- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 23, 2018

Jason Kessler, the white nationalist who organized last summer’s deadly “Unite the Right” demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, asked a federal judge on Friday to grant a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction letting him hold another rally in town on the event’s first anniversary.

Attorneys for Mr. Kessler, 34, made the request in a motion filed in Charlottesville federal court as part of a lawsuit initiated earlier this year after his permit for a proposed “Unite the Right 2” rally on Aug. 11-12 was refused by the city over public-safety concerns.

Mr. Kessler sued Charlottesville and the city manager over the rejection in March, and Magistrate Judge Joel C. Hoppe has been tasked with ruling whether the rally should occur.

Seven weeks until the slated date, Mr. Kessler’s attorneys filed their request Friday seeking an order ensuring the event can unfold.

“Plaintiff is likely to succeed on the merits of its claims and will suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief,” attorneys Elmer Woodard and James Kolenich wrote on Mr. Kessler’s behalf. “The balance of equities tilts strongly in its favor, and an injunction protecting Plaintiff’s constitutional rights is accord with the public interest.”

In an accompanying motion, Mr. Kolenich claimed that Mr. Kessler was rejected “based on the content of his speech.”

“The City is suppressing Mr. Kessler’s speech due to it’s content. The City may not join in or acquiesce in a heckler’s veto of Mr. Kessler’s speech,” Mr. Kolenich wrote.

Charlottesville’s city manager, Maurice Jones, did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

A white nationalist activist and blogger, Mr. Kessler organized last year’s rally as a protest held in response to the city’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate Army Gen. Robert E. Lee. Clashes erupted on the morning of the event between far-right participants and counterprotesters, however, and three people died in connected to the chaos that ensued.

Mr. Kessler received permission from Charlottesville last year to hold the inaugural “Unite the Right” at Emancipation Park, the site of the Lee statue, but the city revoked his permit on the eve of the event and asked him to relocate. He subsequently sued the city with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union and successfully obtained a temporary injunction hours before last year’s rally that allowed him to proceed as originally planned.

Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old legal assistant, was killed following last year’s rally after a person identified as a “Unite the Right” participant drove a car into a crowd of counterprotesters, according to police. James Alex Fields Jr. of Ohio has been charged in her murder and is awaiting trial. Two state troopers, Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper Berke M. M. Bates, were killed in a helicopter crash while monitoring the chaos.

Mr. Jones, the city manager, previously said that permitting a second “Unite the Right” in Charlottesville “presents a danger to public safety and it cannot be accommodated within a reasonable allocation of city funds and/or police resources.”

Earlier this month, meanwhile, Mr. Kessler filed paperwork with the National Park Service requesting permission to hold a “white civil rights rally” in front of the White House during the same weekend of his proposed Charlottesville event.

“No permit has been issued at this time,” NPS spokesman Michael Litterst told The Washington Times on Wednesday. “The review and permitting process will ensure public safety and the protection of park resources are taken into consideration; we do not consider the content of the message presented.”

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