The organizer of last year’s deadly right-wing rally in Charlottesville, Virginia sued the city for the right to host a one-year anniversary event this August. He lost his quest for a permit and dragged his alt-right allies’ names into court documents process.
Virtually no one wanted another Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville; not the city’s residents, who saw one of their neighbors murdered in a car attack during the last rally; nor most the first rally’s participants, many of whom had their neo-Nazi ties exposed after the event. Jason Kessler managed to upset both groups with a doomed campaign for a new rally, after Charlottesville denied his request for an event permit. Over the course of his lawsuit against the city, Kessler ended up surrendering his text messages exposing some of his collaborators’ personal information.
Last week, Kessler abandoned his campaign for an event permit, following a bizarre court appearance during which he and his lawyer arrived 15 minutes into the proceedings. Kessler arrived 30 minutes late.
Throughout the case, which he initiated, Kessler claimed he would expose the Charlottesville government’s bias against him. But the only people Kessler ended up exposing were his associates on the racist right. During the case’s discovery process, Kessler ended up turning over text messages, emails, and chat logs, where he had talked with other Unite the Right participants.Kessler also turned over his Facebook messages, logs from the chat platform Discord, and chats from the encrypted messaging services Signal and Telegram. In some cases, those surrendered messages revealed the personal information of Kessler’s collaborators, which are now part of public court record.
In one case, included in court records, Kessler turned over emails from a person using the email handle “lionofgod1488”. Although Kessler has publicly tried to distance himself and his next rally from obvious neo-Nazis, “1488” is one of the best-known neo-Nazi slogan, a code that refers to the white supremacist “14 words” and to “heil Hitler.”
The emailer, who signed his messages as “Neil,” described himself as a 20-year-old George Mason University student who wanted to participate in the next Unite the Right, which is currently scheduled to take place in Washington, D.C. in August. Neil claimed to have connections within D.C.’s police force. He also offered to transport rally attendees in a church bus loaned by a friend’s father, whom he described as Virginia pastor sympathetic to Unite the Right. Neil’s friend, a U.S. Marine, could drive the church bus, he said.
Neil also offered to bring friends to the rally, but said they didn’t want to contact Kessler directly.
“They’re a little uneasy about having their emails in a database,” he wrote.
And for good reason. Other members of Kessler’s clique found their first and last names on correspondences Kessler turned over in the court case. Among those was an alt-righter who went by “Ludovichi Alibi” online. Kessler appeared to reveal Alibi’s real name, telling an investigator the anonymous man was actually named Louis Bellino from New York.
Kessler also turned over Discord logs and chat text messages that revealed a growing spat between him and racists who disavowed him after his first disastrous rally. Among those was white nationalist Richard Spencer who disavowed Kessler over his tweets calling Charlottesville murder victim Heather Heyer a “a fat, disgusting Communist.”
Kessler later blamed the tweets on Ambien. During his deposition in the case against Charlottesville, Kessler doubled down on the excuse, telling an interviewer that “sometimes I will wake up and food is strewn about or there’s a mess in my room or in the kitchen, my family members will tell me that I was getting up and walking around, and I have no memory of it.”
The Discord logs Kessler surrendered to the city show him griping about Spencer.
“Spencer has been nothing but hostile to me since I’ve known him and he tried to his best to feed me to the media wolves,” he told his dwindling followers. “Not someone I would ever trust again.”
Still, Kessler was friendly to Spencer’s face.
“So what’s up,” Spencer texted him May 27, according to text messages Kessler surrendered in the case.
“We’re planning a rally in both Charlottesville and Washington DC for August 12,” Kessler wrote.
“Let me seriously consider this,” Spencer replied.
Kessler said told the interviewer he and Spencer haven’t spoken since. Spencer previously told Newsweek he does not plan on attending the next Unite the Right.
In a deposition in his case against Charlottesville, Kessler also described himself as being low on funds, with little income besides donations from followers and occasional articles for right-wing publications. He described writing three articles for The Daily Caller, which paid between $120 and $240, he said. One of the articles was coverage of a different Richard Spencer rally in Charlottesville, two months before Unite the Right.
Other than that and payments from followers, he described himself as having no other income except for “donations sporadically from my grandmother.”
The headcount for his forthcoming rally remains unclear. Leaked chat logs show a member of the neo-Nazi group American Vanguard planning to bring his friends and members of the violent skinhead group the Hammerskins, whom Kessler and associates discussed as using as a security force.
But during his deposition, Kessler described a smaller force.
“I plan to have my friends watching my back,” he said.
“Okay,” the questioner asked, “which friends?”
“My friend Dave,” Kessler replied in the singular.