If Justin Beights has his way, Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Virginia, won’t be filled with white nationalists, neo-Nazis and other assorted racists the weekend of Aug. 11-12.
In fact, the whitest thing there under Beights’ plan may be a goat or a sheep as part of a petting zoo.
Beights, a real estate developer in the city of 48,000, wants to hold the “Festival of the Schmestival” in the park on the anniversary of the deadly “Unite the Right” rally.
The idea, Beights told the Intelligence Project, is now to deny “Unite the Right” organizer Jason Kessler both the park, which features a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, and the weekend to mark the anniversary of the deadly rally.
“I don’t want him doing the same thing he did last year,” Beights said.
The rally descended into violence, with three people being killed, including two Virginia State Police officers whose helicopter crashed as they monitored the events and 32-year-old paralegal Heather Heyer.
A Maumee, Ohio, man, 21-year-old James Alex Fields Jr., faces first-degree murder charges in state court as well as federal hate crime charges. Authorities say he intentionally plowed his Dodge Charger into a crowd on a narrow street, killing Heyer and injuring others.
Beights said when he initially applied for a permit to use the park, he didn’t realize the weekend was connected to the anniversary of the rally.
But, once he did, denying Kessler the ability to mark the one-year date of the rally, known locally as “A12” and “8/12,” became another reason to hold the festivities.
According to Beight’s event permit application, his festival is intended to be a family-friendly fundraiser that could attract approximately 400 people – the same crowd estimate Kessler gave for his proposed “Unite the Right 2” rally.”
Kessler is suing the city to force them to give him a permit to hold a second rally. A hearing in that lawsuit is scheduled for July 24 in federal court.
He’s also planning to hold a rally at Lafayette Square Park, across the street from the White House on August 12 and pitching it as a “White Civil Rights” rally.
If I haven’t made it clear enough already the Unite the Right rally is not for neo-Nazis and they are not welcome at my events,” Kessler tweeted on July 1. “If you come to my event with a swastika, a weapon, Roman Salutes or any other agitator bullshit you’ll be removed.”
Brian Wheeler, a spokesman for the city of Charlottesville, said Beights initial permit request was denied July 10 and no events have been granted a permit for the park the weekend of August 11 and 12.
“After the lawsuit is resolved, the city will have more information on permitted events,” Wheeler said.
Beights, though, is undeterred.
He’s still planning a public festival featuring a “local celebrity” dunk tank, music and a petting zoo — possibly with a giraffe.
“What would be more perfect than something that is the polar opposite of what occurred last year?” Beights asked.