Rally organizer booed, pushed in Charlottesville
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The man who organized a rally in Charlottesville that sparked violent clashes between white supremacist groups and counter-protesters tried to hold a news conference a day after the deadly event, but a crowd of several hundred booed him and forced him away from the lectern.
Jason Kessler is a blogger based in Charlottesville, and as he came out to speak Sunday afternoon near City Hall, he was surrounded by cameras and people. Some people chanted and made noises with drums and other instruments. Among the chants: "You're wearing the wrong hood," a reference to the Ku Klux Klan.
Crowd screams 'shame' at Jason Kessler as he arrives. And chanting 'murderer' pic.twitter.com/wCr5KdFePM— Henry Graff (@HenryGraff) August 13, 2017
Kessler mimicked looking at his watch and indicated he'd wait to speak.
Police and the city government "failed to maintain law and order by protecting the First Amendment rights of the participants of the 'Unite the Right' rally," Kessler alleged in a statement.
A few people approached, crossing the line of TV cameras.
One man pushed Kessler. A woman tackled him.
Kessler asked officers on the scene for help. He then was chased away while being protected by riot police as the crowd cursed him, with one man heard yelling, "Get the [expletive] out of here, coward." No arrests were reported.
Absolute chaos just broke out. Moments after this video people charged in and were trying to punch Jason Kessler pic.twitter.com/VhVm8EsXLn— Kari Beal (@KariBealTV) August 13, 2017
White nationalist leader Richard Spencer, who also attended Saturday's rally, plans his own press conference for Monday.
His statement went on to say he worked with Charlottesville police months ago for the planned rally at the town's Emancipation Park, formerly named Lee Park.
But cops didn't separate the white nationalists from counter protesters when things started to get ugly Saturday, Kessler asserted.
Jason Kessler rushed away from press conference and eventually brought to police station when his car wasn't reachable pic.twitter.com/JDG1OQ9Hxk— Brook Silva-Braga (@Brook) August 13, 2017
Charlottesville police also "stood idly by when violent counter-protesters attacked the participants of the rally and then they forced our demonstrators out of Lee Park and into a melee with Antifa," he said, referring to the anti-fascism ralliers who often clash with white nationalists.
Kessler's released statement asserted that counter protesters brought weapons such as baseball bats and bows and arrows — along with a makeshift flamethrower from a spray can.
A Charlottesville spokeswoman told the New York Daily News on Sunday it was too soon to tell the affiliation of those arrested in the mayhem.