Protesters chase Kessler away from press conference

'Unite The Right' organizer escorted away after being met with angry demonstrators, police charge Charlottesville man with misdemeanor assault, battery

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Jason Kessler at the press conference Sunday afternoon shortly before he left the scene. 

Anna Higgins | Cavalier Daily

“Unite The Right” rally organizer and pro-white activist Jason Kessler was chased away by demonstrators and escorted out of the downtown area following a failed press conference Sunday afternoon.

Kessler attempted to speak in front of City Hall for a few minutes, but was drowned out by the crowd and a man appeared to come up and punch Kessler in the face. The crowd could be heard chanting “Nazi scum,” “Shame on you,” and “Say her name,” in reference to Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old woman from Charlottesville who was killed in a violent car attack near the Downtown Mall Saturday afternoon.

Swarmed by protesters, he then ran over to the other side of City Hall on Market Street and entered the police department. He was ultimately escorted out of the downtown area.

The Virginia State Police charged Robert K. Litzenberger, a 47-year-old man from Charlottesville, with misdemeanor assault and battery Sunday. According to state police, Litzenberger was arrested “after the trooper observed him spit on Jason Kessler” as Kessler was leaving the press conference.

Chaos and violence unfolded Saturday as the “Unite The Right” rally and other protests near the Downtown Mall brought hundreds of white supremacists and counter-protesters into the area. The events turned deadly when a car drove into a group of people on 4th Street, killing Heyer and injuring 19 other people.

The University Health System said Sunday that 10 of the people are in “good condition” and nine have been discharged.

“We have treated additional patients related to Saturday’s events, but we do not have an exact number of patients,” the system said in a series of tweets.

Authorities have charged 20-year-old Ohio resident James Alex Fields Jr. with second-degree murder, as well as three counts of malicious wounding and one count of hit-and-run. The Justice Department has also opened a civil rights investigation into the incident.

A second fatal event occurred Saturday when a Virginia State Police helicopter that had been assisting law enforcement in Charlottesville crashed near the Birdwood Golf Course, killing Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates. Authorities do not believe foul play was involved.

In a video posted on his Twitter account Sunday afternoon, Kessler commented on the attempted press conference and claimed “violence is winning out over ideas and the First Amendment.” He blamed the chaos of the weekend on city officials and law enforcement, saying that the police should have done a better job separating the clashing groups of people.

Kessler also said the media was misrepresenting the “Unite The Right” rally and he described the rally as a way “for white people to be able to stand up for their interests as a group.”

“We’ll try to do another press conference at some point, but at this moment, it’s probably better just to do individual interviews,” Kessler said. 

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