Charlottesville, VA – The lawsuit against leading white supremacist organizers and groups began trial on October 25, 2021 at the federal courthouse in Charlottesville, Virginia. Attorneys with civil rights nonprofit Integrity First For America are representing victims of racist attacks at the ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville in August 2017.
NOTE: Rush transcripts are generated from Unicorn Riot’s live tweets posted in real-time while observing trial proceedings from inside the courthouse media room. Quotations and descriptions written here are not always precise verbatim quotes and sometimes use paraphrasing or shorthand to quickly capture and convey exchanges during court hearings. There may be some errors regarding details like jury numbers, exhibit numbers and dates as well as typos and missing punctuation. These rush transcripts do not capture every single moment but are our attempt to provide the public with as much direct access to the trial as possible until full court transcripts are made publicly available at a later date.
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Read Unicorn Riot's live tweets from trial proceedings - Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 | Day 11 | Day 12 | Day 13 | Day 14 | Day 15 | Day 16 | Day 17 | Day 18 | Day 19
Day 13 – Nov. 10, 2021 (Collected from this tweet thread)
The day started with plaintiff Marcus Martin, who narrowly survived the car attack at Unite the Right with greivous injuries.
It was followed by testimony from plaintiff Reverend Seth Wispelwey. (Jump to Wispelwey testimony)
After this was testimony from the Identity Evropa leader at the time Nathan Damigo, a defendant in this lawsuit. (Jump to Damigo testimony)
The last testimony was a video recorded deposition from Michael Chesny, which ran until the end of the day and was resumed on Day 14. Chesny was ousted from the U.S. Marine Corps for his white supremacist organizing in April 2018. He was exposed through research by Emily Gorcenski, who used material Unicorn Riot published in the Discord Leaks platform.
Good morning! Court is starting for the 13th day of trial in ‘Sines v. Kessler’, the civil rights lawsuit filed by @IntegrityforUSA against Unite The Right neo-nazi rally organizers.
Marcus Martin (Plaintiff) Testimony
Today’s proceedings are beginning with testimony from plaintiff Marcus Martin, a survivor of the James Fields car attack. Martin lived in the Charlottesville area and came to counter-protest Unite The Right on August 12.
Martin was walking up 4th street with a crowd of people before the car attack occurred – his friend Courtney was on his side, his friend Heather was on his other side, and his fiancee Marissa Blair was walking behind him. Marcus Martin was trying to go live on Facebook when he heard a tire screech, looked up and saw bodies flying, and “I pushed Marissa out of the way, I tried to get out of the way but I was struck by the car…it hit me and I tossed and turned through the air.”
Plaintiffs’ attorney David Mills from the Integrity First For America legal team is showing Martin photos taken during the car attack, asking him to indicate himself in the pics. Famous photos that went viral immediately when the news broke show Martin flying through air after being struck. Martin describes crawling on the hood of another car to get out the way before Fields reversed his car.
Mills: How did you do that?
Mills: what happened after that?
Martin: I had medics running up to me, asking me what was wrong… I just wanted to find Marissa
Mills: did you find her… how did that happened?
Martin: the medics [helped reunite us]
Mills asks Martin about his shoes, Martin tells the court he only had one shoe on him when he was in the hospital because the other one came off when he was hit by the car.
Mills shows the court a photo, Martin says he recognizes his shoe in the photo – it’s in the grill of Fields’ car.
Martin says he was a “big sneakerhead” and his then-fiancee Marissa Blair got him these “very rare” Jordans for Christmas after hearing him rave about them.
Mills shows Martin a photo of his two shoes taken after the incident – he says he can tell them apart “because they had to cut this one off my foot.”
Asked by Mills about his injuries from the car attack, Martin says he shattered his left leg, had a torn ligament in his left foot, scrapes in his right leg, and what he came to know was a brain injury. Martin makes a twisting motion with his arms in the witness stand to demonstrate what his leg and foot looked like when he arrived in the hospital – it took 4 days for the swelling to go down enough for him to get surgery on it – had to get 2 screws and there were “complications.”
Asked by Mills to describe his recovery process, Martin says it lasted about 8 months to go from a wheelchair to gradually less intense methods of walking support such as crutches before he could fully walk again. Mills shows the court a picture of Marcus Martin and and Marissa Blair in the hospital, Martin appears to be asleep in his hospital bed.
Mills shows the court a summary chart of Martin’s medical costs – most line items are in the tens of thousands of $$ Mills asks Martin about his head injury, he describes “just feeling something that isn’t right… anger, trust issues, headaches, bad flashbacks.”
