Recently arrested Capitol rioter texted with Proud Boys leader -- a signal of broader coordination

Federal court documents allege that one of two men recently arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 assault on the US Capitol communicated in advance with a Proud Boys leader, pointing to a wider organizational footprint in the execution of the effort to overwhelm the Capitol and prevent transfer of the presidency from Donald Trump to Joe Biden.

Ronald Loehrke, 30, was arrested today in Cummings, Ga. and charged with obstruction of law enforcement, unlawful entry on restricted buildings and grounds, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, according to the government. James Haffner, 53, was arrested in South Dakota on Wednesday, on the same complaint. He faced the same charges, along with an additional charge of assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers.

The two men marched with the Proud Boys and were part of the mob that overwhelmed US Capitol police officers during the initial breach at the northwest pedestrian path. The government alleges that shortly after the crowd broke through the police line, Loehrke helped another rioter over the barricade and then waved protesters towards the Capitol. As thousands of rioters surged over a toppled fence, a statement of offenses in the case alleges that Loehrke and Haffner made their way to a line of officers equipped with riot gear at the west plaza outside the Capitol.

According to the document, Loehrke chastised the other rioters for allowing themselves to be “stopped by twenty-five officers.”

“Don’t back down, patriots!” Loehrke reportedly shouted while Haffner stood nearby. “The whole f*cking world is watching. Stand the f*ck up today!”

The statement of offense indicates that Loehrke and Haffner then made their way to the east side of the Capitol, potentially indicating a broader coordinated strategy to breach the building from multiple sides. Several members of the Proud Boys, who are charged with conspiracy, ascended the scaffolding stairs.

Another Proud Boy, Dominic Pezzola, who has been indicted along with two others in a separate conspiracy case, used a stolen police shield to break out a window, allowing the first wave of rioters to enter the building.

The statement of offense in support of the charges against Loehrke and Haffner includes text messages exchanged in late December 2020 between Loehrke and Proud Boys leader Ethan Nordean that hint at a coordinated plan for Jan. 6 extending beyond the Proud Boys.

A Seattle-area leader of the Proud Boys, Nordean was propelled to fame within the organization when he delivered a knockout punch to a left-wing counter-protester during a 2018 protest in Portland, Ore. On Jan. 6, 2021, Nordean led the Proud Boys march, along with Joe Biggs. Nordean, Biggs and two other Proud Boys leaders are charged together in a separate conspiracy case.

The government alleges that Nordean texted Loehrke, whose number was saved in his cell phone as “Ron (Lisa’s friend),” on Dec. 27, 2020, asking if Loerke was coming to Washington, DC. Loehrke, who also lived in Seattle at the time, responded affirmatively. The government alleges that Nordean then texted Loehrke to tell him that he wanted him “on the front line” with him, and Loehrke responded that he planned to bring three “bad mother f*ckers” with him.

Two photos included in the statement of offense show Loehrke at the Washington Monument, where the Proud Boys mustered before marching to the Capitol. Biggs is pictured in both photos and Lohrke can be seen shaking hands with a third unidentified individual.

After diverging from the larger Proud Boys group and heading towards the east side of the Capitol, the statement of offense alleges that Loehrke and Haffner dismantled three sets of barricades. After dragging aside the third set, the government alleges that Loehrke encouraged the other rioters by saying words to the effect of, “Let’s go! Get in there!”

The government alleges that the two men ascended the east stairs and as they stood a few rows back from the mob attempting to break through the Columbus Doors, Haffner sprayed an aerosol substance at the Capitol police officers. Soon after, the rioters breached the doors, and Haffner and Loehrke followed them in.

Inside the Capitol, the government alleges that Loehrke engaged in a confrontation with a Capitol police officer, citing a Getty Images photograph, and made it inside of Sen. Jeff Merkley’s office.

'War is coming': Unarrested #PoleTosser rioter flagrantly taunts FBI, poses with GOPers and 'patrols' the border with his pals

He’s known as “AFO #258” on the FBI’s most wanted list, signifying that he’s one of the individuals sought by the agency for involvement “in violent assaults on federal law enforcement officers at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.”

The volunteer online sleuths who have been poring through open-source video and matching images to social media profiles for the past 11 months have a catchier name for Lucas Denney. They call him #PoleTosser, a nicknamed earned when Denney launched a giant wooden pole toward a line of police officers in the midst of a pitched battle on the West Plaza as rioters lobbed projectiles and the two sides exchanged blasts of chemical spray.

Despite being wanted by the FBI, Denney has maintained a relatively high profile, showing up at public events such as rallies against COVID restrictions as president of the Patriot Boys paramilitary group and posing alongside Republican politicians ranging from Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina.

Denney, an Army veteran who lives in suburbs south of Fort Worth, also hasn’t been shy about taunting the FBI, or continuing to agitate for insurrection.

READ: MAGA rioters' favorite new defense is getting obliterated in court: reporter

“Big shoutout to the FBI because you’re all f*cking traitors. FBI, you’re on the wrong f*cking side,” he said in an Aug. 26 TikTok video. Denney concluded by saying, “I’m calling for a military coup. Marine Corps, you lost five guys today — so far. Go ahead and do a military coup and get this mother***er out of office, these communists out of office, and you need to get Trump back in there to fix this shit.” He warned that if the military fails to remove President Biden from office, the United States will face “World War III and a civil war all at once.”

Another video posted on Denney’s TikTok page on Oct. 19 includes appropriated footage from a Revolutionary War documentary accompanied by the text, “I remember another time when Patriots were called domestic terrorist [sic] fighting their communist government.” During a scene showing British army soldiers on the march the letters “F-B-I” flash across the screen.

Dressed in tactical gear and a batting helmet, Denney wore a Three Percenter patch representative of the antigovernment movement that views itself as the heirs of the American revolutionaries during a skirmish on the west plaza at the US Capitol, where he hurled the wooden pole at police officers on Jan. 6. Video from multiple sources at the scene also shows Denney lunging at the police and yanking a metal barricade. At other points during the day, Denney traded out his batting helmet for a black hat with a Three Percenter logo.

Eventually, Denney made his way to the Lower West Terrace, and into the tunnel, where Metropolitan police officers fended off a mob intent on surging into the Capitol building. Denney was at the scene near the mouth of the tunnel when rioters pulled Officer Michael Fanone into the crowd. The video shows Denney in close proximity to Fanone during the assault, but it is difficult to tell whether he is participating in the assault or attempting to assist the officer.

A person reached at a phone number associated with Lucas Denney denied being at the US Capitol on Jan. 6. The person did not confirm their identity or respond to further attempts to seek comment.

A spokesperson for the FBI told Raw Story the agency does not confirm or deny the existence of an ongoing investigation.

READ: Here's how federal judges are exposing the truth about the MAGA rioters

Denney attracted attention in the online sleuths when he appeared in a video interview during an Oct. 11 “Texas Loves Ashli Babbitt” rally while wearing a black hat with a Three Percenter logo identical to the one he was wearing at the Capitol on Jan. 6. An Air Force veteran, Babbitt has become a martyr of the insurrectionary right after she was fatally shot by a Capitol police officer while attempting to crawl through a window to the Speaker’s Lobby in the US Capitol on Jan. 6.

The online sleuths also took note of a selfie Denney took with Cruz after an Aug. 18 townhall in Grapevine, Texas. Denney was wearing apparel that identified him as “president” of the “Patriot Boys” at both the Ashli Babbitt event and Ted Cruz townhall.

The Patriot Boys website describes the group as a “political club” comprised of “3%ers” who are committed to campaigning for “true conservative Republicans.” The group publicly opposes “antifa” and Black Lives Matter, while describing itself as vanguard against “tyranny.”

As president of Patriot Boys, Denney has maintained a high profile since Jan. 6, appearing with fellow members in matching Army green T-shirts at a pro-Israel rally in Fort Worth in April; addressing a rally against COVID restrictions, also in Fort Worth, in July; and speaking out in support of Jan. 6 defendants at a rally in San Antonio in September. In addition to Cruz and Cawthorn, Denney has also shared photos of himself posing with former Texas Republican Party Chairman, Allen West and former pro wrestler and former Texas congressional candidate Dan Rodimer.

READ: MAGA-rioting former sheriff's deputy gets reamed out by judge for 'outrageous' attacks on fellow cops

Since late August, Denney has been making TikTok videos that feature incendiary rhetoric promoting war against the federal government and serenity in the face of death, while calling on law enforcement to disobey orders. Some appear to openly taunt the FBI.

One video sets a slideshow of photos of Patriots Boys members at various events to the reggae song “Bad Boys,” with the familiar refrain, “Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do when they come for you?”

TikTok video posted by Lucas Denney

Many of the videos explicitly call for war against fellow Americans.

One shows lightning flashing around the US Capitol, accompanied by the words, “WAR… IS… COMING,” and, “Patriots are here…. Hear our footsteps?... We’re watching you.”

Another video shows a glitchy image of Denney staring into the camera, accompanied by an audio recording of a rage-filled man saying, “You know, the crazy shit is it’s a lot of f*cking people they f*cking act like this f*cking country right here isn’t full of a bunch of f*cking veterans that are capable of still f*cking getting it on. Why the f*ck do you all think that we will just sit and do f*cking nothing? Why!?”

Since late October, Denney’s TikTok page has been set to private.

READ: WATCH: Proud Boy gives 'disturbing' prayer for maskless girl at rally that caused 3 school lockdowns

Members of the Patriot Boys organize on the social media app Telegram. Denney is the owner of Patriot Boys Support Page channel, a public forum with almost 100 members. Discussion on the channel often centers on themes of vigilantism and paranoia directed at Muslims and immigrants. Alongside agitation against perceived enemies, the channel also shows members actively working to build relationships with veteran service organizations and with the COVID denialist movement. In early October, Patriot Boys held a benefit to raise money for a VFW post in Fort Worth. The following weekend, a member of the channel who identified himself as the post’s quartermaster put out a request for volunteers for a cornhole tournament.

Up until mid-November, Eric Braden, a Three Percenter militia leader who was arrested last December at a mall in San Antonio while protesting mask guidelines at a mall in San Antonio, was an active participant in the Patriot Boys Telegram channel. Braden led a group of men with rifles under the banner of his own group, Southern Patriot Council, during a #StopTheSteal rally in Atlanta in December 2020, in the runup to the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol. Braden’s group teamed up with the Georgia III% Security Force, led by Chris Hill, for the Atlanta #StopTheSteal rally. Recently Braden has said that he is running for governor of Texas, while pledging that when he takes office the state will become an independent republic.

Talk on the Patriot Boys channel often focuses on perceived threats by racial and religious minorities.

Following a shooting at Timberview High School in Arlington that left four people injured in early October, Patriot Boys members started talking on Telegram.

Braden shared a photo of the suspect, an 18-year-old Black male, on Telegram, writing, “We’re hunting him now.” Then, underscoring his seriousness, Braden recorded a voice chat. “I’m willing to wager a little bit of money that he ended up heading towards Fort Worth, guys,” he said, naming particular neighborhoods where he speculated that the suspect would have family members.

READ: Here’s the truth about the pro-Trump ‘Proud Boys’ and their connections to neo-Nazis

The talk soon turned to Patriot Boys’ negative perception of the area around Timberview High School, along with the nearby town of Mansfield, where Denney lived.

“Mansfield itself is becoming a ghetto because of the greedy ass local politicians here,” Denney opined.

Braden then interjected an Islamophobic element into the discussion.

“Mansfield is a dump,” he said. “Lots of jihadi in Mansfield.”

“Lots yes,” Denney agreed.

“Arlington has apartment complexes in the hood filled with fighting middle eastern men,” Braden added. Then he promised: “Get me in the governor’s seat and all of them go. Elect another politician and watch them grow.”

Only a couple days after Braden’s promise to purge Muslims from Texas, a discussion about migrants from Latin America seeking to escape poverty elicited a comment from another member who appeared to relish the prospect of violence.

Denney shared a link to a story from The Western Journal with the inflammatory headline “‘We Are Ready for War’: Leader of Migrant Caravan Says Nothing Will Get in his Way of Making it to US.” The quote that formed the basis of the headline came from Irineo Mujica, director of Pueblo Sin Fronteras: “We prefer to march with [travel] papers…. At this time, with or without papers we are ready for war…. If the National Guard comes and they are cowardly enough to beat women and children, let them prepare because God’s hand is with us.”

A Patriot Boys member with the username Cpl. Cyrus responded: “The border is going to turn into a shooting gallery and it’ll be all over with. Then the civil war can begin.”

In early October, Braden mentioned on the channel that he had spoken to a local official on the US-Mexican border in south Texas, and a plan quickly came together.

“We are leaving Wednesday and we’ll keep everybody updated on this page,” Denney wrote in the early-morning hours of Oct. 18, posting a link to his Cash App account. “If you can donate to help us with gas, food, toiletries ect [sic] we need it. It’s a long trip for the different chapters that are going and we could be there for a month or more rotating.”

Six days later, Denney posted in the channel: “So who’s going to the border on Monday with us?”

It remains unclear whether Denney or other Patriot Boys members followed through on the plan.

Armed left-wing activists are prepared for the next Rittenhouse -- but analysts say the armed right is a bigger threat

The Kyle Rittenhouse verdict revealed a stark divide in how Americans view race, political violence and guns: For partisans on the right, the verdict vindicated Rittenhouse as a hero who stepped forward to help protect property as police lost control, and who used justified deadly force to defend himself — a symbol of law and order against a backdrop of urban chaos.

On the left, the verdict is seen as a green light for white vigilante violence against Black racial justice protesters and their allies — both an extension of state violence and a reminder of law enforcement’s systemic failure to protect people of color. The violence meted out by Rittenhouse, resulting in the deaths of two men and injury to a third, is also viewed as the inevitable and tragic result of a country awash in guns. Consequently, the idea of adding more guns to protests is widely considered anathema by progressives.

Activists in the armed left embrace the first part of the equation wholeheartedly, but hold a more complicated view on the second question, placing less emphasis on the number of guns at protests and more on who’s carrying them. To be sure, the armed left is a decidedly small minority within the broader progressive movement, compared to the political right, where bearing arms is woven into veneration for the Second Amendment.

While armed leftists insist on reserving the right to carry firearms in self-defense at protests, there’s little evidence that the Rittenhouse verdict has prompted them to take a more aggressive stance. The lack of mobilization on the part of the armed left stands in contrast to perennial claims raised by the far-right actors and the conservative media ecosystem that “antifa” poses the greatest threat of violence, which are contradicted by all available evidence.

READ: 'Guns are fine -- racism is not': Armed redneck lefties are waging a different kind of war on Fascism

“I have not seen any credible threats or statements of intent to respond with violence as a response to the verdict, which is important to note,” said Matthew Kriner, a senior research scholar at the Center on Terrorism, Extremism and Counterterrorism at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. “Why don’t we see reciprocity in real time? One of the things that keeps coming up with the armed left is they have taken an intentional stance of non-proactive engagement. They don’t want to proactively engage with someone, but they will defend themselves.”

Grandmaster Jay, the supreme commander of the Not F*cking Around Coalition, a Black paramilitary that came to prominence when hundreds of its members paraded with rifles in the streets of downtown Louisville, Ky. in support of Breonna Taylor in July 2020, told Raw Story that, if anything, the Rittenhouse verdict is likely to make armed leftists more cautious.

"I don't think folks need to become more assertive," said Grandmaster Jay, whose real name is John Johnson. "We'll see situations that those individuals that choose to arm themselves will probably give a little more thought, whether they be protesters or militia. As far as folks provoking situations, thinking you can gamble on hiding behind self-defense, that would be foolish."

