Attorneys say lawsuit against white nationalists should be dismissed

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WHSV) — A federal judge heard arguments Thursday from white nationalists and others that a lawsuit against them over last summer's violence in Charlottesville should be dismissed.

Jason Kessler, Richard Spencer, Christopher Cantwell and others say a lawsuit against them that was filed over the 'Unite the Right' rally on August 12 should be dropped.

The suit was filed by a nonprofit group against Kessler, who organized the rally, and other prominent white nationalists and groups that came to Charlottesville on that fateful weekend.

The 10 plaintiffs, all Virginia residents, said they were injured as a result of white nationalist events and claimed the groups planned from the beginning to carry out violence, rather than to gather for a peaceful rally like they officially stated.

In court, attorneys argued that some of the defendants did not participate in any of the violence that resulted, and they should not be blamed for the overall violence after the rally was declared an unlawful assembly.

Extra security could be seen around the courthouse, including members of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security police.

Public access to the area around the courthouse was also blocked off, due to the high-profile nature of the case.

On Aug. 11, white nationalists marched through the University of Virginia campus with torches, chanting racist slurs. The following day, attendees of a rally and counterprotesters clashed violently.

Heather Heyer, a protester, was struck and killed by a car allegedly driven by James Fields, one of the white nationalists present for the rally. Two Virginia State Troopers also died in a helicopter crash that day after monitoring the events in Charlottesville.