Unite the Right Organizers Are Blaming Heather Heyer's Death On Cops

In the days since Jason Kessler’s Unite the Right (UTR) rally ended in bloodshed, various right wing propagandists have attempted to shift blame by smearing the City of Charlottesville, the Charlottesville Police Department (CPD) and Virginia State Police as being responsible for the death of one counter-protester and two police officers. 

The details of what city and state officials promised or what concessions they owed Kessler and the other UTR organizers in advance of a massive rally and its subsequent civil unrest is still being hotly contested and will likely wind up in court. CPD has maintained that their tepid response to the utter chaos on the streets that day was not the result of a stand-down order.

Regardless of the CPD’s non-intervention in the violence on display at UTR, the subsequent stroke of a counter-protester involved in the brawls, two accidental deaths of police helicopter pilots, numerous injuries sustained throughout the weekend and most importantly the tragic death of Heather Heyer, the carnage in Charlottesville was far from unexpected.

Tensions in the city continued to mount in preparation for the Charlottesville’s third white nationalist rally in as many months as a nervous nation looked on. Each of those disastrous outcomes has its beginnings in the series of calls Kessler coordinated in the run-up to the Charlottesville rally.

A post titled “The Battle of Charlottesville” by “Robert Bruce” on the Faith and Heritage website — apparently authored by Duke University graduate student and LOS member Brent Fallin — attempts to asserts that “[r]oughly a thousand members of the Alt-Right, various nationalist organizations, and independent conservative free speech advocates,” came to Charlottesville with no desire to seek “space to destroy.”

Space to destroy: that is truly the ultimate goal of the radical left in this country. They cannot build anything. Like the thief in our Lord’s parable, all these people know how to do is steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). They are barbarians at the gates of our civilization.

These comments are directly contradicted by an influential racist “alt-right” figure, Mike “Enoch” Peinovich of “The Right Stuff” podcast, who bragged that Steve Bannon, at that point still in the White House, was giving the alt-right “space to destroy.”

The post-action response from UTR’s organizers has been mixed. Amidst the backbiting, infighting, and denunciations, several have issued equivocating language to express regret for Heather Heyer’s death. Planned-UTR headliner Richard Spencer magnanimously ceded that Heyer “did nothing wrong.”

Some of the most high-profile members are likely attempting to distance themselves from the violent implications of their pre-Charlottesville rhetoric after Christopher Cantwell, another would-be-UTR-headliner, was arrested on felony charges in relation to footage of him macing a counter-protester in the face.

Richard Spencer retreats from Charlottesville's Unite the Right rally on August 12.
Richard Spencer retreats from Charlottesville's Unite the Right rally on August 12.

Regarding Heyer’s death, Cantwell indicated that “a lot more people are going to die before we’re done here.”

Jason Kessler has staked a similar course, maintaining that his actions and efforts in planning UTR were honorable and aboveboard. His own words in the event planning notwithstanding, Kessler has begun a flailing attempt to shift blame on UTR’s disastrous outcome to other members of the far right, counter-protesters and above all the CPD.

Jason Kessler
Jason Kessler

In a since-deleted tweet, Kessler referred to Heyer as a “fat disgusting communist,” before disavowing the tweet as the combined result of stress, alcohol and pills. Kessler then doubled down and repudiated Spencer, drawing criticism in turn from Tim “Baked Alaska” Gionet, who has tried to recast the alt-right as a movement with “no place … for people who are advocating violence & spewing actual racial hatred.”

Kessler himself has been castigated by many on the right amid revelations that he started his career in politics left-of-center, with some alleging that Kessler is in fact a left-wing plant or agent provocateur. Kessler has acknowledged the former point as true while simultaneously decrying it and the latter as slurs propagated by the “SPLC and the Alt-Light.”

Jason Kessler’s twitter profile, @TheMadDimension, has issued a flurry of tweets since August 12 implicating Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer, City Manager Maurice Jones and Chief Al Thomas as “liars & co-conspirators.”

