In the early hours of Saturday morning, “Unite the Right” organizer and pro-white activist Jason Kessler described the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer in last weekend’s fatal car attack in downtown Charlottesville as “payback time.”
Kessler described Heyer as a “fat, disgusting Communist” and linked to a crude article about Heyer’s death on the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer.
Heyer was killed and 19 others were injured Aug. 12 when a Dodge Challenger plowed through a crowd of people off the Downtown Mall who were protesting the white nationalist “Unite the Right” rally. Police have since arrested James Alex Fields Jr., a 20-year-old Ohio man who has been charged with second-degree murder and several other felony charges.
Kessler’s tweet came just days after the Charlottesville community came together to mourn Heyer at a memorial service at the Paramount Theater, where her mother, Susan Bro, delivered a speech calling on people to make Heyer's death count by speaking out against injustice.
Community members also created a memorial to Heyer at the site of the crash near the intersection of Fourth Street and Water Street and hundreds of people attended a vigil at the memorial the day after Heyer’s death.
Hours after tweeting about Heyer, Kessler deleted the tweet and then claimed in a subsequent tweet that he was hacked — which he also then deleted. The series of tweets cultimated in Kessler deleting his Twitter account at around noon Saturday. Shortly before his account went offline, he tweeted that he had been drinking the previous night and was also taking Ambien and Xanax, which are a sedative and an anti-anxiety medication, respectively.
“I repudiate the heinous tweet that was sent from my account last night,” he tweeted, and then appeared to confess to the original tweet about Heyer a minute later when he wrote, “I sometimes wake up having done strange things I don’t remember.”
Kessler’s tweet quickly earned him the scorn of white supremacist leaders involved with the “Unite the Right” rally, such as University alumnus Richard Spencer, who tweeted he would “no longer associate” with Kessler. One of the rally’s co-organizers, Eli Mosley, tweeted that he thought Kessler was “unstable.”
The tweets also come at a time where Kessler has faced questions over his background as a liberal activist prior to becoming involved with far-right politics. The Daily Progress published an article Aug. 17 that included a quote from a former girlfriend of Kessler’s claiming he broke up with her because she “was not liberal enough,” as well as another source describing his involvement with the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Kessler is also one of many defendants named in a $3 million lawsuit filed in Charlottesville Circuit Court last week by two sisters who were in a car hit by the Dodge Challenger. The suit against Kessler, Fields and other white nationalists includes allegations of civil conspiracy, “committing, conspiring and aiding and abetting acts of terrorism,” incitement to riot and disorderly conduct.
The suit also specifically alleges Kessler was negligent “by failing to take appropriate measures to assure that there would not be an escalation of violence” at the Aug. 12 rally.
Kessler told Fox News last week that he is currently in hiding and has received numerous death threats. He referenced these threats in his tweets Saturday, saying he is “under a crushing amount of stress.”
Kessler did not return an email from The Cavalier Daily seeking comment on the tweets.