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.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, AUGUST 16, 2017
JASON KESSLER, firstname.lastname@example.org
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