Speaking about the Rittenhouse shootings, Grandmaster Jay said he would like to see "synergy between the militia and the protesters," lamenting that the focus on outrage against racism and police violence — the cause for upheaval when the shootings took place — got lost during murder trial.

READ: Trump caused growth to ‘spike’ in gun group for African Americans — now they’re considering a political arm

Four other leftist gun activists who spoke to Raw Story echoed Grandmaster Jay's assessment, adding other reasons that they don't expect an escalation on the part of the left. They view guns as only one limited option among an array of tools for collective defense at protests. And they're conscious that structural racism means they are more constrained than their right-wing counterparts. But they insist that organized armed community defense needs to remain on the table as an option for responding to situations like the one in which Rittenhouse fatally shot two men and injured a third.

Gun control advocates, unsurprisingly, view any introduction of additional guns to protest zones with alarm.

"Armed intimidation at demonstrations is a direct assault on the First Amendment and on the ability to keep our communities safe," Justin Wagner, the senior director of investigations at Everytown for Gun Safety, said in an email to Raw Story. "The gun lobby wants us to believe that guns everywhere will make us safer, but the research is clear: Guns at demonstrations make violence more likely."

One reason the Rittenhouse verdict is unlikely to move the needle is because it was utterly unsurprising to African-Americans in particular and leftist activists as a whole, who were already acutely aware of racial disparities in law enforcement and the court system.

READ: A sleeping giant is stirring — and it could transform the political calculus of elections to come

“Everything is working according to plan — according to the plan this country is established upon, how everything was set up,” said Haikoo-x, a Durham, NC resident who is a member of the Panther Special Operations Command, a Black armed formation. “I see through the thinly veiled attempt to say this was not a racial case…. We know for a fact that if a Black man or Black woman defended themselves in the same way, we would not be experiencing such a verdict at this juncture.” Haikoo spoke on condition that his real name not be published because of his experience receiving threatening social-media messages from white supremacists.

The baseline for left-wing political violence is already statistically low, and armed leftists and experts alike say there’s no indication that the Rittenhouse verdict will be a tipping point for an uptick in mobilization.

A recent report co-authored by Everytown's Wagner found that the “vast majority” of armed actors at protests over an 18-month period from January 2020 through June 2021 were “right-wing groups, like the Three Percenters and the Proud Boys.”

Entitled "Armed Assembly: Guns, Demonstrations, and Political Violence in America, the report was jointly released in August by Everytown and the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, or ACLED. The report found that the number of protests involving the presence of firearms spiked in the three-month period following the death of George Floyd, accounting for more than half of the total. But the report notes that almost 84 percent of the armed demonstrations associated with protests against racist police violence included armed groups or individuals who showed up to oppose racial justice protesters.

Underscoring Wagner's point, the report found that demonstrations where firearms were present were almost six times as likely to turn violent or destructive. Sam Jones, a spokesperson for ACLED and one of the report’s co-authors clarified in an email to Raw Story that the report doesn’t assert a causal relationship between the presence of firearms and protest violence, but he said the correlation is cause for concern.

“The data do suggest that adding more guns to an already volatile situation like a political protest could elevate the risk of violence, and especially deadly violence,” Jones said. “Our data also indicate that demonstrations with counter-demonstrators on both sides, in general, are more likely to turn violent than demonstrations that take place on their own, so if these begin to increasingly take the form of multiple opposing armed groups looking to resolve their disputes in the streets, that’s a dangerous trend. But right now, that violence — armed or not — is predominantly connected to one set of actors: far-right militias and militant social groups.”

Left-wing community defense vs. right-wing accelerationism

Violence at protests has far more to do with the actors than the weaponry, in the view of Matthew Kriner, the scholar at the Center on Terrorism, Extremism and Counterterrorism. With a few exceptions, he said, people involved with the armed left tend to use firearms in a defensive posture.

“In the American context, there’s a very intentional framing and engagement protocol that is restrained self-defense and community-oriented defense focused,” Kriner said. “That’s in stark contrast to the right-wing discourse of militias and boogaloo that openly talk about using guns to start a civil war.”

Beginning around 2016, Kriner said, a number of far-right groups emerged that embraced accelerationism — the idea that violence can hasten societal collapse and open the door to a new social order.

“What we saw from 2016 onwards is that there are very particular actors that intend to bring the level of antagonism and the temperature of protests up in the hopes of instigating violence and with the intent of framing violence as being between the left and the right,” Kriner said. “That’s something accelerationists have been strategically deploying. You can look at the Proud Boys, Rise Above Movement, Patriot Prayer and now the boogaloo. Those are groups that are coming to events with the intention of witnessing violence and responding, or instigating violence.”

As an example, Kriner cited Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnis’ decision to create a ranked hierarchy within the organization in which members are required to commit an assault to obtain the top rank. He added that there’s no equivalent on the left of a group codifying premeditated violence.

The Not F*cking Around Coalition, or NFAC might be a possible exception as a left-wing group that embraces accelerationism, Kriner said.

Kriner said that NFAC’s social media “echoes of a similar vein of rhetoric as boogaloo in terms of willingness to use violence against law enforcement, in their case, because of the historical mistreatment of African Americans.” He added that there are a “small number within the NFAC arena that are willing to take violent steps,” citing Othal Wallace, a former member who shot a Daytona Beach, Fla. police officer in the head.

Grandmaster Jay rejected the notion that NFAC's ideology is accelerationist, telling Raw Story: "We've never espoused any statements where we said we were opposed to the police or let's attack the police. Its always been opposition to police brutality."

In describing NFAC's ideology of racial separatism, Grandmaster Jay rejected the term "Black ethnostate," but he said, "One of the things I teach, what has always been taught throughout history is that every race on earth has a home. Black Americans do not have a home." He added, "It is incumbent that we have a place that we can call home the way that the white race can call home."

(The Huey P. Newton Gun Club, another Black paramilitary organization, is similarly linked to Micah Xavier Johnson, who killed five Dallas police officers during an ambush at a Black Lives Matter rally in 2016. Co-founder Babu Omowale said Johnson was a familiar face at community events in Dallas, and his fellow co-founder Yafeuh Balogun reportedly posted on Facebook after the officers were killed: “I will not ever disown the brother as most have. He shall be celebrated one day.”)

Notwithstanding his assessment of NFAC, Kriner and other analysts emphasize that on the whole, armed protests are far more likely to become violent when they involve far-right actors.

“The key point here is not just the presence of firearms, but also the types of armed actors that are present,” Sam Jones of the ACED told Raw Story. The data shows that 20 percent of demonstrations involving Proud Boys turn violent, Jones said. In contrast, the report found that 16 percent of demonstrations involving the presence of firearms by any party turned violent or destructive.

“There’s clear indicators of accelerationism across the board on the right,” Kriner said. “The Proud Boys are often willing to embed themselves in spaces, openly wearing colors alongside MAGA activists. They’re willing to push the envelope in terms of what kind of violence is feasible.”

‘An excuse to have a Rittenhouse moment’

Haikoo-x showed up week after week for protests against racist policing in Graham, NC in the summer of 2020. Responding to George Floyd’s killing, the protesters focused on a Confederate monument in front of the county courthouse that served as a vivid symbol of the racism entrenched in local law enforcement and the court system. Haikoo and other racial justice protesters encountered continuous online threats and physical confrontation from neo-Confederates who wanted to preserve the monument, back the police and show their support for Donald Trump.

The far-right counter-protesters always came seeking an excuse for violence, Haikoo said.

“The white supremacists I’ve come across, many of them had weapons,” he said. “Knives have been found on them. They made sure of their Second Amendment rights. I’ve been sent pictures of loads of firearms in regards to taking me out and in regards to taking my comrades out. They don’t mind flashing their firearms and making intentions known, and even doing their best to find themselves in the personal space of protesters, especially Black men, so they can cause a ruckus and have an excuse to have a Rittenhouse moment.”

North Carolina prohibits carrying dangerous weapons, including firearms, at demonstrations, although far-right groups have widely flouted the state law, often with little or no consequences.

“The real rule is the unspoken one — is no firearms by Black people and allies at protests,” Haikoo told Raw Story. “That’s what the regulation means.”

If it were legal, Haikoo said, he “would be carrying every time” he attended a protest in North Carolina.

“That could cut down on some of the violence,” he said. “You have some white supremacists that are really looking to hurt Black people. Some are just trying to intimidate. A lot of that intimidation has caused riots. You’re not going to walk up on me as fast when I have an AR-15 strapped to my side. That could be de-escalation. The goal is never violence; it’s organized force.”

On Oct. 31, 2020, Haikoo stood with other Black racial justice activists on a stage near the Confederate monument in Graham as city police officers and county sheriff’s deputies set upon protesters, along with children, disabled people and journalists, with pepper fog, disrupting a march to the polls on the final day of early voting and making dozens of arrests. “I had people screaming and crying at me to please hide myself and please get off the podium,” Haikoo said, recalling how his comrades were concerned that the deputies would use the chaos as a pretext to shoot him.

A couple weeks after the police violently shut down the march to the polls in Graham, Haikoo traveled from North Carolina to join an armed march with other Black activists in Dallas. Haikoo marched as a member of Panther Special Operations Command, alongside members of the Huey P. Newton Gun Club and the Fred Hampton Gun Club, part of a constellation of armed Black formations inspired by the original Black Panther Party. “At the end of the day, we’re all Panthers,” Haikoo said. “It’s one big organization with different pockets.”

The march route took the activists through predominantly Black neighborhoods and, in Haikoo’s words, “allowed us to speak to people on how to properly arm themselves in a way that as much as possible is beyond reproach.

“It was an opportunity when we marched through to see that we have our people that care about us,” he said. “We have people that are willing to march out there — a bunch of Black people with guns and fearlessness in their stride. We got to give people hugs. [We were] talking to people in tears that didn’t know Black Panthers existed, that there were people really invested in marginalized communities.”

The open carry question

Armed leftist groups have periodically used open carry as a tactic to counter far-right mobilization. Two of the most dramatic examples come from 2016 and 2017, during Donald Trump’s campaign for president and his first year in office. Notably, they did not occur during the past 18 months that have been marked by upheaval over COVID restrictions, racial reckoning and election disputes.

The Huey P. Newton Gun Club, named after the Black Panther Party founder, was founded in 2014 in response to the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., which also kicked off the first wave of Black Lives Matter activism. In April 2016, as the Republican primary amped up anti-Muslim sentiment, armed members of the Huey P. Newton Gun Club joined forces with the New Black Panther Party and Nation of Islam to confront rifle-wielding members of the Bureau of American-Islamic Relations.

“When they decided to come to south Dallas — that’s a largely African-American community — that’s how we got involved,” co-founder Yafeuh Balogun told Raw Story. “We didn’t think they should show up with guns. Come and talk, or communicate with pen and paper.

“I always say when I talk about it that it wasn’t the Huey P. Newton Gun Club; it was really the community that ran them out of Dallas,” he added.

Meanwhile, the now defunct Redneck Revolt emerged in late 2016 and early 2017 to confront the rising threat of the alt-right, a rebranding of white power extremism that sought to ride Trump’s coattails into mainstream acceptance. On Aug. 12, 2017, when hundreds of white supremacists from across the United States swarmed into Charlottesville, Va. for the Unite the Right rally, a contingent of armed leftists took up positions with long rifles outside a nearby park where an opposing group held a permit to provide respite for counter-protesters. Mitchell Fryer, who participated in the defensive formation, recalled that a group of young men in white shirts and khaki pants from Identity Evropa — an organization recently found liable for conspiracy to commit racial, ethnic and religious harassment and violence — walked up on the Redneck Revolt group, stopped momentarily to take stock, and then turned and walked away.

As a safety precaution, Dwayne Dixon, who also participated in the effort, said members carried rifles with empty chambers although they had ammunition on hand. That was to avoid anyone misfiring, or getting shot by adversaries who might try to wrest away their weapons.

“We were effective in what we hoped to do in a really historic moment that won’t ever be reenacted,” Dixon said. “These decisions were risky, but they were risky for us.”

Despite Redneck Revolt being named in a lawsuit by the Georgetown Law Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection that was ultimately resolved when they signed a consent decree agreeing to not return to Charlottesville as a paramilitary, Dixon said he still feels confident they made the right call.

White supremacists rained down horrific violence on Charlottesville during Unite the Right, including punching, kicking and hurling lit torches at counter-protesters and ramming through them with shields, culminating with James Fields accelerating his Dodge Challenger into a crowd of nonviolent marchers, killing Heather Heyer and injuring dozens of others. In contrast, Redneck Revolt did not fire a shot, and there is no evidence members engaged in any violence. Fields’ lawyer called Dixon to testify as part of an attempt to build a case that her client “felt he was in danger” before he drove his car into the crowd, but the jury rejected the argument and found Fields guilty of first-degree murder.

Six days after the Unite the Right rally, Dixon carried a semi-automatic rifle in downtown Durham, NC in response to a rumor that the Ku Klux Klan was coming to the city. Dixon was cited for violating the state’s law against bringing a dangerous weapon to a demonstration, but the charge was dismissed by a judge who agreed with Dixon’s lawyer that the law is unconstitutional.

Since then, neither Dixon nor Fryer have participated in any open-carry actions.

“I’d open-carry if the situation calls for it,” Fryer said. “I haven’t found another situation since Charlottesville outside of a couple instances on private property where that was the case.”

Dixon said that in light of the Rittenhouse verdict he has no appetite for any escalation of firearms use by the left.

“I don’t think that’s a trajectory I’m interested in pursuing,” he said, explaining that the volatility of the current historical moment in the United States and the endless complexities of social fault-lines and conditions give him pause.

“I would want to explore other modes of deterrence, not just simply carrying rifles,” Dixon said. “That moment and those tactics, they’re effective — in my case, that was 2017, and hasn’t been since.”

Over the past four years, Dixon noted, leftists have utilized an array of tactics to provide for community defense at protests, including bicycles and shields to create barriers, and flanking marches with vehicles in front and back.

“I think we have archives to draw on,” Dixon said. “The part that would be occupied by visible carrying of arms would be small.”

Fryer, who left Redneck Revolt before the group dissolved, started a project called Armed Margins to provide firearms and self-defense training to people who traditionally have barriers to access, including people of color, LGBTQ people and other progressive allies. They said they have seen plenty of open carrying by leftists over the past couple years, but they worry that many activists bringing guns to protests are creating unnecessary risks and don’t understand the legal framework of self-defense.

“There’s people out there doing community defense,” they said. “The left isn’t having appropriate conversation about what are good practices and what aren’t.”

Fryer described a livestream they monitored in which a group of leftists with long guns was attempting to direct people from the opposing side out of a parking lot. When the person went in a different direction one of the leftists came up and slammed their rifle into the driver’s window. Fryer declined to disclose the date and location of the incident because they don’t want the person to be doxed and harassed, but cited it as a cautionary story about a situation that could have easily gone horribly wrong.

“What’s not recognized is that in stand-your-ground states, vehicles and homes are known as special places,” Fryer said. “In the legal protections of stand your ground, within self-defense you’re granted quite a few presumptions that cannot be argued in court. I believe it’s the presumption of deadly harm on the part of the person who is trying to forcefully enter the vehicle. The other is the presumption of reasonable fear of serious injury or death.”