While this is consistent with Kessler’s rise to infamy amidst his attempts to dislodge Charlottesville’s only black city-councilman Wes Bellamy, Kessler has not been alone in attempting to shield the alt-right from the consequences of its actions in Charlottesville by blaming authorities, particularly police.

In Robert Bruce/Brent Fallin’s estimation, “The police never had any intention of protecting us, ensuring our ability to peacefully exercise our First Amendment rights, or maintaining order at all. They had been ordered to stand down. We were on our own.”

Many on the internet have amplified this position:

Ike Baker, the Kentucky League of the South’s (LOS) Southern Defense Force (SDF) commander, shared the following post on Facebook in the aftermath of the rally:

Any and all badge worshipping bootlicking cop fanboys & girls, get the hell off my list. This is it. The time for choosing is here.

Martin Borum, an officer in the Florida League of the South and father to Baker’s chairman Spencer Borum, stated:

There is a narrative starting up on Fox News about why Law Enforcement around the Country is tolerating the destruction of Confederate, Southern and Founder monuments … Well the answer here is simple … They are COWARDS … A disgrace to the Badge … A succubus of taxpayer funds unwilling to stand the ground. COWARDS.

The marked anti-police sentiments from the League stand in sharp contrast to LOS president Michael Hill’s prediction some months ago at the founding of the SDF. Back then, he prophesized that law enforcement agencies would “find it necessary to “deputize” private citizens for that purpose,” of “protect[ing] our own families and friends, our property, and our liberty from leftist chaos.”

Brad Griffin, an Alabama native and the LOS’s newly minted “PR Chief,” posted on his Occidental Dissent blog that “the events that unfolded in Charlottesville this weekend have a very simple explanation.”

Brad Griffin (left) with William Flowers.
Brad Griffin at an April 18, 2017 rally at Auburn University.

In Griffin’s estimation, “the police in Charlottesville stood down and didn’t do their jobs, and deliberately allowed anarchy to reign in the streets. They persuaded us to come to Lee Park unarmed for our peaceful event while secretly ceding control of the streets to violent Antifa.”

A group of “Patriots” — composed of members of American Warrior Revolution, The Hiwaymen, Florida III% United Patriots and III% Peacekeepers — operating under the banner of 1Team1Fight_Unity filmed a YouTube video to provide their account of what happened:

The cops caused this shit. They set the shit up for it to take place. They funneled us into a … they set a trap.

Ace Baker, the leader of American Warrior Revolution, continued with this admonition to police:

We are the fourth branch of government, the “we the people” branch, the branch of government that the government doesn’t tell you about … we came here to respect law enforcement and the military and they fucked us.

The joinder of Ace Baker and Brad Griffin over their treatment by police seems to be the only unity on the right that emerged from Charlottesville. Just weeks before, after Florida LOS members feuded with Baker and his crew, Griffin crowed online over allegations of Baker’s extramarital affairs.

A post shared on Facebook by an apparent member of LOS-affiliate Identity Dixie contained the following excerpt:

The VSP is part of the Police State, you backed a Jewish funded terrorist organization. You laughed while you supported a Jew/Greek shipping tycoon that makes a fortune creating problems in countries like immigration and racial conflict, so he can buy their currency low and sell high, you helped him. I watched a sunset tonight over a green field with my dog, a slow peaceful walk reflecting over the weekend. Then I took a deep breath of sweet Dixie air and was grateful to be alive. Before I was a guy with a computer, and I was never a national socialist, but now I am a soldier, and those national socialists are fine by me, we'll sort out the fine points later. We tried to cooperate with LE, do it the right way, but you betrayed our trust. The media cabal will paint us as cowards, and they can leave the courage in the editing suite, but you saw us fighting on those streets, do you doubt the power of our resolve? Young men coming together for a single purpose. Thank you for the motivation to keep lifting, training, running, equipping, educating, organizing. The bag of charred bones and teeth of those two race traitors is your parting gift from the rest of us white men everywhere who are denied the right to exist. Shine your jackboots and adorn yourself with the bobbles of official tyranny. Line up and salute the ashtray destined for the eternal dirt nap. Get a good look at the kids weeping, the empty eyes of the widow. Say, "They were good men, they did it for Hymie" Give momma a one of those flags that for 50 years hasn't represented the people of the race that made it possible. We are their descendants, and we will see you again in Charlottesville.

