If Jason Kessler has ‘UTR2' in Charlottesville, he won’t be armed

If racist "alt-right" organizer Jason Kessler goes through with a second “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, he’ll be legally barred from being armed during any organized protests.

Kessler and the group Redneck Revolt reached a settlement with the city of Charlottesville on Thursday, barring them from taking part in any armed protest or demonstrations in the city of 48,000.

The settlement comes just days after a state judge ruled a lawsuit brought by city officials and residents could go forward under Virginia’s anti-paramilitary activities laws. Kessler and Redneck Revolt were the last of 25 defendants in the suit to reach a settlement.

The Georgetown Law’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection filed the suit in October 2017, previously reaching agreements with League of the South, former Traditionalist Worker Party chief Matthew Heimbach and the National Socialist Movement, among others, to stop them from taking part in future armed demonstrations.

City officials and residents sought an injunction to stop the groups who descended on the city a year ago and took part in what became a violent, deadly weekend from repeating their activities a year later.

The state lawsuit relied on Virginia state laws that require all displays of military power to be under strict subordination to civil authorities and that prohibit private paramilitary activity.

“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, senior litigator at Georgetown Law’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, lead counsel for plaintiffs in the lawsuit.  

Kessler, who posts frequently to Twitter and the alt-right social media sight Gab, did not immediately offer thoughts on the settlement Thursday afternoon.

Kessler, a Charlottesville resident, is also involved in a federal civil lawsuit seeking to force the city to grant him a permit to use Emancipation Park, the epicenter of 2017’s violent rally, again this year. A hearing in that case is scheduled for July 24.

It is unclear if the settlement in state court will impact Kessler’s claims in the federal lawsuit.

City spokesman Brian Wheeler told the Southern Poverty Law Center that no permits have been granted for Emancipation Park for the August 11 and 12 weekend and no decisions about the use of the park that weekend will be made until after the July 24 hearing.

“After the lawsuit is resolved, the City will have more information on permitted events,” Wheeler said.

The consent decree signed by Kessler requires that, in the event of any future protest in Charlottesville, he “agrees to use his best efforts to ensure” that attendees do not coordinate while armed in any way.

The agreement outlines a variety of ways in which Kessler must communicate that message, including Facebook posts, podcasts, signs and announcements.

The first “Unite the Right” rally was billed as a unification of the American white nationalist movement. Instead, it devolved into a series of violent confrontations between alt-right adherents, racists, neo-Nazis and protestors.

Before the weekend of August 11 and 12, 2017, was over, dozens of arrests were made and 21-year-old James Alex Fields, Jr., of Maumee, Ohio, was arrested.

Officials said Fields intentionally rammed his Dodge Charger into a crowd of protestors on a narrow street, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer in the process.

Fields has also been charged federally with more than two dozen hate crimes and faces a potential death sentence if convicted in that case.

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