White Nationalist Rally Organizer Sues Charlottesville for Denying Anniversary Rally Permit

The Unite the Right rally in 2017. Photo: Evelyn Hockstein/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Jason Kessler, the white nationalist who organized last summer’s deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, is suing the city for denying his request to hold a one-year anniversary event in August.

Kessler applied for a permit for the anniversary march last November and the city turned him down citing the “danger to public safety” posed by a gathering of angry young racists. It sounds like a reasonable decision given the chaos that erupted in the college town last year, which included the death of Heather Heyer, a counterprotester who was killed when a white nationalist drove his car into a crowd.

In his lawsuit, Kessler blames the city for the violence that engulfed its streets last summer. It’s an assessment that comports with an independent review released in December. Prepared by the law firm of a former U.S. attorney, the report said Charlottesville police allowed the white nationalists and the counterprotesters to clash in the streets in hopes of declaring the assembly unlawful and shutting down the entire rally.

“White civil rights activists cannot allow a precedent to be set where a government can trample on our rights, blame us for it and we take it lying down,” Kessler wrote on his website.

He says in the lawsuit that Charlottesville’s willingness to allow other, bigger rallies proves the city is attempting to silence his speech. “White rights aren’t allowed a platform but white genocide is,” the suit says.

Kessler isn’t just insisting on holding the rally, he wants it to be on the same dates as last year’s. They are “relevant to his political message,” the suit says, and forcing him to hold the rally on another date would “dilute and alter his message.”

Unite the Right Organizer Sues to Hold Anniversary Rally