As the number of armed protests surged in the three months after the killing of George Floyd, armed confrontations between opposing actors rose apace. Notably, Gaige Grosskreutz, the third man gunned down by Kyle Rittenhouse, testified that he was unintentionally pointing his own gun at Rittenhouse when the shooting occurred.Earlier in the summer of 2020 a Black Lives Matter supporter named Garrett Foster who was carrying an AK-47 when he was fatally shot by a driver trying to pass through a crowd of protesters in downtown Austin, Texas. Daniel Perry, an Army sergeant who was moonlighting as a rideshare driver, has been indicted for murder in the case. Whether Foster raised his rifle before Perry shot him is in dispute.

Then, in August 2020, only four days after the Rittenhouse shooting, an antifascist named Michael ReinoehlMichael Reinoehl fatally shot Patriot Prayer supporter Aaron Danielson after a protest in Portland, Ore. Reinoehl went on the run, and five days later a US Marshals task force killed him in a hail of bullets.

Matthew Kriner, the scholar at the Center on Terrorism, Extremism and Counterterrorism said Reinoehl is the only armed leftist that he's aware of "that proactively carried out an assault."

He also said: "Leftists, when they do go armed to protests, there's a valid reason they might want to be armed. When you look at rhetoric by Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer, they joke about hunting antifascists in the streets. Antifascists have a valid reason to believe they will not just be assaulted, but be targets of attempted killings."

‘A different set of rules’

Mitchell Fryer, the instructor with Armed Margins, and Yafeuh Balogun, the co-founder of the Huey P. Newton Gun Club, acknowledged that bringing additional guns to a setting like Kenosha, Wis. on the night that Kyle Rittenhouse killed Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber — which can more properly be described as a rebellion than a protest — is risky. But they both insisted that an organized community defense force shouldn’t be off the table.

“What we would have done potentially is attempted to keep those groups from intermingling,” Balogun said. “That would have been the best and most responsible thing is the protection of life. I’ve never been concerned about property. I don’t care if buildings burn. We probably would have been trying to keep the groups separate.”

Taking into consideration that Huey P. Newton Gun Club members would have been embedded “with the progressive element” in a crowd that was angered by the police shooting of a Black man, Bologun clarified: “We wouldn’t necessarily be trying to control people’s First Amendment rights. We would have allowed people to be open about how they feel.”

Fryer also said they could imagine an organized community defense formation playing a constructive role.

“I think the presence of armed people can be a deterrent, especially if those persons are well organized, narrow in their scope of what they’re doing, and comport themselves with discipline,” they said.

Like Balogun, Fryer said they viewed an armed left formation as a potential buffer. But they also said it could have potentially opened a line of communication with the right-wing militia to which Rittenhouse was attached.

“If you’re a person who’s armed up, you can hold a conversation with another person who’s armed up and have dialogue — all kinds of things that lower the temperature,” Fryer said. “It’s harder to shoot someone who you’ve talked to.”

Balogun argued that it was the “intermingling” of opposing groups that allowed Rittenhouse to interact with Rosenbaum, whom he perceived as a threat, leading to first his and then Huber’s death, ultimately concluding with the jury’s decision that Rittenhouse acted in self-defense. Fryer said made a similar point — that no matter Rittenhouse’s stated purpose of protecting property or providing medic services, “the way he’s being interpreted is a white agitator who’s pointing guns at us,” not an ally to those expressing their rage at the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

“Hypothetically, you have a community defense group and you hear the Kenosha Guard is out, and they’re adjacent to areas where there’s rebellion going on,” Fryer said. “As militia folks are showing up, they’re establishing communication with them before the militia starts doing unilateral things. Maybe they’ll give you information.” Fryer added that the community defense group might sense that someone like Rittenhouse was inadvertently antagonizing the crowd. They might “get feedback and send that over to the militia, and they rein that shit in.”

But a left-wing version of Kyle Rittenhouse waving a rifle around, and lethally dispatching far-right domestic terrorists under the legal cover of self-defense? That’s not even a fantasy that armed leftists are likely to entertain.

“I don’t think we will see an increase in that from the left because we know we don’t get the same privilege extended to us,” said Haikoo-x, the racial justice activists who faced down violent white supremacists in Graham, NC last year. “Honestly, a black man would get a much harsher sentence. A Black man would be sentenced just for carrying a firearm. We face a different set of rules versus Kyle, America’s sweetheart…. We can’t. That’s out of survival. What that does is it makes it open season for them to have even more justification to kill us. ‘He had a gun.’ ‘He had a violent past.’ They’re going to make a scandal and ruin your name, and say, ‘He wouldn’t have had a gun if he wasn’t looking for violence.’”

Haikoo repeated his assessment that the left is unlikely to escalate in response to a far right emboldened by the verdict, but offered the subtlest of suggestions that it might not be that way forever.

“I don’t think it will increase anything,” he said. “We will not be able to survive doing so, unless we did so in very large numbers. That is something to be determined.”

How Charlottesville set the stage for Jan. 6 -- and helped launch some of the biggest players in the Capitol riot

Days after neo-Nazi James Fields Jr. murdered antiracist activist Heather Heyer in a horrific car-ramming attack in Charlottesville, Va., the Daily Caller, a website founded by Tucker Carlson, quietly removed articles by contributor Jason Kessler.

Kessler was the primary organizer of the Unite the Right rally, which saw neo-Nazis chant, "Jews will not replace us," as they carried torches to the Rotunda at the University of Virginia on Aug. 11, 2017 and again the following day as they marched through Charlottesville.

More than four years later, the ideas that galvanized the Unite the Right rally are no longer considered too radioactive for mainstream conservative media. Carlson himself embraced the Great Replacement theory — responsible for fueling massacres in Pittsburgh; Christchurch, New Zealand; Poway, Calif.; and El Paso, Texas — on his Fox News show in April 2021. He accused Democrats of "trying to replace the current electorate" in the United States "with new people, more obedient voters from the Third World."

There are distinct differences in messaging between Unite the Right, in which white supremacists used Confederate symbols and neo-Nazi aesthetics to nakedly promote white nationalism, and the Jan. 6 insurrection, in which Trump supporters filtered similar aims through QAnon, paranoid anticommunism, and a perverted version of patriotism.

Amy Spitalnick, executive director of Integrity First for America — the nonprofit that won the civil lawsuit against the organizers of Unite the Right — is among those who see distinct similarities between the two events.

RELATED: Richard Spencer tries to sanitize white nationalism as Charlottesville defendants stumble to the finish line

"The four years in between have shown us how much of this extremism has moved into the mainstream," she said. "If you look at the tools and tactics, there are many, many parallels, from the use of social media to plan the violence to explicit discussion of the use of free speech instruments like flagpoles as weapons, to the immediate finger-pointing to 'antifa, blaming them for the violence that far-right extremists were responsible for to even some of the ideology.

"While Charlottesville was explicitly white nationalist with holocaust imagery, and with KKK and Nazi paraphernalia like the tiki torches that are meant to evoke dark periods of our history, on January 6th when you think about 'stopping the steal,' it also speaks at its core to this same idea: There's a plot to steal the country from largely white Christians," Spitalnick continued. "That idea that Jews will not replace us is at the core of Unite the Right, but it's also at the core of Jan. 6. We've seen how these ideas have been mainstreamed, from Tucker Carlson giving replacement theory a home on Fox News every night to Republican politicians talking about it."

The two dozen leaders and organizations that were in trial earlier this month in Charlottesville have not been the primary drivers of far-right radicalization over the past four years. While the defendants who were the central organizers of Unite the Right have been financially hobbled by ongoing litigation, some of those who attended the rally played important roles in organizing support for the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol.

Nicholas Fuentes, who attended the rally as an 18-year-old Boston University student, gushed on Facebook on Aug. 12, 2017: "The rootless transnational elite knows that a tidal wave of white identity is coming. And they know that once the word gets outs, they will not be able to stop us. The fire rises!"

RELATED: 'You made my skin crawl': Charlottesville trial goes off the rails as defendants accuse one another of sociopathy

More than three years later, Fuentes was recruited to bring the legion of young, white men known — known as "Groypers" — that follow him into the #StopTheSteal coalition. Introduced by #StopTheSteal organizer Ali Alexander, Fuentes ascended a stepladder and addressed Trump supporters outside of the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta on Nov. 21, 2020.

"This is an intergenerational struggle of the real American people that constitute this country over and against the global special interests that have taken it over," Fuentes said, electrifying the crowd. "If we are unsuccessful in our struggle to secure President Trump another term in office, then that will institute and introduce the rule of global corporations over this country.

"What is at stake is nothing short of our civilizational inheritance," Fuentes continued, using language strikingly similar to that of Richard Spencer, the marquee leader at Unite the Right. "We Americans have inherited the greatest civilization in the history of the world, and we're not giving it up without a fight." Launching into a transphobic rant accusing global elites of harboring "sick plans" for Americans, Fuentes then falsely equated immigration with criminality, claiming that the globalists "want dirt and scum and crime on these streets." He declared: "This is not a Third World country; this is the United States of America!"

The Proud Boys, which also emerged from the alt-right movement that rode Trump's coattails, are likewise intertwined with the organizing efforts surrounding Unite the Right, though they evaded legal liability in Charlottesville.

RELATED: Former white nationalist leader gives damning testimony against Charlottesville defendants

As well as being a contributor to the Daily Caller, Kessler was also a member of the Proud Boys. As the complaint in the civil suit noted, prior to Unite the Right, Kessler organized a "Proud Boys" event in Charlottesville in which he was initiated into the gang by being beaten in an alley until he could name five breakfast cereals. The plaintiffs introduced into evidence an article published by defendant organization Traditionalist Worker Party entitled, "Proud Boys are Cordially Invited to Unite the Right."

But shortly before Unite the Right, Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnis publicly disavowed the event. Many Proud Boys, including future national chairman Enrique Tarrio, attended anyway. Shane Reeves, a Proud Boy from Colorado posted a photo of himself on Facebook providing a security escort for Augustus Sol Invictus at Unite the Right. Invictus led the short-lived Fraternal Order of the Alt-Knights, formed as the "tactical defense arm" of the Proud Boys. Both Invictus and Fraternal Order of the Alt-Knight were defendants in the Charlottesville lawsuit. Although they did not show up in court to represent themselves during the trial, the plaintiffs are seeking a default judgement against them.

"It is still an overwhelming experience to process, and the men I met that day I consider brothers for life," Reeves wrote in the Facebook post.

As other far-right groups dealt with the legal fallout and public-relations backlash after Unite the Right, over the ensuing four years the Proud Boys would engage in escalating street violence against left-wing adversaries, build ties with the GOP, and supply foot soldiers to the effort to prevent Joe Biden from taking office. Dozens of Proud Boys face federal charges in connection with the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol.

RELATED: Charlottesville Nazis resurrect Trump's 'both sides' argument in attempt to discredit pastor who protested Unite the Right

"The clearest winners from Unite the Right were the Proud Boys," said Alexander Reid Ross, a doctoral fellow at the Center for Analysis of the Radical Right. "They backed out. There's a part of the alt-right within the Unite the Right coalition that was able to bring that legacy further into fascism. That was the Proud Boys.

"McInnis recognized astutely in a sense that with the National Socialist Movement getting involved, it was going to be a debacle," Ross continued. "It was always going to be associated with the Nazi movement, and not just the broad right wing. He disassociated at the last minute. But the Proud Boys are interwoven with Unite the Right. Tarrio was there, as well as the Fraternal Order of the Alt-Knights."

At least one person who attended Unite the Right has also been charged in connection with the storming of the US Capitol: Tim Gionet aka Baked Alaska.

The plaintiffs introduced evidence showing a text message between Kessler and Gionet, who is prominent far-right live-streamer.

On. Aug. 8, 2017, Gionet tweeted a photo of himself pointing a pistol at a camera, accompanied by the misogynistic text: "Get in b*** we are saving the world." On Jan. 6, 2021, Gionet live-streamed himself inside a Capitol office saying, "America First is inevitable. F*** globalists, let's go."

RELATED: Converting betrayal into mobilization for violent action: How the Oath Keepers radicalize military veterans

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), who serves on the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, is among those who have drawn a tight connection between that event and Unite the Right.

"The events in Charlottesville in 2017 were a nightmare and a precursor and a foreshadowing of everything that would unfold over the next four years, culminating in the violent insurrection against the union on January 6th, the attack on our US Capitol," Raskin said during an online fundraiser for Integrity First for America on Sept. 30.

The most horrific aspect of Unite the Right — James Fields' deadly car attack — has unfortunately become a common feature in white vigilante response to antiracist protests.

As the civil complaint detailed, the tactic was already gaining mainstream acceptance prior to August 2017. In January 2017, Fox News' opinion website tweeted out a video entitled "Reel of Cars Plowing Through Protestors Trying to Block the Road" that had originally appeared on the Daily Caller.

RELATED: Charlottesville Nazis resurrect Trump's 'both sides' argument in attempt to discredit pastor who protested Unite the Right

"One thought that perhaps the car attack in Charlottesville would diminish that strategy, and the Daily Caller deleted the post," Ross said. But in 2020, there was an unprecedented number of car attacks — 129 since the beginning of the George Floyd protests in May 2020, and an additional five since the beginning of 2021.

"The Charlottesville car attack is a propaganda of the deed," Ross said. "It publicized the act; people see it as possible and sort of proliferate it."

While Biden's election marks a victory for progressives, many observers continue to see far-right politics making inroads in American politics. Ross said that in the aftermath of Unite the Right, the Proud Boys were perfectly positioned to push forward the process of fascism.

"Their mission is to restore Western civilization to the seat of power culturally," he said. "Their approach to doing it is a performance: If they can beat up enough of the people who disagree with them, they can show they're superior and spread the myth of the crusading knights of Western civilization. It's kind of like what the Klan did. They're more inclusive than the Klan; they don't exclude Catholics. But the underpinning of their ideology is white nationalist."

Whatever the seeds of right-wing radicalization, there's little doubt that extremism has taken a tighter hold since Unite the Right.

"I think people are sleeping on the idea that there's a wide swath of America that is radicalized," said Shawn Breen, an independent researcher who has tracked many of the participating groups since before and after Unite the Right rally. "Not necessarily due to these groups. They've been radicalized by proxy, by Trump and the GOP. People that weren't receptive to these groups then would be a lot more receptive now."

In a number of respects, the GOP base and what was known as the alt-right in 2017 have arrived at the same place.

"I think you can watch Tucker Carlson, and see many of the alt-right's positions put plain and simple," Ross said. "He goes off on the Great Replacement. He says white Americans are being replaced by immigrants. He specifies white conservative Americans being replaced by immigrants."

Another point of convergence is admiration for Hungary.

Mike Peinovich, who was dismissed as one of the original defendants in the Charlottesville lawsuit, went on to co-found the National Justice Party, which is modeled after the ruling Fidesz party in Hungary. And in August, Carlson traveled to Hungary to meet the country's authoritarian leader, Viktor Orban.

"The positioning of Hungary as an international center for conservatism — that is deeply disturbing," Ross said. "This is a deeply authoritarian situation in Hungary. It's admired for sure by the alt-right today with the National Justice Party. You can see the alt-right and the Republican Party reconverging over the dual exigency of illiberal populism."

So far, at least, Ross said, Carlson has refrained from explicit antisemitism.

"Tucker Carlson will simply use liberals as a stand-in for the role played by the Jews," Ross said. "He talks about [liberal financier George] Soros a lot. He promotes conspiracy theories, but he doesn't make those the obvious center of his politics; it's more obscure. That might be changing. We've seen in the US an increase in attacks on Jews. We've seen major sports stars and comedians come out with antisemitic extremism. I think we're witnessing a frightening increase in antisemitism in the mainstream of the United States. I think they're preparing the ground for openly antisemitic populism."

In her closing remarks during the Sept. 30 fundraiser, Spitalnick said the goal of the lawsuit against the neo-Nazis who organized the Unite the Right rally was multifaceted.

