The Guy Behind ‘Unite the Right’ Would Rather Focus on Video Games Before Upcoming Trial

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The plaintiffs in the suit are relying on an obscure civil rights statute in the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871. Attorney Karen Dunn, one of the lawyers behind the suit, said in a panel that the law “was originally designed to protect the rights of people in the Reconstruction era and, as others have said, what we have alleged here is a conspiracy to do racially motivated violence, which is not lawful or protected speech.”

One court document, a plaintiffs’ expert report, states that early in the planning stages for the rally, Kessler posted to Discord expressing his intent to create a “Battle of Berkeley situation in Charlottesville” and stage a “showdown with antifa,” as well as inviting violent groups he acknowledged would be “difficult to say that you can contain.” According to the complaint, Kessler and Kline’s Charlottesville 2.0 server provided attendees a space to organize transportation, coordinate plans, and distribute promotional material often calling for violence, the archives of which may ultimately prove their undoing. Kessler and Kline also allowed various far-right groups such as Vanguard America, Identity Evropa, and the Traditionalist Workers’ Party to have their own private channels on the server, the suit claims.

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The plaintiffs say records of the server are damning and demonstrate “countless exhortations to violence”:

Quotes from a Discord server that plaintiffs allege was co-run by Jason Kessler in the lead-up to the disastrous neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017.

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Quotes from a Discord server co-run by Jason Kessler in the lead-up to the disastrous neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017.

In “General Orders” distributed via the Discord obtained by the plaintiffs, Kline allegedly referred to “Enemies/Counter Protesters” as “hostile” and warned that if they lost their permit, they may resort to “plan red.” The plaintiffs say numerous posts on the server told attendees to bring firearms, other weaponry, and body armor to the event, with one user allegedly writing that plans to arm up were “discussed with the organizers.”

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Kessler himself allegedly posted in an #announcements channel, “@everyone . . . I recommend you bring picket sign post, shields and other self-defense implements which can be turned from a free speech tool to a self-defense weapon should things turn ugly.” In another post on Discord, Kessler allegedly said anyone who “[wants] a chance to crack some antifa skulls in self-defense” shouldn’t openly carry a firearm, as it might “scare the shit out of them and they’ll just stand off to the side.”

According to the complaint, Kessler also released a video targeting a Charlottesville-based anti-racist religious organization, Congregate, and urged Discord users to identify local businesses that had opposed his permit. Some of those businesses later received threats in person or via mail, the plaintiffs wrote.

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A letter allegedly received by a local business which had opposed Jason Kessler's permit for the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017.

One archived tweet shows Kessler celebrating the infamous tiki torch march on the night of Aug. 11, where the complaint says many attendees turned violent and urged other Discord users to “defend our territory” on the day of the attack.

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The suit also details discussions on Discord to organize waves of attacks on counter-protesters. While there’s no evidence Fields was part of the server, the plaintiffs’ complaint provided examples of users discussing the ideas of car attacks on protesters and inquiring about whether running over people blocking the street was legal in Virginia.

A letter allegedly received by a local business which had opposed Jason Kessler’s permit for the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017.

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“Their ideology is inherently violent and terroristic, no matter what they say otherwise. It’s based on a goal of upending our society and eliminating multiculturalism altogether,” Hayden, the SPLC reporter and spokesperson, told Gizmodo. “And since that message appeals to other angry men who fantasize about attacking society, inflicting pain on people, everything the propagandists say online has the potential to become something that they one day regret. Even if they ultimately regret it for selfish reasons, like legal trouble or losing access to social media.”

The backlog of evidence is just one reason Kessler might want to focus on video gaming right now. According to the New York Times, the defendants aren’t doing very well in pre-trial proceedings. Spencer’s lawyer quit the case last year after Spencer stopped paying. The court has already issued sanctions against some of the groups involved, such as one against the National Socialist Movement for allegedly destroying evidence, and the plaintiffs won adverse inferences against defendants including Robert “Azzmador” Ray, Kline, and Vanguard America.

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IFA lead attorney Roberta Kaplan told the Detroit Jewish News this month that the suit seeks “justice for the plaintiffs through monetary claims against the defendants and deterrence to other groups considering such things.”

“By winning large financial judgments at trial, we can effectively bankrupt and dismantle the leaders and hate groups at the core of the violent, antisemitic white supremacist movement and make clear the consequences for this violent hate,” Amy Spitalnick, IFA’s executive director, told the paper.

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Gizmodo reached out to Kessler for comment on this article and we’ll update if we hear back.

Correction: A prior version of this article misattributed a quote from Amy Spitalnick to an IFA attorney. We regret the error.

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