Convictions on both sides out of Lee statue rally
A confrontation over a cellphone at a rally around Charlottesville's Robert E. Lee statue by former Republican governor candidate Corey Stewart resulted in convictions for both a left-wing protester and a man who confronted her.
News outlets report that 29-year-old Sara Michel Tansey was convicted of destruction of property for taking the cellphone of right-wing activist Jason Kessler, who was using the phone to livestream a feed of the February campaign rally.
Sixty-five-year-old Joseph Draego was convicted of assault for using excessive force in retrieving the cellphone for Kessler.
Draego, a self-described libertarian who says he is not part of the so-called Alt-Right, denied striking her, but Charlottesville General District Court Judge Bob Downer found him guilty of misdemeanor assault.
"Clearly, I feel like a great injustice has occurred," Draego said after the hearing. "I also know that the political environment in our nation is poisoned. We have two distinct groups that hate each other, and so for me, someone of my political ilk, to come here to Charlottesville and expect to get justice is a hard row to hoe. It's not so easy."
Both were convicted Monday in Charlottesville General District Court. Tansey received a $50 fine, which was suspended, plus court costs. Draego received a $100 fine, plus court costs.
Draego denied using excessive force at his hearing and has appealed his conviction to circuit court.