"This case is about making clear the consequences of violent hate, about winning accountability for our plaintiffs, who survived the unthinkable; for the community of Charlottesville, which was violently targeted by the extremists who descended on their city from around the country," she said. "It's about setting a precedent serving as an example of how you can bring violent extremists to justice, and deterring others from participating in the next violent act."

But Spitalnick wanted to make sure the last point didn't get overlooked.

"And it's about helping to wake up our country to the crisis of white supremacy and hate," she said.

'Violent hate won't go unanswered': Plaintiffs and community celebrate Charlottesville verdict

The decision by a Virginia jury to find the organizers of Unite the Right liable for conspiracy to commit racial, religious and ethnic harassment and violence was hailed by the legal team and the Charlottesville community today.

"This case has sent a clear message: Violent hate won't go unanswered," said Amy Spitalnick, the executive director of Integrity First for America, the civil rights nonprofit that brought the landmark lawsuit on behalf of nine local residents injured during the violent 2017 white nationalist rally. "There will be accountability."

The jury ordered defendants to pay about $25 million in damages.

In the aftermath of the rally, James Alex Fields' assault was greeted with horror, but since then car attacks have steadily risen, including an incident this week in which a driver targeted people in Manchester, Ct. who were protesting the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict.

That case, which centered on a more recent flashpoint over the nation's struggle with race, violence and far-right extremism, sent an entirely different signal — that white vigilantes have license to commit violence against racial justice protesters and will be viewed as protectors of law and order.

The Charlottesville case, similarly, took on a larger national significance, and a verdict in favor of the defendants would have likely been received as a green light for new acts of coordinated white supremacist violence.

"These judgements underscore the major financial, legal and operational consequences for violent hate — even beyond the significant impacts this case has already had," Spitalnick said. "And at a moment of rising extremism, major threats to democracy, and far too little justice, this case has provided a model for accountability."

But the 11 jurors deadlocked over two federal civil rights claims which would have found that the defendants engaged in a conspiracy to commit racially motivated violence, and instead found the defendants liable under a similarly worded Virginia state law civil conspiracy claim.

Community groups in Charlottesville, including the local chapters of Black Lives Matter and Showing Up for Racial Justice, issued a statement celebrating the verdict while also emphasizing the importance of opposing white power extremists in the streets.

"We honor the plaintiffs in the trial, all of whom showed up for our community on August 11th and 12th, 2017," the groups said. "These plaintiffs were subject to further abuse from the white supremacist defendants during the trial itself. We ask everyone to continue to support all of the survivors (including Black and Brown community members), many of whom have ongoing trauma.

"While the focus has been on the court system and this trial, we emphasize that any victories we've earned over white supremacy have been because regular everyday people were willing to get in the streets and confront white supremacy," the statement continued. "Disruption works. Protest works. Our racist confederate statues are finally gone. Many of the 2017 white supremacist groups have splintered and imploded."

The plaintiffs, including Natalie Romero, a University of Virginia student whose skull was fractured as a result of the car attack, said in a statement: "Today, we can celebrate the jury's verdict finally holding defendants like Jason Kessler, Richard Spencer and Christopher Cantwell accountable for what they did to us and to everyone else in the Charlottesville community who stood up to hate in August 2017. Our single greatest hope is that today's verdict will encourage others to feel safer raising our collective voices in the future to speak up for human dignity and against white supremacy."

The jury found all defendants liable in the Virginia state conspiracy claim, including Kessler, Spencer, Cantwell, James Fields, Robert "Azzmador" Ray, Nathan Damigo, Elliott Kline, Matthew Heimbach, David Matthew Parrott, Michael Hill, Michael Tubbs, Jeff Schoep, League of the South, Vanguard America, National Socialist Movement, Identity Evropa and Traditionalist Worker Party.

Co-lead counsel Roberta Kaplan told Judge Norman K. Moon following the verdict that the plaintiffs plan to file a default judgement against other defendants who did not respond to the lawsuit, including Andrew Anglin, Moonbase Holdings LLC, Augustus Sol Invictus, Nationalist Front and East Coast Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

Kaplan and co-lead counsel Karen Dunn expressed gratitude for the verdict.

"The evidence was overwhelming that leaders of the white supremacist movement from all over the country planned for months to bring violence and intimidation to the streets of Charlottesville and that our brave clients, among many others, were injured when they dared to stand up for their values," they said. "Today's verdict sends a loud and clear message that facts matter, the law matters, and that the laws of this country will not tolerate the use of violence to deprive racial and religious minorities of the basic right we all share to live as free and equal citizens."

IN OTHER NEWS: Jen Psaki turns the tables on Peter Doocy after he asks if Biden will apologize to Kyle Rittenhouse

Jen Psaki turns the tables on Peter Doocy after he asks if Biden will apologize to Kyle Rittenhouse

Charlottesville defendants found liable for civil conspiracy and ordered to pay millions in damages

Returning a verdict against dozens of white supremacist leaders and organizations who organized Unite the Right, a Virginia jury has awarded more than $25 million in damages to nine plaintiffs who were injured in the violence during the chaotic rally that ended with a car attack by James Fields.

The defendants were found liable in four of six counts, including a Virginia state conspiracy claim that they subjected the plaintiffs to racial, religious or ethnic harassment or violence. But the mixed-race jury deadlocked on a major claim in the civil case against the organizers, whether they engaged in a conspiracy to commit racially motivated violence.

The plaintiffs presented evidence over the course of the four-week trial showing that the defendants meticulously planned the Unite the Right rally on the digital chat platform Discord. While the ostensible reason for the rally was to support two Confederate monuments slated for removal in Charlottesville, the organizers' private communications revealed that their true inspiration was a violent rally four months earlier in Berkeley, Calif. and that they hoped to bait left-wing opponents into the streets, and as primary organizer Jason Kessler put it, "fight this shit out."

The evidence showed that Kessler quickly reached out to Matthew Heimbach, an avowed fascist and antisemite who led the Traditionalist Worker Party and had already organized a coalition of "hard right" white supremacist groups that included League of the South, the National Socialist Movement and Vanguard America. All the organizations sent members to Charlottesville, and the leader of Vanguard America wound up providing a shield to Fields before he drove his car into counter-protesters.

RELATED: 'Excited about killing Jewish people': Blockbuster Charlottesville testimony suggests Nazi defendants had bigger goals

After securing a commitment from Spencer — then the most famous figure in the alt-right movement that emerged on the coattails of Donald Trump's 2016 election — for the headlining speaker slot, Kessler wrote in a phone text: "We are raising an army, my liege, for free speech but the cracking of skulls, if it comes to it." The plaintiffs also presented evidence that Elliot Kline, both a lieutenant to Spencer and a leader of Identity Evropa, organized Unite the Right alongside Kessler. Kline's former girlfriend, Samantha Froelich, testified that he was obsessed with exterminating Jews, saying he would "gas the kikes forever." Robert "Azzmador" Ray, a contributing writer for the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer, mentioned in a Discord chat in the month prior to Unite the Right that had "just got done with an hourlong chat with some of the organizers and I feel better about the thing. The plan is the same: Gas the kikes." After macing counter-protesters at the Aug. 11 torch march, Ray reported to his fellow neo-Nazis: "I personally literally gassed half a dozen kikes."

Counsel for the defendants argued that Fields car attack was not reasonably foreseeable or intended by the defendants, who anticipated only pushing and shoving, or, at most, fist fights, but the jury evidently didn't buy it. The defendants all testified that they did not know Fields and had not seen him prior to his appearance at the Aug. 12, 2017 rally.

Plaintiff Natalie Romero was injured in Fields' car attack, which left her with a fractured skull, a cleft lip, persistent headaches and trouble maintaining balance. Romero and co-plaintiff Devin Willis were among a small group of University of Virginia students who linked arms around a statue of Thomas Jefferson during a torch march in which white nationalists made monkey noises at them and threw lit torches at their feet while macing, punching and kicking others. All the plaintiffs, who include a pastor, a landscaper, a paralegal who recently passed the bar exam, testified that they have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of physical injuries or emotional distress.

As she and a dozen or so counter-protesters linked arms around statue, Romero described the sound of the approaching torch marchers as "almost like thunder, like the earth was growling." She recalled that they chanted "Blood and soil" and "White power."

RELATED: 'You made my skin crawl': Charlottesville trial goes off the rails as defendants accuse one another of sociopathy

"There's another that I hate repeating," Romero testified. "I like, hear it in my nightmares. If my phone buzzes, I hear the same cadence, the 'You will not replace us.' That one is just so terrifying to hear the whole time."

Read all of Raw Story's coverage of the trial here.

IN OTHER NEWS: Jen Psaki turns the tables on Peter Doocy after he asks if Biden will apologize to Kyle Rittenhouse

Jen Psaki turns the tables on Peter Doocy after he asks if Biden will apologize to Kyle Rittenhouse

Richard Spencer tries to sanitize white nationalism as Charlottesville defendants stumble to the finish line

Richard Spencer pontificated on his belief in white nationalism and the lawyer for Matthew Heimbach played a YouTube video of the former Traditionalist Worker Party leader condemning "the international Jewish system" during their closing arguments on Thursday, as they defended themselves against conspiracy claims for their role in organizing the violent 2017 Unite the Right rally.

Roberta Kaplan, lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the case brought by Integrity First for America, cited evidence of Heimbach discussing "RaHoWa," short for "racial holy war," and an essay by Spencer mentioning a "cataclysm" that would to bring about the white ethno-state the defendants sought to create.

"Take them at their word," Kaplan said. "Race means race, and war means war. It's racially motivated violence."

Nine plaintiffs who were injured during James Fields' car attack after the Aug. 12 rally ended in a state of emergency, a torch march on the campus of the University of Virginia the night before or when rallygoers bashed through counter-protesters are seeking damages from the two dozen defendants, who included leaders and organizations who were at the forefront of the white power movement in 2017. The plaintiffs are asking the jury to find the 24 co-defendants liable for conspiring to cause racially motivated violence under a provision of the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act, which was passed to protect former slaves from racial violence.

RELATED: Here's how 'Crying Nazi' Chris Cantwell prepared for his Charlottesville trial

The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory damages of $7 million to $10 million for the defendants who were injured in the car attack and $3 million to $5 million for those who were injured in other violent incidents during the rally. Kaplan reminded the jurors they can impose additional punitive damages, suggesting they ask themselves: "What would it take to make sure the defendants and their co-conspirators never do something like this again?"

Spencer, the self-avowed leader of the alt-right — a rebranding of the white power movement — directly addressed a text exchanged with co-defendant Christopher Cantwell in the days leading up to the August 2017 rally. Judge Norman K. Moon had previously told the parties he views the text as being at the crux of the plaintiffs' claim that the defendants entered an agreement to engage in unlawful activity.

Concerned about the possibility that the permit for the rally would be withdrawn, Cantwell had texted Spencer to say that he was "willing to risk a lot for our cause, including violence and incarceration" and suggested they "coordinate."

As Spencer acknowledged to the jury on Thursday, he responded: "It's worth it, at least for me."

RELATED: Unite the Right defendant Chris Cantwell ends Charlottesville trial by incriminating himself -- again

Addressing the jury directly, Spencer said, "I absolutely endorse that sentiment."

Seeking to counter expert witness testimony from Peter Simi, a professor at Chapman University, who told the court that violence is intrinsic to the white supremacist movement, Spencer attempted to sanitize white nationalism for the jury, which includes both white and Black members.

"White nationalism is about family," he argued. "It's about us. It's about being a part of something bigger than yourself, being willing to risk things, and being dedicated so it can survive further. That is a cause I would risk quite a bit for."

Judge Moon interrupted Spencer's closing argument three times, including when he warned the jury that if they find the defendants liable, "lawsuits like this can be used as a weapon against free speech."

RELATED: 'You made my skin crawl': Charlottesville trial goes off the rails as defendants accuse one another of sociopathy

"This jury has this lawsuit," Moon admonished Spencer, "and there are issues I've instructed the jury on. They're not to be worried about anything outside of this case."

Moon also stopped Spencer from speaking when he strayed beyond the evidence in the case by trying to discuss a media interview with Kaplan and by citing Jesus as a "radical" and an "extremist."

The defendants attempted to distance themselves from Fields, described by his lawyer, David Campbell, as a "lone wolf."

James Kolenich, who represents lead organizer Jason Kessler, along with Identity Evropa and its founder Nathan Damigo, admitted that defendants wanted a fight with counter-protesters, but tried to dispel the notion that they conspired to engineer a car attack.

RELATED: 'Unite the Right' defendants wanted a violent 'battle of Charlottesville' -- and lawyers just showed the receipts to prove it

"They have to prove agreement by Jason Kessler to hit counter-protesters with a car," Kolenich said. "What they have not proven is that Jason Kessler agreed to hit people in such a fashion…. The evidence in the case shows that whether it's Kessler or Damigo, the evidence shows all they agreed to do is get in a fist fight, pushing and shoving, throwing rocks and bottles. They had done it before, and it's what they expected to happen again.

"They wanted to fight Antifa, but they want to get away with it," Kolenich continued. "They want to have a legal reason, not plausible deniability. When they're talking about violence, when they're talking about fighting, when they're talking about blood in the streets, it's pushing and shoving, maybe sticks. Rocks. Bottles. They are not talking about a car."

Karen Dunn, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, told the jurors they had been misled by the defense counsel's explanation of the law. She told them that the requirement that the violence be reasonably foreseeable doesn't necessarily mean they need to specifically foresee a car attack, but rather that the violence anticipated has to be of a similar nature and magnitude.

"This was not about a little fist fight; this was about 'raising an army […] for the cracking of skulls,'" she said, citing a phone text from Kessler to Spencer.

She also cited language by Cantwell after the event in which he boasted that Unite the Right "would not have happened if we didn't have people saying, 'Let's go crack some skulls.'" Dunn added that Cantwell's rhetoric was not "hypothetical," noting that plaintiff Natalie Romero's skull was fractured after she was struck by Fields' car.

Dunn also cited incidents of violence by Unite the Right rallygoers that included throwing lit torches at people, bashing people with shields, stabbing with flagpoles and choking.

Bryan Jones, representing defendants League of the South and two of its members, and Cantwell both tried to persuade the jurors that counter-protesters, not the white nationalists, were responsible for the violence and chaos in Charlottesville.

"When the defendants talked about communists, they were referring to people who show up at their rallies wearing communist insignia, communist colors, and try to obstruct their right to free speech," Jones told the jury. "Are the plaintiffs being honest with you when they talk about communists not being real?"

Cantwell cited a video of the Aug. 11 torch march that captured counter-protesters saying, "They're coming up the lawn," "This is important to all of us," and "Heads down, you all" before they began chanting, "No Nazis, no KKK, no fascist USA," as somehow being evidence of a malign conspiracy against the white nationalist torch marchers.

"Diversity of tactics," Cantwell sneered. "This is a scam. This is a lie. It's a trick on you, and it should upset you. We have sympathetic victims embedded with criminal conspirators."

Cantwell's closing argument also included an admission that he pleaded guilty to assaulting Emily Gorcenski, the transgender woman whose video he showed to the jury, and another counter-protester.

Narrating another video, Cantwell provided a blow-by-blow narration of his fights at the torch march.

"That's the guy I pepper-sprayed a little while ago; he's not a UVA student either," Cantwell said. "You see me punching this guy with the blue shirt. The guy on the statue is trying to pepper spray me."

