A court ordered Jason Kessler, the white nationalist behind the deadly rally in Charlottesville last year, to a legally-binding agreement to “actively discourage” organized, armed paramilitary activity at future rallies.
Kessler, 34, who lives in Charlottesville, entered into a consent decree Wednesday with Georgetown Law’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, which sued the organizers and groups behind last August’s rally on behalf of the city and its residents.
The Charlottesville Circuit Court order against Kessler comes as plans are underway to hold a one-year anniversary rally in Charlottesville or Washington, D.C., on August 12.
“These court orders ensure 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, lead counsel for the plaintiffs, in a statement.
Georgetown Law has reached similar agreements with 18 other individuals and groups behind last August’s rally, which left counterprotester Heather Heyer dead and dozens more injured.
Kessler and others are barred from returning to Charlottesville “as part of a unit of two or more persons acting in concert while armed with a firearm, weapon, shield, or any item whose purpose is to inflict bodily harm, at any demonstration, rally, protest, or march,” according to the agreements.
They are, however, still allowed to simply attend demonstrations in Charlottesville and exercise their free speech rights.
But Kessler, a former contributor to the Daily Caller and former member of the far-right men’s movement Proud Boys, is apparently determined to observe the anniversary one way or another. He’s sued the city of Charlottesville because it rejected his permit request to hold an anniversary rally on Aug. 12. He has also requested a permit for an Aug. 12 “White Civil Rights” rally in Washington, D.C.’s Lafayette Square, across the street from the White House, to protest “civil rights abuse in Charlottesville.” Last month, the Park Service approved his request but have not officially granted a permit yet.
In a video posted to YouTube Tuesday, Kessler outlined his plan for Aug. 12, and tried to compare his vision for a “white civil rights” movement to that of Martin Luther King Jr. He also tried to draw a line between the hardcore neo-Nazi groups that showed up in Charlottesville last summer, and the spiffed-up, preppy brand of white supremacy that he embraces.
“As far as optics go, it wasn’t my choice for it to be that way. There was one guy with a swastika flag or whatever. It’s true there were groups there that espoused neo-Nazi beliefs,” Kessler said. “We have a very different plan and agenda this year. And that is not to associate ourselves with extremist elements. This is about white rights and the fact white people need to have representation in this country, just like other groups do.”
“We can’t continue to get sucked into these street fights and things like that,” Kessler said about the D.C. rally. “The most important thing is that you don’t come looking for a fight.”
Cover image: Jason Kessler, one of the main organizers for the Unite The Right Rally in Charlottesville, at a press conference August 13, 2017. (Photo by Shay Horse/NurPhoto via Getty Images)