Elliott Kline, a lead organizer of the deadly 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, was ordered by a federal court judge Friday to surrender to U.S. Marshals.
Senior U.S. District Judge Norman K. Moon ruled that Mr. Kline, also known as Eli Mosley, must report to Charlottesville federal court to turn himself in at noon on Monday, Jan. 6.
The judge’s ruling was issued more than two months after Mr. Kline was found in civil contempt of court in connection with a lawsuit brought on behalf of several Charlottesville residents against a number of individuals involved in the rally’s planning.
Plaintiffs represented by the Integrity First for America non-profit group allege that defendants including Mr. Kline conspired to commit violence and intimidation in violation of federal civil rights laws while planning for the event, which infamously resulted in violent clashes erupting between participants and counterprotesters and the deaths of three people: an anti-racist activist killed by a “Unite the Right” attendee, and two Virginia state troopers killed in a helicopter crash while monitoring the chaos.
Mr. Kline was previously found in civil contempt of court for failing to turn over relevant electronic devices and information sought as part of the pre-trial discovery phase.
In a 6-page ruling, the judge acknowledged that Mr. Kline has recently “taken some steps” to purge himself of civil contempt but has failed to follow through as legally required.
“Plaintiffs are entitled through discovery to test Kline’s assertions whether he has any relevant documents. That is true as a matter of course, and it bears real salience here, given Kline’s nearly two-year track-record of trying to shirk his discovery obligations,” the judge wrote.
“Indeed, this Court continues to find that Kline remains in civil contempt, and that he has not fulfilled the “steps to purge himself of contempt,” the ruling said in part.
Mr. Kline was accordingly ordered to surrender to the custody of the U.S. Marshal Services and to bring with him any “documents, electronic devices, credentials to access e-mail and social media accounts and materials he would need to purge himself of contempt,” according to the judge’s ruling.
He did not immediately return messages requesting comment.
“This suit makes clear that there will be serious consequences for orchestrating racist violence – and that there is no running from accountability,” said Amy Spitalnick, Integrity First for America’s executive director. “The court has repeatedly demonstrated that there will be real penalties, including jail time, for the defendants if they continue to flout their discovery obligations.”
Organized by a local self-described white civil rights activist, “Unite the Right” was billed as a free speech rally held in opposition to the Charlottesville City Council voting to remove longstanding memorials honoring Confederate generals who fought in the Civil War. It attracted participants including members of far-right groups including Identity Evropa, a white nationalist organization later led by Mr. Kline, and several branches of the Ku Klux Klan, among others.