Plaintiffs Devin Willis and Natalie Romero, two University of Virginia students who are respectively African-American and Colombian-American, have testified that the white nationalists yelled racial slurs at them and flung lit torches at their feet as they linked arms with other counter-protesters around the Thomas Jefferson statue. While presenting his case, Cantwell has taken care to note that all the people he assaulted during the torch march were white.

"I don't need to prove to you that that's okay," he told the jury on Thursday. "You can believe it's a crime and it doesn't help one bit unless you can prove it's racially motivated and it caused their damages."

Cantwell, who gave the final closing argument for the defendants, ran at least 20 minutes over his allotted time, and after Judge Moon told him to wrap up, he used his remaining time to suggest that the counter-protesters were responsible for causing Fields to ram his car into them.

Earlier in the day, Fields' own lawyer, David Campbell, had directly contradicted the theory Cantwell attempted to develop, telling the jury: "James Fields intentionally drove his car into a crowd of people and severely injured these plaintiffs." Campbell added: "There's no doubt that James Fields committed racially motivated violence."

Rushing to finish, Cantwell called the jurors' attention to video of jubilant counter-protesters marching through downtown Charlottesville, believing that the white nationalists had left town, just before Fields' slammed his Dodge Challenger into them.

"I want you to imagine that you're walking down that street and you see that mob of people coming towards you," Cantwell said.

"Your time's up," Judge Moon said.

Cantwell persisted by mentioning a video of a counter-protester striking the car with a club as it sped past before blurting out, "I never said I endorsed the murder of Heather Heyer."

Karen Dunn, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs pulled up a tweet Cantwell made in 2018 in which he wrote, "If you think the alt-right is insignificant, you might want to ask the commie filth we sent to the morgue and the hospital how insignificant we are."

"Notice the word 'we,'" Dunn said. "He's part of a conspiracy. Heather Heyer is the one who was sent to the morgue."

Unite the Right defendant Chris Cantwell ends Charlottesville trial by incriminating himself -- again

A jury in a federal civil case to determine whether the dozens of white power extremist leaders and organizations involved in the 2017 Unite the Right rally were liable for conspiring to commit racially motivated violence has now heard all the evidence as the four-week trial in Virginia draws to a close.

Christopher Cantwell, a neo-Nazi podcaster who is representing himself, and the lawyer for two League of the South defendants wrapped up their cases on Wednesday morning by calling witnesses whose testimony they hoped would deflect blame onto left-wing counter-protesters.

Cantwell pursued a fruitless quest to get two plaintiffs who were victims of the racist violence to identify various other counter-protesters as part of an effort to conjure a conspiracy theory involving "Antifa" provocateurs who in his imagination instigated violence when white nationalists swarmed around a small group of counter-protesters, punched and kicked them, and flung lit torches at their feet on Aug. 11.

Cantwell also sought through his questioning of the witnesses to lay the groundwork for another conspiracy theory that would make members of a peaceful antiracist march responsible for co-defendant James Fields hitting them with his car after the rally ended with a state of emergency the following day.

READ MORE: Nazis' lawyers distance themselves from Chris Cantwell after he accuses Charlottesville victims of being 'Antifa'

Bryan Jones, representing the League of the South, its president Michael Hill and chief of staff Michael Tubbs, called Richard Hamblen to the stand.

Hamblen, who identified himself as the chairman of the League's Tennessee chapter, gave testimony about his involvement in a fight with counter-protesters as League of the South members and others were leaving the rally. Judge Norman K. Moon expressed puzzlement about Hamblen's testimony, questioning how it was relevant to the specific acts of violence attributed to any of the defendants.

Cantwell questioned Romero and Willis about some half-dozen counter-protesters who were present at the Aug. 11 torch march or the antiracist march that was violently ended by Fields' car attack. One by one, Willis and Romero testified that they did not recognize or know the other counter-protesters, with the exception of Emily Gorcenski, a data scientist who was assaulted by Cantwell at the torch march.

Cantwell's decision to call the two witnesses only succeeded in further implicating him in the violence that took place during the torch march. When the plaintiffs' counsel objected to Cantwell entering video into evidence without a proper foundation, Cantwell played it for Romero so she could identify the portion where she saw herself. While reviewing the video, Romero asked Cantwell: "Is that you? Go back a frame."

"That's me hitting this guy," Cantwell confirmed, referring to an unidentified counter-protester.

Romero told Cantwell that looking at the video she wondered if he had hit her, too.

"You're telling me that I punched you?" Cantwell asked.

"I can't say," Romero responded. "We were getting sideswipes by the fight that was right next to us."

Apparently forgetting his original objective of gleaning the names of counter-protesters, Cantwell eagerly embraced the new task.

"I've got the clip in slow motion," he told Romero. "Let's try to figure out if I hit you. Sound good?"

Eventually, Cantwell let the matter drop after the plaintiff's counsel objected that Romero had testified that he did not punch her.

The case put on by the League of the South defendants similarly ran aground.

Hamblen testified about getting knocked to the ground during a scuffle with counter-protesters that preceded the brutal beating of DeAndre Harris in the Market Street Parking Garage on Aug. 12. The plaintiffs had previously presented evidence that a Florida member of the League of the South was involved in the beating. Hamblen testified that Harris verbally taunted him and attempted to trip him prior to the beating. Moon questioned the relevancy of the testimony, noting that Harris is not a party to the case.

Beyond Hamblen's testimony about his brief encounter with Harris, he told the court about a fight that had even less bearing on the case, and arguably hurt the two members of his organization who are defendants.

"These three individuals in black tried to take my flag," Hamblen testified after watching a video of the fight. "I resisted and they beat me down." He added that one of the counter-protesters punched him in the head.

During cross-examination, plaintiffs' counsel confronted Hamblen with an email he sent to Hill acknowledging that he "lowered the staff toward her in the earhole of her helmet" after the counter-protester grabbed his flag. Hamblen acknowledged on the stand that the email showed him expressing concern that he could face criminal charges for his role in the fight.

Speaking to the parties outside of the presence of the jurors, Judge Moon summarized the key questions the jury will have to decide.

"The theory is that the defendants conspired by planning to come to Charlottesville with the idea that Antifa or protesters would be provoked into committing acts of violence, and that would justify the defendants taking retaliation against those persons that caused the violence," Moon told the parties. "I think the jury can infer from all the evidence that… the idea was to provoke violence, but respond in a greater degree than was necessary for self-defense…. I think there's sufficient evidence if the jury believes it that they could arrive at a verdict against the defendants."

Moon suggested the verdict will likely hinge on the jury's determination about the degree to which the violence at Unite the Right, particularly Fields' deadly car attack, was reasonably foreseeable by the defendants.

"The question would be if you anticipate a violent reaction, was Fields' conduct foreseeable?" Moon asked. "There had been talk on the internet about whether someone could drive a car through a crowd of demonstrators…. There's evidence that a number of defendants congratulated Fields. That supports the conclusion that such conduct by Fields could have been anticipated. It may not have been planned by anyone, but it was foreseeable that violent acts would happen."

Before recessing court at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Judge Moon gave the jurors a series of instructions. He told them they are permitted but not required to infer that defendants Elliott Kline, Robert "Azzmador" Ray, Matthew Heimbach, Vanguard America and the National Socialist Movement intentionally withheld or destroyed documents and electronic communications because they contained evidence that they planned to conspire to commit racially motivated violence.

On Tuesday, Moon gave the jury a similar instruction that they should take as true that Kline and Ray entered into an agreement with one or more co-conspirators to cause in racially motivate violence because they failed to cooperate with their discovery obligations, which is the central claim of the lawsuit.

Earlier in the trial, the jury heard testimony by video deposition from Benjamin Daley and Vasilios Pistolis, respectively members of Rise Above Movement and Atomwaffen, who committed assaults at Unite the Right. Daley and Pistolis repeatedly refused to answer questions, invoking their Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination. Moon told the jurors they may consider Daley and Pistolis' refusal to testify as an adverse inference against defendants if they can establish a sufficient association.

On Wednesday, Judge Moon also told the jurors that they might have noticed that Fields, who is currently serving life in prison for the murder of Heather Heyer, did not testify. Moon explained that Fields had refused to testify in a properly noticed deposition, and as a result of his misconduct the court sanctioned him by prohibiting him from testifying in his defense at trial to "level the evidentiary playing field."

Judge Moon told the jury that closing statements from the parties are likely to take most of the day tomorrow, and they should plan to begin deliberations on Friday morning.

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Judge warns Charlottesville defendants that they've already provided ample evidence to prove conspiracy

The jury empaneled to hear a federal civil conspiracy case could find that the defendants devised a plan to come to Charlottesville, Va. "with the idea of provoking a fight and applying an overwhelming response" based on the evidence presented so far, Judge Norman K. Moon told defendants Richard Spencer and Christopher Cantwell on Tuesday.

Spencer and Cantwell both entered motions to dismiss after the plaintiffs -- nine people who suffered physical injuries and emotional distress in a lawsuit brought by Integrity First for America -- rested their case on Tuesday.

Judge Moon declined to dismiss the claims against Spencer, a prominent white nationalist leader at the time of the 2017 Unite the Right rally, and Cantwell, neo-Nazi podcaster who brought guns, knives and pepper spray to Charlottesville for the rally. Moon told the two men that it will be up to the jury to decide whether they conspired to commit racially motivated violence in Charlottesville.

The judge cautioned Spencer and Cantwell that they seemed to not appreciate how low the bar is for proving a conspiracy.

READ: 'You made my skin crawl': Charlottesville trial goes off the rails as defendants accuse one another of sociopathy

"If you know that people are planning [racially motivated violence], and you join in with, you don't have to do much — just join in and be there," Moon said. "You have a misunderstanding, I'm afraid, of what the law of conspiracy is."

As evidence of conspiracy, Moon singled out a phone text exchanged by Cantwell and Spencer in the days leading up to the rally. Cantwell was concerned that the permit for the rally might be withdrawn, and what that might mean for his plans to exercise his permit to carry a firearm. Moon noted that Cantwell wrote that he was "willing to risk a lot for our cause, including violence and incarceration" and that he said he wanted "to coordinate to make sure it's worth it for our cause." He also noted that Spencer responded: "It's worth it, at least for me."

"That statement, along with other evidence could be taken to mean that Spencer and Cantwell were willing to risk violence for their cause but wanted to coordinate it ahead of time," Moon said.

Reciting a litany of evidence presented by the plaintiffs, Moon provided a response to Cantwell's motion to dismiss. The judge noted that Cantwell "admitted he seriously advocated for a white ethno-state and he advocated for violence on his podcast," while referencing at least two instances in which the defendant promoted the genocide of Jewish people, advocated the use of chemical and biological weapons, and said that immigration made him "want to bash people's skulls open."

READ: 'Unite the Right' defendants wanted a violent 'battle of Charlottesville' -- and lawyers just showed the receipts to prove it

Moon took note that Cantwell purchased pepper-spray canisters in Charlottesville and assaulted counter-protesters at the University of Virginia on Aug. 11.

"Cantwell marched in a torch march; he pepper-sprayed and beat up someone," Moon said. "You've got an explanation, but there's no self-defense after you're not in danger. Because someone hits you, that doesn't give a right to beat them within an inch of their life."

Later, when Cantwell put on his defense case, he walked the jury through two videos depicting the torch march, pointing out various counter-protesters whom he assaulted or claimed had threatened him. Cantwell suggested during his testimony that his actions were taken in self-defense.

One of the videos presented as evidence by Cantwell was filmed by Emily Gorcenski, a data scientist.

READ: Former white nationalist leader gives damning testimony against Charlottesville defendants

"This is the transgender person that was filming," Cantwell said at one point. "I have no interest in causing this person any kind of harm. If this is the kind of thing you're making it out to be, this person would not be safe in this crowd."

During cross-examination, plaintiffs' counsel Michael Bloch reminded Cantwell that he had previously pleaded guilty to two counts of assault and battery in state court related to his conduct at the torch march. One of the victims in the case that resulted in Cantwell's guilty pleas was Gorcenski.

Spencer took a different tack while putting on his defense case.

Spencer replayed an audio recording capturing him exploding in a rage-filled rant peppered with anti-Semitic and racial slurs hours after the deadly car attack that took the life of Heather Heyer. While Spencer characterized his outburst as being representative of "the worst part of me," he suggested that it undermined the theory that he went to Charlottesville seeking violence.

READ: Charlottesville Nazis tripped by extremism expert after he decodes their 'doublespeak' on the witness stand

"I never imagined that what was going to happen was going to happen," he testified. "The idea that we planned this chaos is undermined by my visceral reaction at the time."

In another significant development on Tuesday, Judge Moon instructed the 12 jurors that they should deem as true that two defendants, Elliott Kline and Robert "Azzmador" Ray, entered into an agreement with one or more co-conspirators to engage in racially motivated violence. Moon explained to the jurors that the instruction was the result of evidentiary sanctions against the two defendants because they failed to comply with their discovery obligations.

Ray was a contributing writer for the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer from 2016 to 2020, while Kline was a leader of Identity Evropa from April 2017 through August 2017.

The jury also heard new testimony from Cantwell, as well as testimony from Benjamin Daley of the defunct neo-Nazi group Rise Above Movement that helped bring into focus Kline's role in organizing and promoting violence at Unite the Right.

Daley and three other members of Rise Above Movement — Michael Miselis, Thomas Gillen and Cole White — previously pled guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to riot related to their conduct at the Unite the Right rally.

READ: Nazis' own words get used against them to prove they came to Charlottesville with violent intent

The factual basis for the plea agreement reached by four men from southern California describes Rise Above Movement as a "combat-ready, militant group" of white nationalists that held hand-to-hand combat training for members "to prepare to engage in violent confrontations with protesters and other individuals at purported 'political' rallies." After clashing with counter-protesters at a rally in Huntington Beach, Calif. on March 25, 2017, Rise Above Movement members traveled to a violent confrontation with leftists in Berkeley, Calif. on April 15 that would later be cited by Jason Kessler as a template for Unite the Right.

In his video deposition, which the jury heard on Tuesday, Daley testified that the Rise Above Movement fighters met members of Identity Evropa, including founder Nathan Damigo, in Berkeley on April 15. After the formal event at Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park ended, rally attendees and counter-protesters poured into the surrounding streets. A video of Damigo punching a counter-protester spread earned him fame within the alt-right movement and the praise of Spencer, while Rise Above Movement members punched, stomped, kicked and pepper-sprayed counter-protesters, according to the factual basis for their plea agreement.

Daley committed to attending Unite the Right in late July 2017. He bragged on a Discord server used to organize the rally that he and his fellow Rise Above Movement members were "experienced at these events" and that "all were in Berkeley riots," according to court documents.

Daley and three other members attended the Aug. 11 torch march at the University of Virginia, and Daley admitted in a 2018 Facebook conversation that he "hit like 5 people," according to the factual basis document. During his testimony on Tuesday, Christopher Cantwell identified Daley in a video depicting the two men involved in the assault on counter-protesters who were surrounding the Thomas Jefferson statue.

The Rise Above Movement members showed up in downtown Charlottesville on the morning of Aug. 12 with their hands wrapped in athletic tape. Pushing through a group of counter-protesters to get to Emancipation Park, "RAM members collectively pushed, punched, kicked, choked, head-butted, and otherwise assaulted several individuals, resulting in a riot" according to the factual basis document. Daley acknowledged by signing the factual basis document that he grabbed, punched and kicked four different counter-protesters during the melee. In one instance, Daley grabbed a counter-protester, and he and Kline together threw her off the sidewalk.

"Was there a moment on Aug. 12, when you choked a counter-protester and you and Elliott Kline threw her off the sidewalk," plaintiffs' counsel asked Daley after showing him video of the incident.

