Content Advisory: Violent and racist language
Charlottesville, VA – Last year, white supremacist Jason Kessler sought to bring together a large coalition of far-right, white nationalist and neo-nazi groups under the banner of his ‘Unite The Right’ event in Charlottesville. While the events of August 12, 2017 have seriously fractured the ‘alt-right’ movement, whose factions have turned on each other in the fallout of the death of Heather Heyer, Kessler is still planning a ‘Unite The Right 2’ anniversary event and has been promoting events in both Charlottesville and Washington, DC for the weekend of August 12, 2018.
Unicorn Riot has obtained logs of a Facebook Messenger chat group created by Kessler to plan his ‘Unite The Right 2’ event. The chat logs, provided by an anonymous source, show messages sent and received between May 13 and June 14 of this year. They show Kessler struggling to plan basic event logistics, frustrated by lawsuits, and desperate for support from a movement that has largely turned its back on him.
Potential speakers for the rally are named by Kessler to include neo-nazi Congressional candidate Paul Nehlen, and former KKK leader David Duke. Despite ‘Unite The Right’ already being heavily associated with neo-nazi and Klan groups, the planners of the 2018 event seem obsessed with somehow re-branding themselves as non-racist. Kessler and his cohorts also discussed inviting a token “non-white” speaker with the hope that it would give them “political cover” to bring on white supremacist speakers such as Duke.
Some of the earlier chat messages also show Kessler arguing with other chat participants about how to “normalize” anti-semitic views without “delegitimizing the criticism with cartoon anti-semitism.”
It is unclear if any logistics, such as transportation, will be finalized in time for the August 12, 2018 events Kessler claims to be planning. Kessler repeatedly asked participants in his Facebook chat to help him look into bus rentals for the anniversary event but added “don’t call anywhere near Charlottesville.” Kessler also said that he had given up trying to find housing arrangements because it was “too complicated for me to deal with…I have enough on my plate.”
Throughout the chats, Kessler seemed to be disrupted in his organizing attempts by the ongoing legal issues he is facing. “I’m getting dragged into court for 2 full days of depositions in the federal case starting this morning,” he wrote on May 15.
Unsurprisingly, many of the messages in Kessler’s Facebook chat for planning Unite The Right 2 seem to echo the violence from last August which landed him in court in the first place.
Some white supremacists involved in planning ‘Unite The Right 2’ debated whether the same violent approach from the first Unite the Right should be repeated. ‘Dave Shyne’ argued in favor of organizing for engaging in street fights, based on his experience last year in Charlottesville: “I was in that shield wall. I don’t think optics should be much of a concern. This event by default will attract those with the biggest balls. That’s what we need.” (However, Shyne later added “most people don’t want to touch this thing.”) Shyne has also posted on Facebook about his support for the Atomwaffen Division, an armed neo-nazi paramilitary group tied to several murders and bomb plots across the US.
‘Dave Shyne’ has been exposed by Charlottesville activists as an alias of Virginia resident David Rother, who attended Unite The Right in Charlottesville and has testified in court on behalf of neo-nazi internet personality Christopher Cantwell who is facing charges from the violent ‘torch rally’ in Charlottesville on August 11, 2017. David Rother also has an extensive criminal record which includes several violent felonies such as ‘unlawful wounding.’
Another security organizer for ‘Unite The Right 2’ made many comments encouraging violence in Kessler’s Facebook chat. ‘McCormick H Foley’ told the chat group that he was “coming with some of our Hammer skin friends.” Members of the Hammerskins skinhead gang were also involved in a June 2016 neo-nazi rally at the California State Capitol in Sacramento, co-organized with the Traditionalist Worker Party, at which several anti-racist protesters and a journalist were stabbed.
Cross-references of the Facebook profile ‘McCormick H Foley’ reveal that the profile is an alias for a man using the name ‘Fred Arena’. Fred Arena is known as a member of Vanguard America, the neo-nazi group that James Alex Fields was seen marching with last August before he carried out the car attack which killed Heather Heyer.
One particularly unhinged message from ‘McCormick Foley’ contained a violent threat that he said was addressed to antifascists as well as federal agents, both of whom he said he wanted to “challenge to a fight…til one of us are not moving.”
When asked how many people he could bring to the rally to act in a security capacity, ‘McCormick’ responded that he could bring “7 to 15” people made up of his Vanguard America group and “maybe a few hammerskins.” When asked “how many are vets?,” he quickly answered “quite a few actually”, and also added “We are paramilitary + neo-Nazi.”
‘McCormick’ aka ‘Fred’ left the Facebook Messenger chat on June 2 due to a disagreement over security plans for the event, was re-added to the chat on June 14, and then removed from the chat again on June 25.
Apart from talk of a security team staffed by Vanguard America and neo-nazi Hammerskins, Jason Kessler proposed reaching out to other known violent groups to provide security. He asked his fellow planners to get in touch with ‘FOAK’, or the ‘Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights,’ the self-described “tactical defensive arm” of the Proud Boys, a violent far-right group started by VICE Media co-founder Gavin McInnes. (Kessler joined the Proud Boys before organizing the first Unite The Right.)
One of Kessler’s co-organizers, a man using the name ‘Danny Wolf’, shared his concerns about security for the event and also notes that his “significant other is in Law Enforcement.” Wolf discussed having conversations with members of the Proud Boys to encourage them to attend Unite The Right 2. Wolf also said he was in contact with Tiny Tusitala, a member of the violent Patriot Prayer group led by alt-right hate preacher Joey Gibson, who claims to oppose Nazis but whose events are repeatedly attended by many white supremacists.
Another person helping Kessler to organize Unite The Right 2, Rickey Entwisle, had posted in the chat about his involvement in a far-right ‘Resist Marxism’ rally in Boston in early June 2018.
Likely inspired by his ongoing legal problems, Kessler at times expressed concerns at the violent rhetoric being used in his Unite The Right 2 planning chat. “Please don’t talk about fighting anyone at the rally,” he wrote on May 28. “Hurts the legal situation.” He also chastised other event co-planners for discussing whether their security team should plan for violence: “this is absolutely the wrong kind of thing to be talking about on Facebook.”
Kessler’s attempts to water down talk of violence at his second Unite The Right event are somewhat ironic when compared to leaked Discord messages sent during his planning for last summer in Charlottesville. In the Discord chat he created for the first Unite The Right, Kessler encouraged attendees to “get ready for a real fight” and “bring picket signs that can be used as sticks to bludgeon our enemies.”
As of this writing, Kessler’s application for a permit from the National Park Service in Washington, DC has received an initial approval but no formal permit has yet been issued. Kessler has sued the city of Charlottesville for denying his permit application to hold a rally in Emancipation Park, also on August 12.
Browse an HTML archive of Kessler’s Facebook Messenger group chat logs below. Click here to download a copy of the .HTML file.
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