CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WHSV, AP) — The man who organized the 'Unite the Right' rally that ended in deadly violence in Charlottesville is now suing the city over its denial of his request to hold an anniversary event this year.
The Daily Progress reports Jason Kessler filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday. He argues that his First Amendment rights were violated when the city denied his permit application. Charlottesville rejected the application in December, saying the proposed event would present a danger to public safety.
There was also a concern about allocating funds and police resources.
Kessler is a Charlottesville resident who was the primary organizer of the Aug. 12 "Unite the Right" event, which descended into violence. The day ended with three people dead.
In his application, Kessler described the anniversary event as a "rally against government civil rights abuse and failure to follow security plans for political dissidents."
Kessler blamed the City of Charlottesville and the Charlottesville Police Department for the violence last year, saying "They did it to ENABLE the Antifa to attack us while claiming that WE actually screwed things up by not following the security plan."
An independent review of the rally has found that on August 12, white nationalists and counterprotesters converged at an intersection that remained unblocked by barriers or police tape. Officers largely stood and watched as people threw punches, beat each other with clubs, set off smoke bombs and unleashed chemical spray.
Governor Terry McAuliffe and other officials defended the response, saying police had to show restraint because the crowd was heavily armed.
A consultant hired by the state to review the day's events, however, issued a preliminary report that said the city "placed minimal/no restrictions on the demonstrators." It also found that many recommendations the state made to the city ahead of the event "were not accepted." You can learn more about the impact of those recommendations and tactics here.
The third reason given for the denial of the permit was that no person, or entity, is authorized to sign the application for a permit on behalf of a group if there is no person or entity willing to accept responsibility for the group's adherence to the limitations in city event regulations.
A city spokesman couldn't immediately be reached for comment.