Daley invoked the Fifth Amendment to avoid self-incrimination.

"She has blood streaming down the side of her face," plaintiffs' counsel said.

"It would appear so," Daley agreed.

The plaintiffs' counsel asked Daley if he agreed that "the violence that you were a part of" at Unite the Right "was not self-defense."

"I'm required by the terms of my plea agreement to say this, and yes, it is true," Daley replied.

During his testimony, Cantwell played a video that he recorded of a so-called "leadership meeting" prior to the Aug. 11 torch march, highlighting his efforts to promote cooperation with law enforcement. In the video, Kessler can be heard informing the group that news of the planned torch march had leaked, and they should decide whether they wanted to go through with the plan.

"If we're going to do it at all, I want the cops involved," Cantwell said.

Cantwell's recording of the leadership meeting and Gorcenski's livestream video of the torch march — both offered as evidence by Cantwell — captured Kline giving the marchers instructions for volunteers to form an outside "security" flank on either side of the torch march. If they saw counter-protesters, Kline instructed, the security volunteers should move between them and the torch marchers.

During cross-examination, Cantwell identified Kline giving another set of instructions during the leadership meeting.

"At five o'clock we're going to start bussing people over," Kline said. "Anyone who is a fighter needs to be here at 5 a.m."

Defendants are expected to finish making their case tomorrow, and the parties agreed they will give closing arguments on Thursday. The trial is scheduled to run through the end of the week, and Judge Moon expressed concern that the jury might not have enough time to deliberate.

"I don't want the jury to rush through to get through this thing on Friday," he told the parties. "I think the jury's going to be tired and want to get out of here."

The plaintiffs agreed to cut their closing argument down to two and a half hours to keep the trial on schedule. The defendants will have three and a half hours, to be divided between five lawyers, along with Spencer and Cantwell as the two pro se defendants.

Alluding to the way the defendants have undercut one another during the trial, Cantwell complained that the allotment of time puts the defendants at a disadvantage.

"I don't think all the defendants are similarly situated as the plaintiffs," he said.

Judge Moon disagreed, noting that the plaintiffs have to talk about individual damages.

"They have one theory to pursue," Cantwell said.

'You made my skin crawl': Charlottesville trial goes off the rails as defendants accuse one another of sociopathy

Jason Kessler, the primary organizer of the violent 2017 Unite the Right rally, took the witness stand in a Charlottesville federal courtroom on Monday, where he was cross-examined by none other than fellow white nationalist leader Richard Spencer.

Kessler and Spencer are codefendants in a civil trial brought by the nonprofit Integrity First for America on behalf of nine people physically injured or emotionally traumatized in the chaotic events on Aug. 11-12, 2017.

Judging by the bitterly personal way the two men went at each other, they seemed more intent on assuring one another's mutual destruction than defending themselves against the claim that they conspired to commit racially motivated violence.

Kessler landed the first blow during direct examination when lawyer Karen Dunn brought up an angry diatribe laced with racist and anti-Semitic slurs when Spencer learned about the death of Heather Heyer after he and other organizers fled Charlottesville in the aftermath of the car attack.

READ: 'Unite the Right' defendants wanted a violent 'battle of Charlottesville' -- and lawyers just showed the receipts to prove it

Dunn asked Kessler if he remembered Spencer saying, "Little f*cking k*kes. They get ruled by people like me. Little f*cking octoroons. I f*cking… my ancestors f*cking enslaved those little pieces of f*cking shit."

"Yeah, he's a sociopath," Kessler testified. (In 2019, while tweeting out the audio of Spencer's rant, Kessler had described him as a "sociopath and narcissist.")

"That's the real Richard Spencer?" Dunn prodded.

"Yeah, I think so," Kessler obliged.

During his cross-examination, Spencer wanted to dig into the matter further.

"When did you determine that I was a sociopathic narcissist?" Spencer asked.

"It was over a long period of time," Kessler replied. "The first time I met you, you made my skin crawl."

Kessler added that his first impression was that Spencer was "inhuman, like speaking to a robot or a serial killer."

Becoming increasingly emotional, Kessler complained that after the Unite the Right rally, Spencer and co-defendant Elliott Kline "were accusing me of being a Jew because I wouldn't sieg heil with you."

Spencer used his cross-examination to ferret out information about who leaked the damning audio — a tidbit that makes for salacious gossip in far-right circles but is likely to have little evidentiary value in his case.

"Did you record it?" Spencer asked Kessler.

"No," Kessler responded.

"Do you know who did?" Spencer asked.

Kessler mentioned a nickname, Spencer followed up.

"Dave Reilly ring a bell?" he asked.

"That's the guy," Kessler confirmed.

Reilly was an evening host at the WHLM radio station in Pennsylvania at the time he attended Unite the Right. He is currently running for a seat on the Post Falls School Board in Idaho.

Spencer also confronted Kessler with evidence that the plaintiffs had introduced earlier in the day that he called "quite revelatory to me."

The plaintiffs had introduced evidence showing a June 2017 exchange on Facebook Messenger between Kessler and Derrick Davis, the quartermaster and Virginia regional director of Traditionalist Worker Party. The two discussed a plot to bait antiracist activists into a confrontation as a ploy to help Kessler obtain free publicity for the upcoming Unite the Right rally.

One of the messages quoted Kessler as saying, "It might take a little extra prodding to get SURJ out to the Double Horse Shoe," referencing a Charlottesville bar and the acronym for the antiracist group Standing Up for Racial Justice. There was brief discussion about recruiting someone to impersonate Spencer, but the idea was quickly dismissed as unfeasible.

Kessler suggested planting the false information that Spencer was part of the group, reportedly dictating a message in quotes that Davis should send out through sock account designed to look like a left-wing social media profile.

"Jason Kessler and his group of fascists are meeting with Richard Spencer right now at the Double Horse Shoe and talking about plans for Aug. 12," Kessler reportedly instructed Davis to write.

"I was not in town on June 10, but you wanted to find someone to impersonate me in order to start a fight at a bar?" Spencer asked Kessler while he was on the stand on Monday.

"I was trying to get attention for my political message," Kessler testified. "People hate you, and we knew that would get their attention. We were trying to get people riled up."

"Is this your M.O., in a way, to use people like me to get people riled up?" Spencer asked.

Kessler refused to back down

"There's a suppression of any pro-white message," he said, "so any controversy goes a long way."

Spencer ended his cross-examination by suggesting that Kessler was projecting when he labeled him a "sociopath" and a "narcissist," and then asked Kessler if he had ever been diagnosed with mental illness.

One of the other lawyers objected, and Spencer ended his questioning.

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'Unite the Right' defendants wanted a violent 'battle of Charlottesville' -- and lawyers just showed the receipts to prove it

Jason Kessler, a onetime gadfly conservative journalist and neo-Confederate activist who convened an array of violent white nationalist groups under the banner of the Unite the Right rally in 2017, took the witness stand in a federal courtroom in Charlottesville, Va. on Monday.

Plaintiffs' counsel confronted Kessler with a tranche of planning documents suggesting the Confederate monuments at the center of the rally were little more than a pretext for an effort to harness the energy from a series of confrontations with leftist counter-protesters that the organizers hoped would bring a violent, fascist movement intent on creating a white ethno-state into full bloom.

As Karen Dunn, a lead counsel for the plaintiffs, briskly walked Kessler through the evidence, he became increasingly combative, by turns defiant and evasive, while also lashing out at his co-defendants.

Kessler and neo-Nazi podcaster Christopher Cantwell were the final witnesses among two dozen defendants accused of conspiring to commit racially motivated violence in a lawsuit brought by the nonprofit Integrity First for America on behalf of nine people who physically injured or emotionally traumatized during the chaotic events on the weekend of Aug. 11-12, 2017 in Charlottesville.


Dunn showed Kessler a message he posted on a Discord server used by a number of alt-right leaders in which he cited an April 15, 2017 rally in Berkeley, Calif. -- dubbed the "Battle of Berkeley" -- as an inspiration. Nathan Damigo, a codefendant who founded Identity Evropa, had gained instant fame within the movement when a video of him punching a counter-protester went viral on social media.

"I think we need to have a Battle of Berkeley situation in Charlottesville," Kessler wrote. "Fight this shit out." Referring to "Antifa," the white nationalists' hated adversaries, Kessler added, "They bring everything they've got, and we do, too."

Other Discord posts presented by the plaintiffs showed Kessler privately referring to the Unite the Right rally as the "Battle of Charlottesville" and "East Coast Berkeley."

Adding to a tranche of evidence plaintiffs have presented about other defendants, the plaintiffs showed the jury a Discord post showing that Kessler recommended that rally attendees bring picket-signs posts, which, he said, "can be turned from a free speech tool to a self-defense weapon, if thing turn ugly."

Kessler's messaging in the chats on the Discord server used to plan the rally, as presented by the plaintiffs during his testimony on Monday, repeatedly promoted the idea that participants should do whatever they could do ensure a confrontation with leftist counter-protesters.

In one message, Kessler urged attendees to refrain from carrying firearms, explaining that he didn't want to scare counter-protesters and that he wanted to increase the odds of adversaries "laying hands on us."

"This is a common tactic that even Martin Luther King used — to put common people out front to be attacked," Kessler protested when Dunn confronted him with the message. Judge Norman K. Moon sustained a motion by Dunn to strike the statement.

In an exchange with another person on the server on June 8, 2017, Kessler was even more explicit about the tactic. When the other Discord user suggested that carrying firearms would diminish their opportunity "to beat down Antifa," Kessler responded: "100 percent agree…. If you want to crack some Antifa skulls in self-defense, don't open carry. You'll scare the shit out of them, and they'll just stand off to the side."

In other messages, Kessler discussed tactics for ensuring that counter-protesters showed up, including taunting them on social media, and even planting false information through a fake social media account indicating that Spencer would be at a Charlottesville bar in the hopes of provoking antiracist activists two months ahead of the rally.

In another Discord message, Kessler solicited white nationalist supporters to invite someone he called an "Antifa manlet" to Unite the Right, lamenting, "I want to talk shit, but as the event organizer I can only say so much. People need to bullycide them into attending."

During his testimony on Monday, Kessler attempted to downplay the comment.

"I was only horsing around," he said. "This was not a serious discussion."

Under questioning by Dunn, Kessler acknowledged that he directly invited several of the co-defendants. Kessler confirmed that he and Elliott Kline were the principal organizers and coordinators of Unite the Right and that they held weekly planning meetings. When Kline's name was mentioned, Kessler exclaimed, "He's a liar. He's a known liar."

The feud between the onetime allies is largely immaterial to the legal claims against the defendants; it revolves around Kessler's belief that Kline and other alt-right leaders conspired to wrest control of the rally away from him.

Kessler's language about "cracking of skulls" turned up in a text exchange confirming Richard Spencer's participation in the rally.

"We are raising an army, my liege, for free speech but the cracking of skulls if it comes to it," Kessler wrote to Spencer, the most prominent figure among the planned speakers for the event.

Kessler went out of his way to implicate Spencer during his testimony on Monday. Throughout the trial, Spencer has attempted to portray himself as a public figure who was detached from the nitty-gritty day-to-day organizing leading up to the event. But Kessler testified that Spencer "participated" in the Discord server used to plan Unite the Right through "his designees," naming Kline and two other men.

During the trial, the two men have made no secret of their intense dislike for one another. On Monday, Kessler denounced his co-defendant as a "sociopath" and assured the court that a rage-filled rant filled with racist and anti-Semitic slurs was "the real Richard Spencer."

Kessler testified that he personally reached out to Matthew Heimbach and David Matthew Parrott, the co-directors of the Traditionalist Worker Party. He frequently exchanged messages with Derrick Davis, a regional director for the group. Kessler testified that he invited Cantwell to join the Discord server.

He also directly reached out to three other leaders who were part of a hardline coalition known as the Nationalist Front, speaking by phone with Michael Hill, president of the League of the South, and Jeff Schoep, commander of the National Socialist Movement. Kessler also confirmed that he reached out to Dillon Hopper, who led Vanguard America, a fourth group in the Nationalist Front.

A subplot in Kessler's conspiracy theory surfaced when Dunn asked Kessler about his communications with Robert "Azzmador" Ray, a contributing writer for the neo-Nazi website, which organized followers into so-called "book clubs."

"Mr. Ray is a scumbag and these people staged a mutiny to force me to have this guy be part of the event," Kessler testified.

Dunn suggested that the reason he relented and gave Ray a speaking slot was because he wanted to ensure that his followers came.

"But you wanted the Daily Stormers there," she said.

"I might have," Kessler conceded. "By the time I realized what this guy and his crew was about I wasn't so hot on it."

Whatever Kessler's stated misgivings about Ray at the time, video of the two interacting during the Unite the Right rally suggested a different picture. The video show Kessler bragging to Ray about breaking through a line of protesters that included Cornel West, a philosophy professor who joined clergy members in protesting the rally.

Ray can be heard in the video saluting Kessler for his role in organizing the rally.

"Everybody give a big hail victory to Jason Kessler," Ray said.

In another video from the Aug. 12 rally, Kessler can be heard expressing enthusiasm about Ray.

"Azzmador's going to give a hell of a speech," he says. "We're moving out of the online space, which we already dominate…. We're going to take over the real world."

Azzmador, in turn, enthuses: "This is what happens when you truly unite the right."

During his testimony on Monday, Kessler downplayed his responsibility for an Aug. 11 march on the University of Virginia campus when torch-bearing white nationalists surrounded a small group of counter-protesters at the Thomas Jefferson statue, yelled racial slurs at them and flung lit torches at their feet. During his testimony later on Monday, Cantwell acknowledged that he pepper-sprayed two counter-protesters, and he testified that he saw himself in a video "beating the shit" out of a third counter-protester.

Dunn homed in on Kessler's previous testimony during deposition that he did everything in his power to stop the torch march once he saw the counter-protesters surrounding the Jefferson statue.

Dunn asked Kessler if his efforts to prevent the attack included "heading it off."

"That was not in my power," Kessler said. "I put up my hands and said, 'Stop!' There was another guy named Eli Kline with a megaphone."

But asked specifically if it was his idea to do a torch march at the Thomas Jefferson statue, in which he did not inform campus law enforcement until a couple hours beforehand, Kessler testified, "I don't deny it was my plan originally."

Kessler claimed that his reason for trying to avoid a confrontation is that he saw guns on the counter-protesters.

"At that point, I'd seen Antifa with firearms they're not supposed to have on campus," he blurted out. "I'd seen them with mace. I saw big, tattooed people giving me the middle finger. At that point, I tried to get away from the situation because that wasn't a good situation."

No evidence has been presented to support Kessler's claim that the counter-protesters were armed, and Dunn showed Kessler his earlier testimony in deposition in which he made no mention of seeing counter-protesters with guns. Kessler eventually admitted that he wasn't certain he saw any guns.

"I know they did have firearms," he testified. "I could be mistaken about whether I saw it that night."

Former white nationalist leader gives damning testimony against Charlottesville defendants

Plaintiffs in the landmark civil litigation against the organizers of the violent 2017 Unite the Right rally brought their final witnesses to the stand on Friday, including a law student at the University of Virginia and the commander of the National Socialist Movement.

Elizabeth Sines, who passed the bar this past summer and now works for a law firm in Baltimore, is the lead plaintiff in the case Sines v. Kessler, which was brought by the nonprofit Integrity First for America. She recorded a torch march by white nationalists on the eve of the Unite the Rally and was also present the following day when rallygoer James Fields plowed his Dodge Challenger into a group of antiracist marchers, killing Heather Heyer and injuring dozens of others.

