If there is a second Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, it will be with a much smaller affair with a different cast of characters.
Three militia groups have reached an agreement with the city keeping them from taking part in any future large-scale protest like the deadly rally that took place on August 12, 2017.
The Pennsylvania Light Foot Militia and its leader, Christian Yingling, the New York Light Foot Militia and leader George Curbelo and the III% People’s Militia of Maryland and leader Gary Sigler all signed off on the deals Wednesday.
With the agreements, 11 groups or people have reached deals to stay away from future rallies like Unite the Right. Individual members of the groups are still allowed to take part in events that occur in the city.
Of the 25 defendants named in the lawsuit, Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler, Elliott Kline, who heads Identity Evropa, Matthew Heimbach and his group, the Traditionalist Worker Party, Vanguard America, and Redneck Revolt remain as defendants. Previously, the League of the South, Michael Tubbs, and Spencer Borum; and the National Socialist Movement and Jeff Schoep, reached deals on consent decrees.
“Our city, its businesses, and neighborhoods should not be a battleground for mostly out-of-state organizations to engage in conduct that threatens public safety,” said attorney Lee Livingston of the firm MichieHamlett.
The Institute for Constitutional Protection and Advocacy at Georgetown University sued the groups after the first Unite the Right rally, alleging that they violated Virginia’s laws against paramilitary activities. The suit was filed on behalf of a group of residents and businesses in Charlottesville seeking to prevent a repeat of the violence during the first rally that resulted in the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer.
None of the three groups reaching agreements Wednesday issued public statements about the deals and none returned emails seeking comment from the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Multiple criminal cases stemming from the first Unite the Right rally are still pending, including one against James Alex Fields, Jr., who is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Heyer.
The consent decrees come as Kessler is promising to ramp up a first anniversary rally in Charlottesville.
Kessler, who has been barred from the University of Virginia’s law library, filed for a permit to hold an anniversary rally but sued the city when he was denied.
“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.
But, despite Kessler’s protestations, few white nationalists seem interested in a return to Charlottesville.
Alt-right front man Richard Spencer, who is trying to raise money for an attorney in a federal civil suit stemming from the first Unite the Right rally, and Brad Griffin, the proprietor of the Occidental Dissent website, told Newsweek they were not likely to attend. Alt-right podcaster Mike Peinovich also bowed out, citing the “violent attacks” that white supremacists suffered last year at the hands of “antifa thugs.”
It isn’t clear which groups or people Kessler has recruited for a second attempt at Unite the Right.
But, should it go forward, Kessler may find himself with little company.
Photo credit: AP Images/Andrew Shurtleff