Mills shows the court a text message Martin sent to his then-fiancee Marissa Blair where he talks about how “the blow…shook something up… something isn’t right… I can feel it.”
Martin says he didn’t talk to a doctor at first bc he thought this was normal & would go away. Martin tells the court he was diagnosed with PTSD two months after the car attack. Says he sought counseling but he didn’t find it helpful.
Mills: were there activities you enjoyed before August 12, 2017 that you can’t really do anymore?
Martin: basketball, lifting weights, playing softball
Mills: can you play basketball at all anymore?
Martin: no… fear of jumping and coming down on my leg
Mills: what about softball?
Martin: I can’t run past first base
Mills: has it affected your ability to drive?
Martin: yes… I can’t drive for long periods… Martin says in 2017 he was working at a landscaping company but he missed work as a result of his injuries in 2017 and 2018.
Mills shows the court a summary chart of Marcus Martin’s lost wages after the attack, based on his tax returns and pay stubs for 2017-2018.
Mills: have you experienced mental and emotional trauma as a result of the events of August 12, 2017?
Martin: I have real bad anger issues that stem from this… not being able to stay on task
Martin: describes having flashbacks at work where he “froze”
Mills: has the emotional trauma affected your relationship with friends and family?
Martin: people just didn’t want to be around me because of what it had done to me, it pushed one of the best things that ever happened to me out of my life
Mills: what was that?
Mills shows the court a February 2018 text Marcus Martin sent to Marissa Blair – Martin wrote “I know I have to get back to that happy place in my life and I’ve never been there before you but I was there for so long until August 12 happened and it has really fucked me up rissa”
Mills: do you still experience the effects of August 12 in your life today?
Mills: do you believe they’ll ever go away?
David Mills is done w direct examination of Marcus Martin.
Seems like most or all defendants except Chris Cantwell are declining to cross-examine Marcus Martin. Cantwell, representing himself & openly treating this trial as a performance, has seemed to relish the opportunity to re-traumatize car attack survivors during cross-examination.
Cantwell: you said you brought a black bandana with you that day… do you often carry a black bandana?
Martin: I normally carry a towel… that was the only thing I had in my vehicle
Cantwell: so you keep a black bandana in your vehicle?
Martin: it was just there
Cantwell: did you notice other people wearing bandanas that day?
Cantwell: did you notice other people wearing bandanas over their face?
Cantwell: did you know that at the time it was illegal to wear a mask in Virginia?
Judge Moon: it’s irrelevant
Cantwell is asking the same Qs he’s asked other car attack survivors – did you see any weapons, did you see the sign with the raised first on it… Martin didn’t notice any
Cantwell: did you know what antifa was?
Martin: after August 12
Cantwell: did you find out after August 12 that antifa was a violent group?
Judge Moon: sustained
Cantwell shows Marcus Martin one of the pictures of the car attack where Martin is flying through the air (he first mistakenly called Martin ‘Mr. Willis’, Devin Willis is another plaintiff witness).
Cantwell asks Martin if he saw a bandana and sign seen in the photo – Martin says he didn’t see anything at that moment.
Cantwell is done cross-examining Martin, Martin is excused as a witness.
Reverend Seth Wispelwey (Plaintiff) Testimony
The next witness called to testify is Reverend Seth Wispelwey, another plaintiff in the case. Integrity First For America attorney Roberta Kaplan is questioning Rev. Wispelwey on direct examination – Wispelwey says he is a Reverend in the United Church of Christ which he says “believes that God is alive and moving in our world today and driving us all to love and justice”
Kaplan: do you have your own personal theology on top of that?
Rev. Wispelwey:.. I believe that there is a living and loving God, a spirit among us that loves each human being whole-heartedly and unconditionally… Jesus of Nazareth modeled that love in relationship & deeds…
Wispelwey tells Kaplan that he grew up in Charlottesville and went to college at UVA, went to graduate school at Princeton Theological Seminary & Boston College School of Theology & Ministry
Kaplan: In summer of 2017 what were you doing day to day?
Wispelwey: I took over as Reverend for a small nonprofit… I was a member and also on the governing board of Sojourner’s United Church of Christ here in town
Kaplan asks Wispelwey how he learned about Unite The Right, he says a few days after Jason Kessler applied for the permit. He and a United Church of Christ colleague started an entity called Congregate to “give people an avenue to show up in love and support… for what we understood was a potentially…violent..event.”
Wispelwey talks about working with members and groups from Charlottesville’s Black community to organize ahead of Unite The Right – he says one of Congregate’s driving motives was to address the “existential threat” the neo-nazi rally posed to Black, Muslim & Jewish ppl in Charlottesville.