Standing at the top of the Rotunda on the University of Virginia campus on the night of Aug. 11, 2017, Sines filmed the torch-bearing white nationalists as they surrounded student counter-protesters at the base of the Thomas Jefferson statue.

The plaintiffs played Sines' Facebook Live video for the jury. She can be heard in the video reacting in horror as she narrates what she's seeing.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa," she says. "Holy sh*t. Whoa, whoa, whoa. Oh my God."

"When the tail of the marchers finally finished coming down the stairs — it was systematic — they would pull one student from the statue," Sines testified on Friday. "They were throwing full punches. They would punch and kick. They dragged one down and attacked."

Sines said her friend, who was there with her, described the assault as being "like cancer cells attacking healthy cells — they were just swarming."

Sines testified on Friday that she saw defendant Richard Spencer, the onetime figurehead of the alt-right movement, at the torch march, and she identified him in the courtroom on Friday.

The following day, Sines joined counter-protesters in downtown Charlottesville, and on Friday she gave an emotional account of witnessing Fields' car attack.

"It sounded like you took a metal baseball bat and slid it across a wooden fence," she testified. "Thuds. Screaming. The crowd parted. I don't know…. I can see it in slow motion. I'm sorry. You can see a car flying down the road and hit a larger group and crash into another vehicle at the bottom. I thought it was an accident. I couldn't believe someone would do that. Then he reversed and drove over people he hit. We knew then — I knew he was trying to kill as many people as possible."

Sines testified that she saw bodies flying through the air, and "jumped over someone who had been hit who was unconscious in the road" as she fled the scene.

"It was carnage," she testified. "There were people having panic attacks. There were people severely injured. Blood. People shielded people receiving medical treatment with their banners."

Although she was not physically injured in the attack, Sines testified that she has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, hypervigilance and panic attacks. Dr. Nadia Webb, an expert witness, testified on Friday that four other plaintiffs experienced severe post-traumatic stress disorder and severe depression. Webb testified that three of the plaintiffs who were physically injured in the car attack exhibit pathological patterns consistent with traumatic brain injury.

Due to the stigma surrounding mental health, Sines testified that she did not seek counseling until recently.

"I was here this summer for a few days," said Sines, who now works for a law firm in Baltimore. "We were on a road trip; we stopped in Charlottesville. We were walking towards the statue, and I had a flashback. I started having a panic attack. I felt like I needed help. I realized I wasn't going to be able to do it on my own."

During Sines' cross-examination, defendants attempted to raise questions about her motives for counter-protesting Unite the Right. Sines testified that growing up in a town in Maryland near the West Virginia state line, she was familiar with the Ku Klux Klan attempting to recruit through fliering campaigns.

Prior to Unite the Right, Sines showed up to counter-protest a July 8 Ku Klux Klan rally in Charlottesville that similarly attempted to exploit white grievance over the city's plans to remove Confederate monuments. Noting that counter-protesters vastly outnumbered the Klan and their supporters, Sines testified, "I feel that large numbers of counter-protesters are an important component of safety."

Spencer, along with co-defendant Christopher Cantwell and the lawyer for the League of the South defendants, questioned why Sines would think counter-protesting the white nationalists would make her safe.

"When I was at the KKK rally I saw a very large number of counter-protesters," Sines testified in response to Spencer's cross-examination. "I would say they probably outnumbered the Klan members 10, maybe 20 to one. To me, that felt like there was the reason there was no violence.

"It felt like it kept the Klan in check," she continued. "Why would they inflict violence on people if they were outnumbered?"

As Spencer continued to challenge Sines' belief that joining with other community members to counter-protest would increase safety, Sines said, "I think it's important to use my voice to speak out against what I feel is injustice."

Spencer pounced.

"It's not about safety, right?" he said.

Spencer also questioned Sines about an interview she gave to MTV shortly after the rally in which she described her concern about hearing that Unite the Right attendees were headed to Friendship Court, a predominantly African-American public housing community after the rally was declared an unlawful assembly.

"There were Nazis in the area that were intimidating," Sines testified. "I'm trying to say they were fearful of being attacked and trapped in their homes."

"Being 'trapped in your home' — is it dangerous to be in your home?" Spencer asked, sounding incredulous.

"If there are Nazis outside of your home, and you're Black, I would certainly be afraid," Sines testified.

Jeff Schoep, the former commander of the National Socialist Movement, testified on Friday as the final witness for the plaintiffs. The National Socialist Movement traces its roots back to the original American Nazi Party founded by George Lincoln Rockwell.

Schoep testified that he had been a member since 2001, and the National Socialist Movement was the oldest organization in the coalition of alt-right groups that staged Unite the Right. But by the early 2010s, the National Socialist Movement was in decline and Schoep formed an alliance with Matthew Heimbach, leader of the then up-and-coming Traditionalist Worker Party. Together, the two organizations formed the Nationalist Front as an umbrella for the US neo-Nazi movement that brought in League of the South and Vanguard America. Since 2017, Schoep has left the National Socialist Movement.

The plaintiffs showed the jury a June 2017 email exchange between Schoep and Jason Kessler, the primary organizer of the rally. In the exchange, Kessler mentioned an invitation to Schoep to join the Charlottesville 2.0 planning server on Discord, and Schoep responded, "I would like to you to see what we bring to the table." He added, "The men are battle tested in the street."

According to the exchange, Kessler replied: "It's truly humbling to think I can play a part to bring the various factions together," adding that people in the white nationalist movement "have been working towards this for 25 years."

In a deposition that Schoep authenticated during his testimony on Friday, the witness stated that far-right groups "often believe there's going to be a civil war and a race war, or a combination of the two" and that during the period leading up to Unite the Right their posture would have been to "harden your resolve and prepare for violence."

The plaintiffs also presented a tweet in which Schoep wrote, "I knocked out an antifa scumbag, laid him out in the street," an apparent reference to the Unite the Right rally on Aug. 12, 2017.

Plaintiffs counsel William Isaacson showed Schoep a video, asking, "That was you decking a counter-protester, right?"

"It's hard to identity someone from the back of their head," Schoep complained.

Isaacson moved the video back to provide a more direct view of the person in the video, and Schoep acknowledged, "That appears to be me here."

But when Isaacson presented the two clips in tandem, Schoep asked, "Now you're splicing video together?"

Finally, Judge Norman K. Moon tired of Schoep's efforts to resist being pinned down.

"Would you stand up and turn your back to the jury?" he instructed Schoep. "I think they can tell whether it's you or not."

Charlottesville Nazis tripped by extremism expert after he decodes their 'doublespeak' on the witness stand

Plowing forward in a civil conspiracy trial against the organizers of the violent 2017 Unite the Right rally, the plaintiffs called an expert witness who methodically examined the defendants' private communications and social media posts, explaining how they exemplify the classic markers of violent white supremacist organizing.

The plaintiffs' attorney showed the jury a tweet sent by James Fields, who slammed his car into a crowd of antiracist marchers at the culmination of the rally, killing Heather Heyer and injuring dozens of others. The tweet displayed an image of a smiling white family, accompanied by the text, "Love your race, stop white genocide."

"Essentially you have this message that if you love your race, you will be committed to stopping 'white genocide,'" Peter Simi, an associate professor of sociology at Chapman University, testified. "People in the know understand that 'stop white genocide' is a call to violence."

Simi's testimony took most of the day on Thursday, with nearly all of the defendants in the lawsuit brought by nonprofit Integrity First for America cross-examining him. The time taken by defendants' counsel to cross-examine Simi likely indicates how damaging they view his testimony or their recognition that they're running out of time to undermine the plaintiffs' case.

Simi and co-author Kathleen Blee, a sociology professor at the University of Pittsburgh, concluded in a report prepared for the plaintiffs that the defendants "quite plainly followed the playbook" of the white supremacist movement through their participation in the Unite the Right rally.

"Our exhaustive review of their planning materials makes it apparent that the defendants utilized WSM tactics, principally the reliance on racial animus as a motivator, the intentional use of violence to achieve their goals, and a coordinated strategy to obfuscate their aims through the use of 'double-speak,' 'frontstage/backstage' behavior, and a discrete and new-age communication platform," they wrote.

Simi and Blee reviewed about 575,000 posts in Discord, a gaming platform with a private communication feature that was used to organize Unite the Right. Simi testified that he and Blee expect to receive $30,000 for 1,000 hours of work from Integrity First for America.

The plaintiffs introduced a raft of evidence showing that Fields harbored exterminationist views and worshiped Adolf Hitler, including a photo of his bedroom taken on the day after the car attack that showed photos of Hitler on his wall and bedside table.

In one tweet, Fields wrote, "Shit's going to hit the fan and you k*kes will know the wrath of the west once more."

Fields' Twitter history showed that he followed at least two of the defendants, Richard Spencer and Augustus Sol Invictus, as well as David Duke, who was invited as a surprise guest at Unite the Right. Fields retweeted or tagged Spencer at least 16 times on Twitter between March and August 2017, although there's no evidence that Spencer, the most prominent figure in the alt-right movement in 2017, ever responded.

Fields drove from his home in Ohio to Charlottesville, and wore a white polo shirt and khaki pants, the uniform of defendant organization Vanguard America. When he arrived at Emancipation Park, Thomas Rousseau, the ground commander of Vanguard America, handed him a shield with the organization's emblem, one of the defendants has testified.

Fields's social media history, which was shown to the jury on Thursday, pointed to even further engagement with prominent organizers and participants. Fields tagged Anthime Gionet, a white supremacist livestreamer also known as "Baked Alaska" who is currently facing charges in connection with the Jan. 6 assault on the US Capitol on July 8, 2017. He also retweeted and tagged Brad Griffin, a member of the League of the South who heavily promoted Unite the Right, and retweeted a video of Identity Evropa founder Nathan Damigo, who is a defendant.

The court played a recording of a jailhouse phone call between Fields and his mother after Aug. 12, 2017 in which Fields said the United States should have a one-party government and that he thought Spencer would be a good president.

While Simi was on the witness stand, the plaintiffs played a clip of defendant Christopher Cantwell speaking on his podcast five days before the Unite the Right rally in a bid to make the case that other defendants' shared Fields' exterminationist aims. The recording also supported Simi's testimony that white supremacists view "communists" — a loose term used to denote multiculturalists, leftists and Jews — as a threat.

"Let's gas the k*kes and have a race war," Cantwell said. "When I realized they're responsible for communism, that's a really good reason to genocide a people."

At the end of the statement, Cantwell can be heard giggling.

"There's quite a bit going on there," Simi told the court. "There's a call for violence multiple times. A reference to genocide. A reference to gassing. Clear expression of anti-Semitism. Mention of communism."

Simi and Blee's report also cited a Discord post by Cantwell as an example of white supremacists utilizing doublespeak to motivate participants to engage in violence while claiming not to do so.

While planning for Unite the Right was underway in June 2017, Cantwell wrote in Discord: "If you kill the Jew, the Jew in you dies with him I heard (This is a tasteless joke, relax k*ke)."

Cantwell asked Simi to read the post aloud to the jury, and tried to trip him up by asking if it was representative of "frontstage or backstage behavior."

"This is an example of how humor is used in the white supremacist movement to create doublespeak," Simi told Cantwell. "In this instance, humor is conveying violence while simultaneously making the case that it's just a joke."

Plaintiffs showed Simi a Discord conversation that included Michael Chesny, an active-duty Marine Corps member involved in planning for Unite the Right. The discussion began with a link to to purchase flagpoles, escalated into a conversation about using flagpoles as weapons, then to a reference to an ax handle as a weapon, and concluded with an image depicting people impaled on spears that was posted by Chesny.

"You get a combination of mundane conversation about the best way to use weapons coupled with graphic images of mass-casualty violence," Simi testified.

"When dealing with a culture of violence [in the white supremacist movement], it's not all that different than the culture of violence you find with the mafia, al-Qaeda and ISIS," he added "One of the things a culture of violence needs to do is normalize violence. These communications are important in making violence more normal and mundane."

At the beginning of the day on Thursday, Judge Norman K. Moon agreed to a request by the plaintiffs to correct a statement he made in open court the previous day about "Antifa" that the plaintiffs argued was prejudicial. In a letter outlining their concerns, lawyer Roberta Kaplan asked Moon to clarify statements he had made about the Rev. Seth Wispelwey's testimony about Antifa on Thursday, expressing concerns that the judge's statements "will likely confuse the jury and prejudice the plaintiffs."

Moon's statements came up during Damigo's testimony when plaintiffs' counsel objected to a question about Damigo's differences with Antifa for lack of foundation.

"He was sitting here today and heard the reverend talk about Antifa. He was here all day, wasn't he?" Moon interjected.

Plaintiffs' counsel responded, "Objection, I don't believe Reverend Wispelwey testified at all about Antifa beliefs. In fact, Reverend Wispelwey testified he was not Antifa."

After considering the plaintiffs' request for clarification, Judge Moon instructed the jury on Thursday morning: "I did not give a complete and accurate statement of all his testimony, and you should disregard it."

"What the reverend said is not a foundation for what Mr. Damigo said," Moon continued. "You should try to remember all of the reverend's testimony, and don't try to draw any inference from what I said. It's improper for me to make any statements that reflect on anyone's testimony. Disregard anything I say to the lawyers about the testimony. It's up to you to find the facts, not me. Just disregard anything I say when I'm talking to lawyers or instructing witnesses on how to testify. Anything like that is something you're sworn not to rely upon."

Defendants are expected to start calling witnesses tomorrow. The jury has yet to hear testimony from Jason Kessler, who obtained the permit and is considered the primary organizer of the Unite the Right rally.

To speed the trial along, the plaintiffs have agreed not to call Kessler and co-defendant Cantwell as witnesses, but instead to question them through cross-examination when the defense calls them to testify. But plaintiffs' counsel Karen Dunn told Judge Moon the plaintiffs want to hold their case open until they get an opportunity to question Kessler and Cantwell. James Kolenich said the soonest Kessler will be available is Monday.

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Charlottesville Nazis resurrect Trump's 'both sides' argument in attempt to discredit pastor who protested Unite the Right

The Rev. Seth Wispelwey, a local pastor who organized a national clergy response to the Unite the Right rally, took the witness stand on Wednesday as one of nine plaintiffs who suffered physical injuries and emotional trauma as a result of the violent white nationalist gathering in Charlottesville, Va. in August 2017.

Wispelwey is the co-founder of Congregate C'ville, which mobilized local and national clergy to bear nonviolent witness against Unite the Right. Images broadcast on national television of the pastors leading a mass prayer meeting at a church besieged by torch-bearing white nationalists on the eve of the rally and later getting pummeled by rallygoers as they linked arms in clerical vestments evoked the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

President Trump's widely condemned response to the rally summoned another view of those who came out in opposition to the white nationalists that has since taken hold in the imagination of many conservatives, Fox News viewers and Republican voters. While claiming there were "very fine people" on "both sides," Trump condemned James Fields for the car attack that took the life of Heather Heyer and injured dozens of others, while also decrying "the alt-left" that, in his words "came charging in, without a permit, and they were very, very violent."

The defendants, who are accused of conspiring to commit racially motivated violence in Charlottesville, attempted to sow doubt in the minds of the jurors in their cross-examination by linking him to "antifa." Several prospective jurors revealed that they hold negative view of "antifa" during jury selection, describing them as a "terrorist organization" and "domestic terrorists."

After a morning service at a historically African-American Baptist church, Wispelwey testified that he and 40 or 50 clergy members walked to Emancipation Park. As white nationalists marched by chanting "Blood and soil," a Nazi slogan, the clergy linked arms and stood in a line along the park, while singing and praying "as a visible, faithful presence that we wanted to communicate that we were bound together," Wispelwey testified. Later, the clergy members knelt, Wispelwey testified, as "sign of supplication, saying 'we are vulnerable, but we are not afraid.'"

