Four years after Charlottesville violence, Unite the Right organizers face legal consequences – people’s world


On August 12, 2017, a vehicle entered a group of protesters demonstrating against a neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. A trial begins in Charlottesville, Virginia to determine whether the white supremacists who planned the so-called “Unite the Right’rally will be held civilly responsible for the violence they initiated.” | Ryan M. Kelly / Daily Progress via AP

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia – On August 11-12, 2017, the terror of white supremacy transformed Charlottesville from a quiet college town, whose most rowdy events were college basketball games, into a gruesome scene reminiscent of the start of the 1900s.

Neo-Nazis were in town for the Unite the Right (UTR) rally to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate traitor Robert E. Lee. On August 11, they unexpectedly gathered on the University of Virginia campus with tiki torches chanting Nazi and white supremacist slogans. They walked to a synagogue and surrounded it, carrying semi-automatic weapons and chanting “Sieg Heil”. Online discussions have revealed threats to “set these Jewish monsters ablaze,” Amy Spitalnick, executive director of Integrity First for America (IFA), told a Zoom conference on Oct. 21.

On October 11, 2017, residents of Charlottesville affected by the attack filed a complaint against UTR organizers and groups for plotting and provoking the violence on August 11 and 12. IFA represents complainants and opening statements in the Sines vs. Kessler trials took place on October 28.

“[This all] culminated in the car attack that killed Heather Heyer and injured so many others, including several of our plaintiffs, ”said Spitalnick. “It was a meticulously planned plot to attack people,” fueled by racism, anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred. “We have already established this as a fact against two key defendants,” she said.

“White nationalists said it was the most successful day in their history because there was some success in how they had not been reprimanded,” said Rabbi Sharon Brous, who co -organized the IFA Zoom event. Few of the UFT participants have faced criminal charges, and this civil case aims to bring them to justice.

A conspiracy is an agreement between two or more people to commit an illegal act, with the intention of achieving the objective of the agreement. Most US jurisdictions also require proof of an overt act aimed at furthering the conspiracy.

The IFA uses the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 as the basis for their prosecution. The law was initially intended to prosecute those who interfere with the government, obstruct justice, or deny rights to equal protection under the law. The Sines vs. Kessler The lawsuit states that the defendants conspired to violate the plaintiff’s civil rights through violence and intimidation in front of the UTR. The plaintiffs also seek damages for the psychological and physical trauma caused by the violence and the car attack that injured scores of people and killed Heyer.

“First and foremost, this case concerns justice for our plaintiffs and the accountability of the defendants. This case is the only attempt to take the lead in this conspiracy and hold them accountable, ”Spitalnick said.

The use of litigation and judgments to bankrupt, disrupt and dismantle similar organizations and their leaders has a long history. Most famous, in 1984, an Alabama jury awarded damages to the family of Michael Donald, who was murdered by members of the KKK. The sanction put the KKK into bankruptcy. And the Charlottesville defendants, including Richard Spencer, admitted the case was crippling them financially, and they avoided returning to Charlottesville in 2018 because “they didn’t want to be prosecuted again.”

For residents, the events of August 2017 are very much alive. The Lee statue was about a three-minute walk from where a white supremacist crashed into Heyer and other UTR counter-protesters with his car. Charlottesville eventually removed the statue on July 10, even though city council voted to remove it on February 6, 2017. Virginia removed a giant statue of Lee on September 8 in Richmond, the state capital, 130 years after it was installed .

Since the white supremacist rally, local journalist and activist Molly Conger has reported independently on everything from protests to city council meetings on Twitter. (@socialistdogmom). C-VILLE Weekly removed one of its columns in 2019 that exhibited an officer from the Charlottesville Police Department posing with a white supremacist at UTR.

Conger gained notoriety for his knowledge of UTR. Right-wing media experts defending violence at the UTR by accusing “Antifa” have targeted Conger and other activists, journalists and residents. The white supremacist defense team uses the same tactics. “Right-wing rallies only become violent when leftists attack,” Christopher Cantwell told the court.

Lawyers asked potential jurors for their opinions on Antifa, the Black Lives Matter movement, racism and discrimination. Presiding Judge Norman K. Moon authorized the selection of jurors who declared themselves “anti-Antifa”, ignoring the plaintiffs’ protests. Defense lawyers oppose the accused being labeled racists or fascists “until it has been proven in court.”

Apparently, the ideal lawyer is someone who can remain objective while hearing evidence that the defendants conspired to violate the plaintiff’s civil rights through violence while acknowledging that the defendants are self-proclaimed white supremacists, anti-Semites, neo-Jews. Nazis and neo-Confederates.

Christopher Cantwell of New Hampshire. | Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail via AP

On October 25, the plaintiffs filed a petition to separate Cantwell, commonly known as “The Crying Nazi,” after a video of him surfaced crying over the news that an arrest warrant was issued for him. his arrest. Although he is currently imprisoned in a communications management unit (a dungeon usually reserved for terrorists) for extortion, Cantwell has chosen to represent himself. It has a history of violent outbursts and feuds with other white supremacists.

Infighting between the defendants surfaced after several asked Judge Moon to tell the jury that a defendant, Jason Kessler, was responsible for obtaining the license for the UTR. Observers see the demand as an effort to prove that Kessler was the primary organizer of the UTR and, therefore, responsible for the violence and death. The other defendants are trying to part ways with Kessler, much like they did after his infamous tweet celebrating Heyer’s death in 2017, bragging that it was “recovery time.” However, the testimony of an expert IFA witness could still tie them all to the plot.

For more information on the case, see the Integrity First for America web page. Readers can find the full court proceedings here, with daily updates being posted. on Twitter by Molly Conger.


Jaume Plumb-Planas

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