Wispelwey says Congregate held weekly gatherings at a church, theological conversations about “faith in public” and discussing supporting opposition to Unite The Right, “simulating safe practices in volatile situations” to prepare
Kaplan: was Congregate doing trainings that summer.. what did they involve?
Wispelwey: singing, conversations, simulating volatile situations
Kaplan: how many ppl would show up to those?
Wispelwey: about 60-80 each week Kaplan: about how many local faith leaders were involved in Congregate?
Wispelwey: about 10 or a dozen each week
Kaplan: did Congregate have a view about violence in relation to the event?
Wispelwey: we were explicitly non-violent
Kaplan: what were your plans for August 12, 2017?
Wispelwey: we had planned a mass prayer meeting, in the tradition of the civil rights movement, with singing & sermons for the community… we felt called…to use it as an opportunity to respond by telling a different story… I knew a lot of ppl were scared and hurt and confused and this was meant to be a place to get right with the spirit… and talk about what’s possible… our motto that summer was ‘love over fear’
Kaplan: where did you hold that service?
Rev. Wispelwey: St. Paul’s Memorial Episcopal Church on the UVA corner… it’s large sanctuary could hold 100s… it was a welcoming space… we stretched the limits of the fire code [on the night of August 11]
Kaplan is showing the court a clip taken from a Katie Couric news video – it shows Rev. Wispelwey standing outside St. Paul’s church on the day of August 11 saying “my role… is to call people to stand up in the face of evil and stand up for what is good…”
Kaplan: Katie Couric interviewed you… her crew kind of followed you around, what was the purpose of that?
Rev. Wispelwey: some community members dealing w media requests.. asked me if I was ok being a part of it… Couric wanted people who had grown up in Charlottesville…
Kaplan: at the end of the video the still.. is inside the service itself…. set the scene, tell the jury what was going on at that service
Rev. Wispelwey: the service was a mountaintop experience… faith leaders had come from all around the country…
Roberta Kaplan shows the court a photo of Rev. Wispelwey speaking at the August 11 service at St. Paul’s church
Kaplan: did there come a time when you learned there was a march with tiki torches near the church?
Rev. Wispelwey: yes.. some of my colleagues out in front of the torch learned about the torch march
Kaplan pulls up a map of UVA campus, has Rev. Wispelwey point out where the church was (right across the street from the Jefferson statue where the tiki torch rally ended)
Kaplan: when you became aware of the tiki torch march approaching the church… did you tell people inside the service?
Wispelwey: We were winding down our service and got word… our song leader made the announcement to the church, had them sit down, we didn’t want to create a panic.. we told them “we have a situation outside, we’re gonna keep singing but no one go out the front doors right now”
Kaplan shows Wispelwey a still from the Couric documentary of the crowd inside the church after they were warned about the “threat outside” – the people in the church pews look concerned Kaplan asks Wispelwey about considerations about whether or not to evacuate the church – “we started evacuating people through the kitchen… through the allies… we insisted on the buddy system… we had people go out in groups”… eventually they got everyone out by ~11:30 PM
Kaplan shows Rev. Wispelwey a picture of him holding his upset daughter after the service in the church, he says his daughter had a panic attack
Defense objects, Judge Moon overrules
Kaplan: what’s the first thing you did on August 12?
Rev. Wispelwey: woke up early… headed to First Baptist Church where Congregate had planned a sunrise service
Kaplan: had Congregate considered changing your plans for August 12?
Rev. Wispelwey: we were up late discussing but decided “our presence and the hope we planned to bring should continue…” Wispelwey says the First Baptist Church is a historically Black church in Charlottesville founded after Emancipation
Kaplan plays a video clip of the sunrise service at First Baptist at 6 AM on August 12, Rev. Wispelwey is seen amongst worshippers
Kaplan asks Wispelwey to describe the service at First Baptist, he describes it as a “get up and go” service “we heard some inspiring words”, says many of those there had attended the Congregate trainings, some came from across the country. Wispelwey names different faith leaders who traveled to attend, including Cornel West.
After the service concluded, Wispelwey says some attendees marched to McGuffey Park and “I and several other clergy and folks got in a two line column and walked downtown past this courthouse to the downtown mall and up to Market Street… we got to Market Street… around 10 AM…”
Kaplan shows the court a photo of Rev. Wispelwey and other faith leaders walking arm in arm to Market Street on the morning of Unite The Right Kaplan: what did you do when you got to Emancipation Park?
