Jason Kessler is trending on Twitter once again after he was approved for a permit to hold another “Unite the Right” rally in Washington D.C., one year after Charlottesville protests turned deadly when protesters clashed at the first rally.
Kessler, 34, was the primary organizer of the original “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which resulted in the death of Heather Heyer after a car was driven into a crowd of counter-protestors.
Kessler was originally denied the permit to hold a rally this year, but was approved by the National Park Service Friday. This years’ rally will be held in Washington D.C., near the White House. Here’s what you need to know about Kessler:
1. Kessler Blamed Last Year’s Violence on Charlottesville Police, Claiming the Government and Law Enforcement “Failed to Maintain Law & Order”
On August 12, 2017, Heather Heyer was killed and another 19 people were injured when a car allegedly driven by James Alex Fields Jr. sped into a large group of people counter protesting the white nationalist rally.
Hours after the incident occurred, Kessler chimed in and denounced the act, adding that the suspect “did the wrong thing” and that he was “saddened” that so many people were hurt. He blamed Charlottesville police for the slow response to violence at the rally, and claimed they “failed to maintain law and order.”
“We networked with law enforcement officials and safety arrangements were made months ago, but despite this, the Charlottesville Police Department not only failed to act per the plan but exacerbated the violence: they did not separate the demonstrators and counter-demonstrators, they were poorly underequipped for the situation, they stood idly by when violent counter-protesters attacked the participants of the rally and then they forced our demonstrators out of Lee Park and into a melee with Antifa.”
Read Kessler’s full statement below:
2. Kessler Says This Years’ Rally Will Be a “White Civil Rights Rally” to Protest Civil Rights Injustices by Law Enforcement
Kessler applied for a permit to hold another rally in Charlottesville in August 2018, on the anniversary of the first march. However, in December 2017, the city of Charlottesville denied the permit, writing that Kessler’s application “likely underestimates the number of participants” and that “no reasonable allocation of city funds or resources can guarantee that event participants will be free of any ‘threat of violence.'”
Last June Kessler’s application for a “White Civil Rights Rally” was finally approved for August 11 and 12 by the US National Park Service, sparking anger and controversy across the country.
Kessler has previously claimed that the upcoming event marking the 1-year anniversary of the rally is being held to protest alleged civil rights abuses by local law enforcement. Kessler also announced that this years’ rally would be a “white civil rights rally,” which will begin with a march at 5 p.m. and continue with speakers in Lafayette Square from 5:30 to 7:30.
“White people should be able to have the same rights as other groups,” he said, referencing what he sees as civil rights abuses by the Charlottesville government against white nationalist demonstrators, and against white people more generally.
3. Counterprotsts are Planned Directly Across from the Unite the Right Rally, With Over a Thousand Anti-Fascists Planning to Attend
Over a thousand counterprotesters will be at the rally Saturday, including many far-left activists such as Black Lives Matter, socialist groups, anarchist groups, and anti-fascists. Many anti-fascists believe that the ideology behind protests like Kessler’s must be met with active, even physical, confrontation.
“Anti-fascists are willing to take steps that most people aren’t,” said Scott Crow, an author, spokesman for Agency, an anarchist media collective, and former anti-fascist organizer, according to USA Today.
Counterprotests will begin with a 2:00 p.m. rally in Freedom Plaza. They will then proceed to Lafayette Square, where they’ve obtained permits to demonstrate on the north side, face-to-face with Kessler’s “Unite the Right” rally. The Metropolitan Police Department Tuesday issued a traffic advisory for road closures on Sunday due to “first amendment activities.”
Organizers say they expect about 1,000 counterprotesters, and the white nationalists could be vastly outnumbered. Kessler’s permit only allows 400 protesters to demonstrate at Lafayette Park, and he believes there will be less UTR protesters this year anyway, due to the violence that broke out at last year’s rally and the fact that many of his supporters are worried about their safety.
4. Kessler Is a Blogger & Journalist & Has Written About Race-Motivated Topics
Kessler runs a blog on his website, JasonKessler.net where he shares his opinions of topical issues taking place in America, often involving civil rights, Antifa, Charlottesville, and other issues involving politics in the U.S.
In the “About Me” section of his blog, Kessler describes himself as a “journalist, activist and author” that “organized the largest pro-white rally of the century.” He got his bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia in 2009.
In May, the city of New Orleans was continuing its plan to remove four Confederate monuments, and construction workers had worked to take them down and cart them away. Kessler wrote about increased violence in the city that has come with removing the monuments. He was critical of groups such as Antifa vandalizing some of the monuments, noting some people referred to supporters of the monuments as “Nazi scum.”
5. Kessler Has Made Attempts to Unseat Charlottesville’s Only Black City Councilman, Wes Bellamy
Kessler started a movement to try and remove Wes Bellamy, a black city councilman in Charlottesville who’s also the vice mayor of the city, from office. He did so by starting a petition on StandUnited.org, requesting Bellamy step down because of “recently revealed racist and pro-rape comments.” A month earlier, he published an expose on Bellamy’s comments.
“We will not accept an anti-white racist who looks down on “little white men”, who agrees “it aint rape if she moans,” who “hates blacks who talk white” and calls women “lying c*nts,” Kessler wrote in the petition’s description. “He is an unfit representative for our city and the values we uphold. He must step down or be removed immediately.”
In a post to his blog one day earlier, Kessler also accused Bellamy of stealing donation money from organizations in Charlottesville.
“He has taken money collected for candles for candle light vigils and disappeared with the money and without giving any candles. He has shown up at activists’ homes (without warning) who don’t care to work with him demanding that they do and discrediting his white cohorts on city council as racists to persuade them to work with him,” Kessler said in the post.
On one occasion, Kessler confronted Bellamy at a town hall meeting.