After witnessing white nationalists stream into Emancipation Park for about two and a half hours, Wispelwey testified he and some other members of the clergy group walked over to the southeast entrance to Emancipation Park. The designated entrance for the permitted rally was at the other end of the street, and Wispelwey testified that the southeast entrance was blocked by barricades.

The plaintiffs presented video of the clergy members, joined by Professor Cornel West, locking arms on the steps to the barricaded entrance as white nationalists barked at them. Wispelwey testified he heard someone yell, "Kill the faggot priests."

"The next thing I knew we were getting jostled and pushed aside," Wispelwey testified. "I was near the lip of the side of the stairs. I was pushed and tripped into the bushes. When I stood up, a large man was standing over me, and saying, "F*ck you, faggot," over and over in my face."

The clergy regrouped, Wispelwey testified, adding, "I and some of the other leaders at Congregate thought it was still worth making a presence to put leaders out front."

Standing near the southeast entrance to the park, Wispelwey watched a "huge group of men walking down the street with flags and different insignias" — members of the League of the South and Traditionalist Worker Party, as it turned out. Counter-protesters linked arms and blocked their path as Wispelwey stood nearby. Wispelwey described the incident in a brief written statement provided for an article in Slate that was published four days after Unite the Right. Anticipating the defendants' line of attack, plaintiffs' counsel Roberta Kaplan asked the witness a statement that "antifa saved my life" on Aug. 12 that was included in the article.

Wispelwey testified that he and other Charlottesville community members were asked "to write some words" for the Slate article.

"There was a debate roiling nationally about violence and responses to it," Wispelwey testified. "I wanted to share that in my experience — for me it was a catchall for counter-protesters who I didn't know and didn't have affiliation. I said they saved my life and our lives. In that clip earlier of League of the South and National Socialist Movement at that point these other counter-protesters who I was lumped in with moved bodily in front of us. I feared for our safety. I thought I was going to take it on the chin at best. They bodily moved in front of us. League of the South moved right into them. They took the hit, and we pulled back on Market Street."

Kaplan also asked Wispelwey to explain a tweet he made two years after the Unite the Right rally in which he wrote, "Jesus is antifa."

"I understand in a short definition fascism to be a form of authoritarian governance that seeks to privilege and put on a pedestal a few based on nationality and race while explicitly keeping others down and depriving them of rights and safety based on their nationality and race," Wispelwey testified. "[Fascists embrace] a dream that runs counter to the dream of God for this world and all humanity. And, using a term that has become a lot of things in the media, I wanted to say that Jesus is against fascism because Jesus is for all of us and does not seek violence."

Christopher Cantwell, a neo-Nazi defendant who is representing himself, extensively cross-examined Wispelwey, picking apart the four paragraphs he contributed to the Slate article. A podcaster with a belligerent personality who frequently uses racial slurs and profanity, Cantwell has openly endorsed violence, telling a Vice reporter embedded with him at the Unite the Right rally: "I'm trying to make myself more capable of violence."

Cantwell asked Wispelwey about a passage from the article in which he wrote: "A phalanx of neo-Nazis shoved right through our human wall with 3-foot-wide wooden shields, screaming and spitting homophobic slurs and obscenities at us. It was then that antifa stepped in to thwart them."

Wispelwey testified on Wednesday that prior to the Aug. 12, 2017 rally, he had not been familiar with the term "antifa."

Cantwell queried him on how he was able to identity "antifa."

"It was a catchall term," Wispelwey responded. "There weren't any identifying markers. I'm with one group. Here are these other people who identify as antifascist."

Cantwell asked Wispelwey about a tweet in which he wrote, "Antifascism is community defense. We keep us safe. When Democratic leadership decides to do that, we can talk."

"What is community defense?" Cantwell asked.

"It means when your community feels under attack or threatened, it can mean a range of things. To me, it looked like showing up in prayer and solidarity. It can mean providing first aid or being a legal observer. It can mean so many beautiful, rich things. It can mean advocating livable wages and affordable housing."

Cantwell homed in on a passage in the Slate article in which Wispelwey wrote: "I didn't see any racial justice protesters with weapons, as for antifa, anything they brought I would only categorize as community defense tools and nothing more."

Cantwell tried in vain to get Wispelwey to testify on the witness stand that flagpoles and pepper spray in the hands of "antifa" were "community defense tools."

"Isn't it true that in this sentence you are acknowledging antifa has weapons, and you're justifying their use of their weapons," Cantwell said.

"I would only categorize that there was this roiling debate about 'both sides,'" Wispelwey testified. "What I saw was white supremacists attack counter-protesters and I pulled back. I was speaking hypothetically to something I really don't know."

When Cantwell pressed Wispelwey to explain what he meant when he wrote that "antifa" "have their tools to achieve their purposes, and they are not ones I will personally use," Wispelwey responded: "It's possible that has to do with the tools of using one's own body for self-defense when physically attacked."

Cantwell also questioned Wispelwey about a 2019 tweet in which he wrote, "Better yet, buy a milkshake."

Wispelwey initially testified that he could not recall the context of the statement, and Cantwell asked if he was familiar with Andy Ngo, a self-proclaimed journalist who writes critically about antifascists. Ngo became a darling of right-wing media and the GOP after he was hit with a milkshake and then punched during a rally in Portland, Ore.

Wispelwey eventually testified that the context for his tweet was news stories about activists pouring milkshakes on "neo-fascist politicians."It appears I'm referencing milkshakes and yelling in reference to not being the moral equivalent of caging children," Wispelwey testified.

Cantwell pressed him: "Your dedication to nonviolence is not offended by pouring milkshake on someone?"

"I don't think I have much of an issue with it, no," Wispelwey acknowledged.

During Wispelwey's testimony on Wednesday, he also recalled running from a restaurant on the Downtown Mall to the scene of the car attack, and working with other clergy members to clear the street for emergency response vehicles.

Although he is not claiming a physical injury from the assault at Emancipation Park, Wispelwey testified that he couldn't work full-time for a couple years. Now, he said, he has a temporary job, "which felt like a safe entry point."

"I have lost a lot of function I used to have" he testified. "A month after August 2017, I was diagnosed with acute stress disorder, which became post-traumatic stress disorder. I've had trouble sleeping ever since. My anxiety. Night terrors. Hyper-vigilance. It's a tremendous cost, socially and professionally and physiologically. It's been rough."

During cross-examination, Cantwell suggested Wispelwey bore some responsibility for the violence he experienced.

"You blocked the path of people going through," Cantwell said.

"Technically, that would be a blockage until it was sorted out," Wispelwey grudgingly agreed.

Cantwell lit up, rolling a video of the rally attendees battering through the clergy while screaming profanities at them.

"Let's watch this get sorted out, shall we?" he said.

Once the video concluded, Cantwell asked: "Once you let them through, did that solve the problem?"

"If that was a problem," Wispelwey replied, "then assaulting us completed their objective."

Nazis' own words get used against them to prove they came to Charlottesville with violent intent

Michael Bloch, counsel for the plaintiffs in the civil conspiracy trial against the organizers of the 2017 Unite the Right rally, hammered relentlessly on the two themes of violence and racism as defendant David Matthew Parrott, the co-director of the Traditionalist Worker Party, took the witness stand on Tuesday, the 12th day of the trial in federal court in Charlottesville, Va.

To prove their claims in the case brought by the nonprofit Integrity First for America, the plaintiffs, nine Virginia residents who were physically injured or emotionally traumatized by the violence at the Unite the Right rally, must prove a violation of the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act by establishing by a preponderance of evidence that the defendants conspired to commit racially motivated violence.

The third theme that Bloch hammered on was agreement.

By questioning almost a dozen organizers and others involved in the white nationalist movement at the time of the rally, lawyers for the plaintiffs painstakingly mapped out relationships, communications and planning efforts among the constellation of leaders in the fractious alt-right movement.

And so, the defendants have pushed back by teasing out anecdotes about their rivalries, squabbles, ego battles and various differences is ideology, culture and strategy to poke holes in the case against them.

Through previous testimony, the jury had previously learned about the "hard right" faction of the alt-right coalition that included Traditionalist Worker Party, along with allies League of the South and National Socialist Movement, who ignored a plan by primary organizer Jason Kessler to assemble at McIntyre Park and shuttled to Emancipation Park. Instead, Traditionalist Worker Party and their allies drove to the Market Street Parking Garage and marched in a column to Emancipation Park.

But Parrott's own account of the Unite the Right rally, an after-event report he titled "Catcher in the Reich," provides evidence of coordination between the two factions that undermines the defendants' courtroom efforts to play up their differences. In his account, Parrott wrote that Traditionalist Worker Party and its "hard right" allies joined together once they made it to Emancipation Park "to help create two shield walls" for "the fight" against counter-protesters.

Then, he wrote: "While most of the Identity Evropa men were occupied on other fronts, they sent a detachment of fighters to assist us and relay intelligence to Jason Kessler and other organizers. They offered more fighters, but we had our positions amply covered."

James Kolenich — the lawyer representing Kessler, Identity Evropa and the group's founder, Nathan Damigo — tried to batter Parrott's characterization of the intergroup dynamic during his cross-examination.

"It was a flowery explanation of Mr. Kessler," Parrott testified. "It was for the website, and it was not intended to be a legal document."

At one point during Kolenich's testy cross-examination, Judge Norman K. Moon described Parrott as an "adverse witness."

Kolenich pressed Parrott to acknowledge that Kessler didn't tell the Traditionalist Worker Party and their allies to enter the park at the location they chose for themselves.

"I don't believe he told us to go into the other entrance," Parrott testified. "He understood that we were no longer listening to him."

In another fusillade against the defendants' efforts to portray themselves as rivals working at cross-purposes, the plaintiffs showed the jury a photo of Damigo walking into Emancipation Park surrounded by Traditionalist Worker Party members. (David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader who was invited to the rally as a surprise guest, was also shown entering the park with Traditionalist Worker Party.)

"It was clear he snuck in that way," Parrott said of Damigo. "I assumed he used a crowd of nationalists to weave in."

Jason Kessler, who took out the permit for the rally and who has been described by Judge Moon as "perhaps the overarching organizer of the event," has yet to take the witness stand.

Roberta Kaplan, one of the lead counsels, told Judge Moon that the plaintiffs plan to rest their case on Thursday, with the exception of calling former National Socialist Movement commander Jeff Schoep on Friday because that's the only day he's available.

Moon had previously planned to take Thursday off for Veteran's Day, but members of the jury agreed to work through the holiday to keep the trial on schedule for completion at the end of next week.

As a co-director, chief information officer and self-described "underboss" of the now-defunct Traditionalist Worker Party in 2017, Parrott attempted through his testimony on Tuesday to deflect accusations that the group was violent.

Although his previous testimony in deposition indicated he believed that violent protests provided Traditionalist Worker Party with an opportunity to fundraise, he sought to create the opposite impression while testifying in court on Tuesday — that avoiding violence was the mark of a successful event.

"Safe, legal and fun," was the mantra he repeated.

The plaintiffs undercut Parrott's positions by showing the jury a statement he made on Discord celebrating a June 2016 rally in Sacramento, Calif. attended by Traditionalist Worker Party members that resulted in several stabbings.

"Sacto was incredible, and it could only happen in California because of the tight gun laws," Parrott wrote.

Then, he wrote, "Anaheim was awesome too," referring to a clash between Trump supporters and leftists during the 2016 primary. While celebrating the incident, Parrott testified that no members of Traditionalist Worker Party were involved.

"I was not referring to the stabbing," he testified. "I was referring to the fact that Antifa f*cked around and found out."

"Antifa was attacking normal families, not radicals like myself," Parrott continued. "Ever since 2016, this country has done nothing about stopping Antifa violence to the political process."

Michael Bloch, counsel for the plaintiffs, moved to strike Parrott's statement about "Antifa," but Judge Moon ruled that it would remain on the record.

Bloch also called attention to statements Parrott made on the group's Discord server to other members while watching a livestream of an event at Auburn University in April 2017, when the Traditionalist Worker Party provided security for a speech by co-defendant Richard Spencer.

"It looks like the cops are actually doing their jobs at this point, unfortunately," Parrott wrote at the time. "Wanted to watch Heimbach chimpout on livestream."

"Chimpout" is a racist term that denotes irrational violence.

"We were all watching the livestream," Parrott testified. "I was lamenting that everything was going smoothly. That was the joke."

The plaintiffs presented numerous communications establishing Parrott's racism and antisemitism; overall, the allegation that the defendants are racist has proven to be the easiest lift for the plaintiffs throughout the trial.

On Tuesday, Bloch showed the jury an exchange on Traditionalist Worker Party's Discord server in April 2017.

A member with the username Backstreet Goy said, "Nothing is going to get done until we gas all the kikes."

Parrott responded: "Try to keep the hardliner stuff off the public chat. It protects you."

Bloch asked Parrott if the statement referred to the mass murder of Jews during the Holocaust.

"It becomes an ironic meme at that time, but it certainly does refer to that," Parrott testified.

The plaintiffs also showed the jury a statement by Parrott on Discord in which he said, "My hatred extends only to Jews."

Parrott and fellow Traditionalist Worker Party leader Matthew Heimbach have made little effort during the trial to downplay their anti-Semitism, acknowledging that their group sought to create a white ethno-state and that they considered Jews to be a race apart from whites. They both testified about their admiration of Adolf Hitler.

Both plaintiffs and defense counsel attempted to batter Parrott's credibility.

During cross-examination by Kolenich, Parrott admitted that he made a false declaration in another legal proceeding in Ohio.

"It was later shown to be false despite my best recollection," Parrott testified.

"Just because you write something and sign your name to it does not mean the information was true," Kolenich said, attempting to get Parrott to agree on the stand.

The plaintiffs presented a Facebook post from Parrott in which he wrote: "If you were involved in any altercation in Charlottesville and you haven't disabled your social media, you should do so."

Through his questioning, plaintiffs' counsel indicated that several defendants had lost data by deleting social media accounts, or in Schoep's case, dropping his phone in the toilet and in Vanguard America leader Dillon Hopper's case, "electrocuting" his phone.

Parrott and Heimbach have described each other as "best friends," and the evidence of potential destruction of evidence introduced an embarrassing episode into the testimony.

Bloch noted that Parrott deleted texts exchanged with his then-wife, Jessica Parrott, who was also a member of Traditionalist Worker Party.

"That was a dramatic domestic incident," Parrott testified. "I deleted all my messages from my wife or her lover, who was Mr. Heimbach…. It was a grave error."

Evidence of Traditionalist Worker Party's racism and attempts to burnish their public image piled up.

In a private channel that Parrott set up on Discord for vetted members, he wrote, "This is the channel where we can and should confirm that Wes Bellamy is a n***er." (Bellamy served on Charlottesville City Council from 2016 through 2019.)

Co-defendant Christopher Cantwell, who is representing himself, cross-examined Parrott, and Judge Moon allowed them to banter about racist jokes. Discussing the evidence, Parrott and Cantwell both casually uttered the N-word in court.

"The implied joke is that you can speak more freely," Cantwell said, attempting to draw Parrott out.

"Even now, I'm sensitive to the fact that it could be hurtful," Parrott testified, audibly cringing.

But Cantwell continued.

"Was it unusual in alt-right circles to say Wes Bellamy is a n***er?"

"Mr. Bellamy has a long history of vitriolic anti-white statements," Parrott replied. "They were quite choice, and he definitely was fair game for ribald humor."

Happy Holidays!