Rev. Wispelwey: we pulled out into a single-file line on the sidewalk facing into the park
Kaplan shows an aerial map of the area, asks Wispelwey if their group encircled the park – he says partially, “we only had 40-50 people”
Kaplan shows a video of the group of clergy marching towards the park and lining up as neo-nazis chant “blood and soil”, Eli Mosley/Eliott Kline can be seen escorting formations of alt-right attendees into the park.
Kaplan: did you see any Unite The Right attendees entering the park?
Rev. Wispelwey describes seeing groups march in for several hours and chanting and “yelling slurs at us”
Kaplan asks why clergy were linking arms, Rev. Wispelwey says “we wanted to communicate that we were bound together”
Kaplan: were you blocking any entrances…?
Wispelwey: no Kaplan: at some point did you kneel…why did you do that?
Wispelwey:…to represent our motto of ‘love over fear’… a lot of hateful stuff was getting thrown at us…kneeling… is a supplication, a way of saying we are vulnerable but also not afraid Kaplan shows the court a photo of Rev. Wispelwey and other clergy kneeling on the sidewalk
Kaplan: did there come a time where you moved from the sidewalk… to another place?
Rev. Wispelwey: yes, some of us moved to the steps on the southeast intersection (of the park)
Kaplan plays the court a video exhibit- it shows Wispelwey and other clergy standing on the park steps and a group of neo-nazis with shields pushing through the clergy group
Kaplan: can you tell the jury what you remember happening as depicted in this video?
ev. Wispelwey: some of us were looking into the park.. shortly before that video I heard yelling of “kill the f*gg*t priests”… I was pushed, tripped into the bushes… When i stood up and got my bearing a large man was standing over me and yelling “fuck you f*gg*t” over and over again in my face… our group parted after the men with shields bashed through…everyone was in shock..
Kaplan: was this entrance being used for an entrance into the park?
Rev: Wispelwey: no, as we had seen for hours… the only entrance being used was at the southwest corner
Kaplan: you heard “kill the f**g*t priests, was other stuff being yelled at the clergy members?
Rev: Wispelwey: I also heard “move the fuck aside, clergy” as they were pushing through
Kaplan: what did you decide to do next?
Rev: Wispelwey: it was a sobering moment, we were rattled… we could feel the dread, the temperature raising around us… decided it was still worth making a presence… to the side of the steps… that’s when we saw another large group coming up the street… …a huge group of men were walking with flags, shields…”
Kaplan plays the court another video exhibit – PX-3239 – it’s not this exact video but shows this scene of League of the South & Traditionalist Worker party members marching up Market Street before attacking counter-protesters:
Rev. Wispelwey: yes… I tend to lock up… I started to experience a burning sensation and would look for physiological causes…
Kaplan: are there things you were able to do before August 12, 2017 that you aren’t able to do now?
Rev. Wispelwey: I was able to work full time before but have a hard time with that now.. socially I can’t go out like I used to… I was an extrovert but I don’t know what I am anymore… I prefer a small, trusted group of friends whenever I go out now…
Kaplan shows the court a document charting Wispelwey’s therapy & medical costs related to impacts from August 11-12
Kaplan: before August 11-12, 2017, where you in contact with anyone you understood to be a member of antifa?
Kaplan: before August 11-12, 2017 had you even heard that word?
Kaplan: you’ve been quoted as saying “antifa saved my life on August 12”, can you explain that?
Wispelwey: I was asked to write an article in the aftermath… I understood the term to be a catch-all for counter-protesters.. I said they saved my life and our lives because in that clip of League of the South & NSM walking up… …other counter-protesters who i saw as antifa had moved bodily in front of us, I genuinely feared for our safety and the moved so they were in front of us, League of the South and the other groups charged into them, and they took the hit..”
Kaplan: you’ve posted that “Jesus is antifa” can you explain that?
Rev. Wispelwey: I believe Jesus would be against fascism, Jesus modeled equality… I understand fascism to be a form of authoritarian governance that seeks to elevate a few..while explicitly keeping others down…
Rev. Wispelwey calls fascism “a dream that runs counter to the dreams of God”… “Jesus as I understand him is against fascism because Jesus is for all of us…”
Kaplan: why did you decide to join this case?
Rev. Wispelwey: I was damaged badly by the events of that summer..many people in this community were wounded..as a person of faith and a pastor I believe truth sets us free & there were a lot of truths from that day that need to be surfaced..there is no justice without repair…
Judge Moon calls for a 20 min recess now – any defense counsel (or Pro Se defendants representing themselves) who choose to can cross-examine Reverend Seth Wispelwey after the break
Court is resuming any moment now,
Judge Moon is walking back in.
