite already turning over evidence.

They say they're concerned that their testimonies could potentially lead to charges against themselves.

The protesters are calling this a "witch hunt" and say the true intentions are unknown due to the secretive nature of grand juries.

"Being in Charlottesville is gut wrenchingly hard. Sometimes there is no way to avoid driving by the street where a Nazi tried to kill me,” Ibby Han read from a statement from one of the 35 people injured when a car plowed into a group of demonstrators on the Charlottesville mall August 12th.

Han says the person who wrote the statement and others, like Star Peterson, are being victimized a second time by the Federal government. "I was already run over by a car, I will not be bullied by the federal government,” said Peterson speaking to the group of protesters.

Peterson says she's cooperated with the investigation and now feels targeted by a recent subpoena. "This is not about putting away the person who ran us over. That evidence has all been given, I've signed off my medical records,” said Peterson. “This is about bullying activists.”

The group says since November 27, a number of federal grand jury subpoenas have been served to activists who were injured in the car attack.

Lynchburg Commonwealth's Attorney Mike Doucette says the U.S. Attorney in Charlottesville is using the grand jury to bring more serious charges against James Alex Fields, the man accused of carrying out the car attack.

Without evidence from grand jury testimony, Doucette says justice for victims of the car attack may not be possible. "A grand jury subpoena or summons is not an RSVP … it's a court order,” he added. "If you refuse a grand jury subpoena, you refuse to seek justice through the courts, that's anarchy."

The group says at least one subpoena has been rescinded by the U.S. Attorney's Office because the activist refused to talk to the grand jury.

Fields, the man accused of ramming a car into a group of counterprotesters at the "Unite the Right" rally, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer, will make his next court appearance on Thursday at the Charlottesville Circuit Court.

He is facing a second-degree murder, as well as three counts of malicious wounding and hit and run.