Jason Kessler, the organizer of last summer’s deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, has entered an agreement with the city intended to prevent any “private paramilitary activity” from happening in town on the event’s anniversary next month.
Mr. Kessler on Wednesday entered a consent decree in Charlottesville Circuit Court, resolving a lawsuit brought last year against more than a dozen individuals and organizations involved in “Unite the Right,” an Aug. 12 demonstration that infamously descended into chaos when armed attendees clashed with counterprotesters.
Led by Georgetown Law’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection (ICAP), the lawsuit accused co-defendants including Mr. Kessler, a 34-year-old local white nationalist activist, of illegally conducting paramilitary activity in violation of Virginia state law by plotting to bring weapons and shields to last year’s event.
Mr. Kessler has agreed not to return to Charlottesville “as part of a unit of two or more persons acting in concert while armed with a firearm, weapon, shield, or any item whose purpose is to inflict bodily harm, at any demonstration, rally, protest, or march,” ICAP said Thursday, making him the last of 19 defendants to enter a consent decree in the case and likely paving the way for it’s conclusion, albeit weeks before Charlottesville risks witnessing a second “Unite the Right.”
“Should Kessler hold an anniversary rally in Charlottesville on August 12, as he has vowed to do, these court orders ensure that he and other participants will not repeat the organized and intimidating displays of paramilitary power that led to chaos, fear and violent confrontations in the city streets last year,” said Mary McCord, a lead counsel for the plaintiffs.
Mr. Kessler told The Washington Times that entering the decree “was a purely tactical decision.”
Billed as a protest held in support of a Confederate status, litigation and leaks later revealed that “Unite the Right” participants plotted in advance to equip themselves against counterprotesters with weapons and shields. Clashes erupted before the event officially began, and police later linked the chaos to the death of a counterprotester and two law enforcement officials killed in a helicopter crash.
ICAP sued in October in an effort to keep “Unite the Right” participants from returning to Charlottesville in groups and with weapons, and Circuit Court Judge Richard E. Moore agreed Monday to let that the case go to trial, setting the stage for Wednesday’s consent order.
Mr. Kessler, on his part, sued Charlottesville in March after the city denied his permit to hold a “Unite the Right 2” next month at the site of last year’s rally. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for July 24 in Charlottesville federal court, less than three week’s before the proposed event.
Mr. Kessler previously said he will hold a “white civil rights rally” outside the White House next month if he loses in Charlottesville federal court. A permit for that event is currently pending with the U.S. National Park Service.
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