Jason Kessler's fight on behalf of Confederate monuments and other white racial causes seems to land him in the middle of assault charges.
In his running campaign to preserve Confederate monuments, Jason Kessler keeps having brushes with the law. Though to hear Kessler tell it, those legal issues only reflect a much broader campaign to oppress white people.
The alt-right blogger had his most recent encounter during Saturday’s protests in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia, over the removal of the pro-Confederacy monument to Robert E. Lee in the local city park. Kessler was one of three men arrested during the protests, charged with disorderly conduct for attempting to incite the crowd with a bullhorn.
One of the other men charged during the protests was arrested after he spat on Kessler. The third was arrested after he was identified as the person who threw a cell phone that struck a police officer, and a concealed knife was found on his person afterward.
Kessler, who in addition to his own blog writes for the white-nationalist website VDare, as well as for The Daily Caller, had just been in court earlier in the week to face sentencing for an assault charge stemming from a confrontation he’d had in January involving the monument’s removal. Kessler, who’d pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault, was sentenced to 50 hours of community service, with jail time suspended.
Combating the removal of the Lee monument has been a pet cause of Kessler’s for months now. The January arrest arose from an incident at a Charlottesville mall, when Kessler was gathering signatures for a petition to recall City Council member Wes Bellamy, an African-American community leader who has been the target of a race-baiting campaign on Kessler’s blog since last fall.
According to testimony at Kessler’s trial in April, he was approached by a man named James Taylor, who asked to read the petition, and then told Kessler he had no intention of signing it and insulted him. Kessler, according to witnesses, responded by punching Taylor in the face.
"The kind of fear, hate, and aggressive manner that it was being conducted by him and I called him out on it," testified Taylor. "So he hit me."
Kessler initially attempted to claim that Taylor had also assaulted him. However, he dropped that claim when surveillance video showed that not to be the case.
In February, Kessler was involved in another assault case after a rally at Lee Park over the monument. A counterprotester named Sara Tansey apparently stole Kessler’s phone as he was live-streaming the event, and was tracked down by an associate of Kessler’s named Joseph Draego, who then punched her in the face to retrieve it.
Tansey filed a misdemeanor assault charge against Draego. Kessler responded by charging Tansey with "unlawfully removing without intent to steal" his phone.
Most of Kessler’s work for VDare and Daily Caller has revolved around his running claim that white men are under assault from multicultural culture (he has also labeled the SPLC a “cancer upon our nation”). An earlier VDare piece features an interview with veteran border militiaman Robert Crooks, who has an extensive background of extremist activity as a Minuteman. He recently rooted on alt-right forces gathered to combat antifascists in Berkeley, California, and described attempts to remove Confederate monuments in New Orleans as “abolishing America.”
Kessler has been especially active in attempting to stop the removal of the Lee monument. In February, he led a rally at the site demanding its preservation.
“What you have to understand is that every generation has its fight. And our fight is this, here and now,” he told the gathering. “Because if the liberals are allowed to start destroying our history, they’ll start with Robert E. Lee, they move on to Thomas Jefferson, they move on to George Washington, and soon the entire basis of our society is going to be wrecked.”
Kessler’s ongoing organizing is largely credited with attracting the attention of Richard Spencer and other alt-right white nationalists who led the first rally on Saturday.
“What brings us together is that we are white, we are a people, we will not be replaced,” Spencer said. “You will not replace us. You will not destroy us,”
Another, larger gathering occurred that evening. During that event, torch-bearing alt-righters chanted: “Russia is our friend,” and “You will not replace us.” When a much larger crowd of counter-protesters appeared, the gathering mostly dispersed. The three arrests occurred during the brief interplay between the two groups.
Afterward, local GOP leaders denounced the white nationalists’ rally, which attracted Kessler’s ire. On his Facebook page, he tried to organize his fellow alt-righters to turn out to the Albemarle County Republicans meeting Wednesday night to let officials know such a repudiation was “unacceptable.”
“We need to show up to make it known that it is okay to be a white person and advocate for our interests,” he wrote. “This ‘it's only history’ stuff is not enough. We are past the point of backing down because they call us ‘racist’. Our civilization is literally crumbling around us and we have to push back while there is still something left to save.
“Ultimately the statues are meant to inspire the spirit of our people and culture. If we cannot stand for that then the statues themselves have become meaningless tokens of a bygone era. We cannot allow them to fall into the hands of Islam, illegal aliens, or any other people that would seek to replace us.”
Kessler later posted a video explaining his behavior, as well as his worldview. “They’re only trying to tear down monuments made to white people,” he said. “They’re trying to rewrite the history books to demonize us and call us racist, this that and the other, when white people aren’t any more racist than any other group. Other groups are advocating for their interest, that’s why you have Black Lives Matter, you know, and you have the Black Congressional Caucus.”
“The media tried to portray the rally as a KKK rally,” he added. “It’s just part of the hyperbolic demonization and fearmongering about white people, where they’re uniquely called racist, when you know that every group under the sun is racist.”