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Kessler Lawsuit Against Charlottesville Dismissed, But Could Return

Man before microphones
Kessler claims that city police deliberately stood down. (Photo: Hawes Spencer/VPM)

The lead organizer of 2017's deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville told VPM News he plans to appeal the dismissal of his lawsuit, which claimed police inaction violated his First Amendment rights.

The dismissal of Jason Kessler's lawsuit raised no eyebrows among Constitutional scholars, but one Charlottesville lawyer, Scott Goodman, says he's intrigued by Kessler's planned appeal. "The circumstances in Charlottesville were so unusual, where you really had strong evidence that the police department stood back and allowed combatants to fight and allowed counter-protesters to shut down Mr. Kessler and his group that had been given a permit," Goodman said.

Goodman says the clash between the First Amendment and what's often called hate speech marks this as a case ripe for review: "It may even go to the Supreme Court because this certainly is an important issue that needs to be decided once and for all."

After the rally was canceled, a neo-Nazi from Ohio drove his car into a group of counter-protesters, killing one and injuring 35 others. He's now serving multiple life sentences.

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