Charlottesville, Va., officials on Monday denied a request to hold a rally in August marking the anniversary of a protest by white supremacists that turned violent, saying it would endanger public safety.
In a three-paragraph decision signed by City Manager Maurice Jones, the city said the request for a permit “cannot be accommodated with the area applied for, or within a reasonable allocation of city funds and/or police resources.”
Jason Kessler filed the request for a permit last month to hold a “rally against government civil rights abuse and failure to follow security plans for political dissidents,” and to memorialize “the sacrifices made by political dissidents in Lee Park August 12, 2017.” Kessler was the primary organizer of the Aug. 12 Unite the Right rally that drew neo-Nazis and white nationalists to Charlottesville, leading to bloody clashes in the streets with counterprotesters.
On Monday, the city said Kessler’s application for a rally next year “likely underestimates the number of participants” and declared that the city does not have the police resources to identify opposing groups and keep them separated.
Charlottesville officials also said Kessler had included no information on how he would be responsible for the behavior of participants or how he could be held accountable for their adherence to city regulations.
Kessler blasted the city’s ruling, threatened legal action and vowed he would not be deterred.
“The decision is bogus and should be reversed in court,” he wrote in an e-mail. “We’re going to be suing Charlottesville for this and many other civil rights violations starting early next year. And the rally is still happening.”
Citing similar public safety constraints and insufficient police and financial resources, the city denied four other permit requests from opponents and supporters of Kessler to hold events in public parks on the anniversary weekend.
The violence that marked the rally worsened when James Alex Fields Jr., a 20-year-old Nazi sympathizer from Ohio, allegedly drove his Dodge Challenger into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing Heather Heyer, 32, and injuring 19 others. Two Virginia state troopers who had been monitoring the events from the air died later that day when their helicopter crashed.