Organizers of a deadly 2017 white supremacist rally had “private funding,” allowing at least one to make hate a “full-time” job, exhibits in a bombshell lawsuit suggest.
In August 2017, a coalition of far-right figures marched on Charlottesville, Virginia, during “Unite The Right,” a two-day fascist festival. The event ended in catastrophe when a neo-Nazi drove his car into a crowd of counter-demonstrators, murdering one and injuring others. Survivors of the attack filed a sweeping lawsuit (Sines v. Kessler) against Unite The Right’s organizers, who have attempted to distance themselves from the event’s bloodshed. But a tranche of more than new 3,000 exhibits, entered by plaintiffs last week, suggest that Unite The Right’s organizers collaborated closely on the event, even running their own “nonprofit” groups for funding.
Sines v. Kessler is scheduled to go to trial next month. An exhibit list filed last week includes descriptions of documents, but not the full text of the evidence. The list includes more than 3,000 exhibits, including text messages between white supremacist leaders, legal documents from far-right groups, and medical documents from car attack victims (following the deadly attack, figures on the right launched conspiracy theories about the victims’ injuries). Integrity First for America, the nonprofit group leading the lawsuit, declined to comment on the exhibits.
Defendants in the suit have previously attempted to downplay their culpability in Unite The Right’s chaos, describing the rally as loosely organized and not intentionally violent. But text messages to and from defendant Elliott Kline, a key Unite The Right organizer, suggest significant coordination and funding.
In one text message, Kline appears to describe a breakup that resulted from his involvement with white supremacist groups. In the message, he describes an upcoming, well-paid job with the white supremacist group Identity Evropa.
“I’m about to double down in the movement harder than i already have,” Kline wrote. “I asked her if she thought it was a good idea. She was excited. And now she wants out. It’s too late for me to turn it down now. Half the reason I took the opportunity was because I knew I'd be able to support her with it. It’s secret but I'm taking over IE [Identity Evropa] from nathan and I'm going to be paid from private donors some good money.”
Although the preview of the exhibit does not include a timestamp, the conversation appears to have taken place before, or in the days immediately following Unite The Right. Kline (who went by the pseudonym “Eli Mosely” at the time of Unite The Right), took over Identity Evropa from its founder, Nathan Damigo, two weeks after the deadly rally.
An attorney for Damigo and the now-defunct Identity Evropa did not return a request for comment. Kline did not return a request for comment, and does not appear to have an attorney after his lawyers dropped him in 2020 for his “non-responsive silence” with them.
Other texts to and from Kline in the exhibit list suggest a flow of money into the white supremacist movement, particularly through Identity Evropa.
During a conversation that appeared to take place while Unite The Right was in its planning stages, Damigo texted Kline that “I am going to move forward tomorrow to get you on the payroll.”
In one message that appeared to take place in a conversation after Unite The Right, Kline claimed that “Nathan Damigo is currently living in upstate New York illegally jumping the border to visit his GF parents and GF. The parents are scared they'd get doxed because they are supporters and help fund IE from Canada.”
Identity Evropa was, at the time, a registered nonprofit in California. (The group is now defunct and the incorporation is dissolved.) In chat logs previously leaked by the media group Unicorn Riot, Identity Evropa members were seen using that nonprofit to solicit donations for their legal fund to combat lawsuits like Sines v. Kessler. Exhibits in Sines v. Kessler also suggest the group attempted to prevent leaks with at least one mutual nondisclosure agreement, between Kline and Damigo. (Damigo did not return requests for comment.)
Other exhibits suggest the pay structure was broader than Identity Evropa. During a conversation that appeared to take place before the rally, white supremacist Richard Spencer told Kline that “also, we’re going to pay you.” (Spencer did not return a request for comment.)
During the rally planning process, Kline also texted the event’s main organizer, Jason Kessler that “You and I should get used to speaking daily now. Now that this is my full time job I’ll be much more available to you.” Reached for comment, Kessler did not comment on specific text messages included in the exhibits, but instead accused counter-demonstrators of violence.
Though rally organizers have claimed no personal familiarity with James Fields, the neo-Nazi who murdered a woman with a car, photographs from the rally show Fields standing alongside other prominent extremists, including Kline. The Sines v. Kessler exhibits also include an Instagram post in which someone advocates killing protesters with a car. Although the post’s context is unclear from the exhibit list, it is listed in the middle of a series of documents obtained from or related to Fields.
Kessler, for his part, appeared to privately acknowledge before Unite The Right that the event would largely attract neo-Nazis.
While discussing a statement from a member of the far-right group the Proud Boys, Kessler told Kline that “I think it’s alright except he kind of backs himself in the corner by pretending some of our guys aren’t nazis.
“I think he needs more wiggle room just in case there are salutes.”