At a press conference on Sunday, angry citizens ran off Jason Kessler, the organizer of a disastrous rally for white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other members of the so-called alt right in Charlottesville, Virginia that ended in mass violence this weekend.
Local paralegal Heather Heyer died and dozens were injured after suspected member of neo-Nazi group Vanguard America ran over counter-protesters with his car, while two police officers died in a helicopter crash. The hundreds of event attendees staged brawls in the streets with anti-racist activists while guarded by rifle-toting militiamen, all largely with impunity from the police.
So yeah, there might be a reason Charlottesville simply wasn’t interested in whatever Kessler has to say. According to a video posted by WVIR-TV’s Henry Graff, members of the crowd chanted “shame” as Kessler approached the podium.
Kessler, for what it’s worth, seemed to be doing his best to incite the crowd.
“Today I just want to come before you, and I want to tell you the story of what really happened before this narrative is allowed to continue spinning out of control,” Kessler started his vile statement. “The hate that you hear around you? That is the anti-white hate that fueled what happened yesterday. What happened yesterday was the result of Charlottesville police officers refusing to do their job.”
“I disavow anything that led to folks getting hurt,” Kessler continued. “It is a sad day in our constitutional democracy when we are not able to have civil liberties like the First Amendment. That’s what leads to rational discussion and ideas breaking down and people resorting to violence.”
That sounds an awful lot like a threat of continued violence if white supremacists don’t get their way thinly veiled as an appeal to discourse, and Charlottesville residents seemed more than done listening.
In a video tweeted by BuzzFeed News’ Blake Montgomery, the crowd swarmed the podium. Subsequent photos and videos showed Kessler being rushed away by police in body armor.
“Her name was Heather, sir!” a man shouted at Kessler as he was escorted to a police station. “Her name was Heather, Jason. Her blood is on your hands ... what do you have to say for yourself?”
Of course, Kessler didn’t have anything else to say for himself worth hearing. In a subsequent video posted by journalist Brook Silva-Braga, he responded to the question about the death by again saying the real cause was the “denial of First Amendment rights” to him and his compatriots. Kessler also denied any personal responsibility whatsoever for what occurred, saying “I don’t know what happened.”