Kessler asks court to allow Unite the Right anniversary rally to proceed

The white nationalist claims the rally won’t be a danger to public safety

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White nationalist organizer Jason Kessler and his attorney James Kolenich filed for a preliminary injunction on Friday.

Jason Kessler, the white nationalist organizer of last summer's deadly Unite the Right rally, filed a motion in federal court June 22 asking a judge to force the City of Charlottesville to grant him a permit for a “Unite the Right anniversary” rally dedicated to fighting for what Kessler calls “white civil rights.”

In a memorandum filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, Kessler’s attorney James E. Kolenich claims the anniversary rally — following a rally last August marked by white nationalist violence — will not present a danger to the public. Kolenich also asserts that Kessler’s permit was denied only because officials dislike Kessler’s political views.  

In December 2017, the City cited public safety concerns while denying Kessler’s application for a rally permit — along with four other applications for unrelated gatherings. In March of this year, Kessler sued the City and City Manager Maurice Jones for violations of his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. 

The motion filed last week would grant Kessler the permit until the judge can further rule on the case, which could take months. According to court documents from May, lawyers for both Kessler and the City agreed to a trial over the rally permit in April 2019, long after the rally planned for Aug. 11 and 12. 

Kessler has also applied for a permit in Washington, D.C. for the same dates. On Wednesday, Kessler was approved by the National Park Service to hold the rally near the White House.

Neither City officials nor Kolenich did not return requests for comment.

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