The University Police Department extended a previous four-year “no trespass” order for Jason Kessler, “Unite the Right” rally organizer and Class of 2009 alumnus, Wednesday. “No trespass” bans are issued to individuals who break Virginia criminal code, violate University regulations or otherwise place the health and safety of University community members at risk.
The ban was issued for Kessler’s “involvement in activities that occurred on Grounds on August 11, 2017 that jeopardized the health and safety of University students, faculty, staff, and visitors, as well as disruptive behavior at the U.Va. School of Law on the day the notice was issued,” per a statement from deputy University spokesperson Bethanie Glover.
The ban, which was issued on April 30, 2018, would have expired Friday had UPD decided against renewing the measure.
While the ban is in place, Kessler is prohibited from entering Grounds. Breaking the “no trespass” order is a class one misdemeanor with punishments of up to one year imprisonment of fines of up to $2,500.
On Aug. 11, 2017 Kessler and a group of white supremacists marched from Nameless Field down the Lawn and to the north side of the Rotunda wielding tiki torches — the group shouted anti-semitic and racist chants including “White lives matter” and “You will not replace us!” They were met by a group of counter-protestors who had encircled the Jefferson statue. Several counter-protestors were injured by protestors wielding the torches, and others reported being sprayed with pepper spray.
Protesting reached a peak the following day, Aug. 12, where a clash between white supremacists and counter protestors ensued. Counter-protestor and Charlottesville resident Heather Heyer was ultimately killed when James Fields drove into a group of counter-protestors on the Downtown Mall.
Immediately preceding the ban, Kessler visited the University Law School Library claiming he was there to conduct research in preparation for a civil lawsuit against him filed by Charlottesville resident James Taylor. Once at the library, Kessler was met with students and community members protesting his presence. After the incident in mid-April, University Law Prof. Anne Coughlin and a group of Law students reinvigorated calls upon the University to ban Kessler from Grounds.
Last November, jurors unanimously ruled against “Unite the Right” organizers — including Kessler and Spencer — on four of six civil claims, awarding over $25 million in damages for charges including conspiracy to commit violence, assault and battery, racial harassment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
UPD cited the same reasons for reissuing the new ban, which has no set end date and lasts until further notice. With the ban renewed, Glover reiterated the University’s commitment to “take action to limit disruptions or threats to health and safety on or around our Grounds.”