As evidenced by that post, among those on the right blaming the Virginia State Police and CPD for UTR’s violent implosion, the answer for this shift in police relations is simple.

Michael Hill took to Facebook last Tuesday to share a post on Occidental Observer, which offers an even simpler not-so-simple explanation than Griffin’s.

From “How the Jews Won The Battle of Charlottesville:”

The most important aspect of the ‘Unite the Right’ rally was that it wasn’t allowed to go ahead. In this regard, we are supposed to believe that local police botched the placement of opposing factions, and then had a knee-jerk reaction to the resultant early disturbances, subsequently (and conveniently) declaring a state of emergency and ending the rally before it began. The apparent surprise of leading Alt Right figures to this forced abortion was puzzling to me, not least because the actions of Charlottesville police were entirely predictable in light of emerging patterns of Jewish-orchestrated law enforcement indoctrination, and the fact that the expression of White Identitarian ideas are on course to be exiled beyond the bounds of legal protection…

The involvement of Jewish activist organizations in the politicization and weaponization of law enforcement, in the form of ‘race training,’ is little discussed in our circles, but it is well-attested.

Perhaps the most concise summation of these views can be found in a blog penned by Traditionalist Worker Party founder Matthew Heimbach’s father-in-law, Matt Parrott.

In a post laden with echo quotes, assertions about deep state meddling in the alt-right and anti-cop sentiment, Parrott states, “Police officers are a threat, and protecting ourselves from violence is our own challenge alone.”

Internet conspiracy theories about George Soros, the Jews and Jason Kessler’s work for the “Deep State” aside, what remains clear is that there was ample warning that events in Charlottesville were likely to end with bloodshed.

Kessler and company seem to have settled on the dubious stance that a permit to protest the removal of statues legally bound police to beckon to their every whim in organizing the rally. When that complicity was not forthcoming, they pummeled their way through crowds of protesters, bowling over everyone in their direct path, later claiming that a federal court injunction against changing the rally’s venue effectively denied counter-protesters the same right to free speech that UTR proponents have touted as a shield for their use of excessive force.

The far right has not been alone in its criticism of the police response on display in Charlottesville during UTR. Conservative, mainstream and left-wing platforms have commented extensively on authorities’ inaction, particularly after footage surfaced of a Baltimore-based Imperial Wizard of the Confederate White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan firing his gun at a counter-protester. That man, Richard Wilson Preson, has been arrested and charged with discharging a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school.

Imperial Wizard of the Confederate White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Richard Preston, was arrested at Unite the Right for discharging a firearm.
Imperial Wizard of the Confederate White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Richard Preston, was arrested at Unite the Right for discharging a firearm.

The question of whether law enforcement adequately provided for public safety on August 12 is predicated on the assumption that law enforcement had adequate information on the total influx of protesters to gauge the resources that would have to be brought to bear. Based on the numbers that did turn out, it seems clear that Emancipation Park and the crowded streets surrounding it were a less than suitable venue for a rally of that size. The city’s proposed alternative venue could have mitigated some of the worst violence brought to bear by the day’s events.

Whatever role the CPD’s stand-down order played in the violence at Unite the Right, Jason Kessler and company cannot so easily wash their hands of their own culpability. 

Comments, suggestions or tips? Send them to HWeditor@splcenter.org and follow us on Twitter @Hatewatch.