Charlottesville group “Unite the Right” blame government for violence

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Charlottesville group “Unite the Right” blame government for violence

Charlottesville, Virginia – Jason Kessler, the organizer of the “Unite the Right” rally, has disavowed the political violence that resulted in the death of at least one person and the injuries of many others.

“The blame for today’s violence lies primarily with Charlottesville government officials and the police officers who failed to maintain law and order, protect the First Amendment rights of rally participants, and provide for their safety,” Kessler said.  “We coordinated with law enforcement officials with whom we put in place carefully-planned safety arrangements months prior to the event. Despite this, the Charlottesville Police Department and Virginia State Police intentionally departed from the plan. Instead of separating demonstrators and counter-demonstrators, and intervening when violent counter-protesters attacked the participants of the rally, they executed a deliberate plan to wait until we were gathered in a small, barricaded area of the park, at which point they deployed riot police to drive us into the crowd of counter-protesters. Instead of maintaining law and order, the police purposefully created the catastrophe that led to a melee in the streets of Charlottesville and the death of a counter-protester.”

After the Charlottesville government backed out of the safety plan shortly prior to the event, Kessler and interested groups filed suit in federal court and obtained an emergency temporary restraining order requiring the Charlottesville government to permit the rally at Emancipation Park (formerly known as Lee Park). In spite of our possession of a lawful permit and our vindication in federal court, officials declared our assembly unlawful, arrested several of our peaceful demonstrators, and physically drove the rest from the Park.

Photographs have circulated via the Internet of counter-protesters carrying bows and arrows, knives, hammers, baseball bats, and even an improvised flamethrower made with an aerosol can.  Participants of the “Unite the Right” rally were victimized by pepper spray used by counter-protesters.

“Charlottesville violated the federal court’s order by shutting down the rally at Lee Park after left-wing agitators began throwing bricks at us,” Kessler said.  “Our right to free speech was violated when the police officers acquiesced to the unconstitutional ‘heckler’s veto’ raised by our detractors.”

“Due to the police not maintaining order, many people were hurt,” Kessler added.  “The media is not showing who instigated the violence.”

Contact:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, AUGUST 16, 2017

JASON KESSLER, jason@unityandsecurity.org

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist and author. He covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.

The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.

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