Richard Spencer (representing himself) is cross-examining Reverend Seth Wispelwey now – he’s pulling up a video exhibit of an MSNBC interview Wispelwey gave and having a hard time getting the audio to play on the video, court techs are working on it. The audio is working now – Spencer plays the clip where Seth Wispelwey says “Thomas Jefferson is in many ways the godfather of white supremacy in our country” and talks about Jefferson’s racist views and the need for the USA “to reconcile with that.”
Spencer: do you still believe that Thomas Jefferson is a “godfather of white supremacy”?
Wispelwey: as a founding father… he wrote and articulated beliefs that are racist…
Spencer: you consider your church to be mainline protestant, is that correct?
Wispelwey: yes (describes other churches he considers mainline protestant)
Spencer asks Wispelwey about the theological doctrine of ‘Sola scriptura’, Wispelwey says he hasn’t heard the term since college and gives his definition
Spencer gets condescending and pedantic saying Wispelwey is “clearly” not an expert on it
Spencer: you claim that.. lord God will judge Thomas Jefferson, what do you mean by that?
Rev. Wispelwey: he knew at the end of his life that God would just America’s original sin… he was terrified to go to hell as an enslaver
Spencer: how does one in your tradition get to heaven?
Wispelwey: I’m not sure what doctrine UCC has on heaven and hell and the afterlife.. a lot of guidance on these things come from the local church
Judge Moon: let’s move on past this
Spencer: i think this is very important your honor…
Judge Moon: I don’t think this is relevant to any issues in the case
Spencer: I am suggesting that he is motivated by activism… left wing activism…not theology
Judge Moon: well don’t get into Heaven and all that
Spencer: did God love the Cannanites?
Spencer: this is a terribly important question…
Wispelwey: I believe God loves every person
Spencer: asks more Bible questions
Kaplan: we’re really getting far afield here…
Judge Moon: it started far afield…
Wispelwey is talking about the story of Joshua in the Old Testament in response to questions about scripture from Richard Spencer
Spencer: you are a pastor, this is the Bible we’re talking about… have you read the Bible?
Spencer: are there laws in the Hebrew scriptures against slavery?
Wispelwey: the Bible says a lot of different things about slavery…
Spencer: are there laws in the pentateuch about slavery… can you explain those to us?
Judge Moon: sustained
Spencer: is it safe to say you are motivated by another cause than anything you have read in the Bible?
Spencer: before Unite The Right were you aware of me, Richard Spencer?
Spencer: how did you become aware
Wispelwey: read profiles, saw a video
Spencer: …what are you referring to?
Wispelwey: a video surfaced of you leading a chant w a nazi salute
Spencer: are you aware of any other videos having to do with me – a punch, does that come to mind?
Wispelwey: I did see a video of you getting punched, yes.
Spencer asks Wispelwey what he thought about seeing him get punched, Wispelwey says he is opposed to violence of any kind.
Spencer is asking Wispelwey about how the Katie Couric documentary featuring him came about, the Reverend explains getting introduced to Couric etc
Spencer: why would you expose yourself to that.. why would you go out of your way to take part in such a video?
Wispelwey: I don’t know that I’d classify it as going out of my way… it felt important for telling our story that Charlottesville was uniting around love…
Spencer: you said you were going to ‘stand up in the face of evil’, what did you mean by that?
Wispelwey: our presence in the street… not just that line on Market Street but we had folks providing food and water…
Spencer: you went out of your way to take part in standing against evil, what you called an existential threat?
Wispelwey: yes, it was a source of great fear for my Jewish and Black and queer friends especially
Spencer: On August 12 did you see me at any time?
Spencer: were you aware of my religious leanings, my background?
Spencer: but fellow protestants are brothers in Christ…?
Wispelwey: I’m not sure what’s meant by ‘brothers in Christ’…
Spencer: but if one repents and puts his faith in Jesus Christ, is he saved?
Kaplan: objection, relevance
Judge Moon: sustained, I don’t think this…
Spencer: no further questions, thank you
Next up to cross-examine Reverend Seth Wispelwey is David Campbel, lawyer for James Fields
Campbel: you were not in the crowd when the car attack occured?
Wispelwey: right, I was up the street
Campbel: all the costs you’re claiming on this case are from therapy?
Wispelway points out there was also ER visit costs included.
Campbel is done cross-examining Wispelwey.
Next to cross-examine Wispelwey is Bryan Jones, lawyer for Micahel Tubbs, Michael Hill and the League of the South. Jones asks Rev. Wispelwey about the position he and other clergy took lined up outside the park on the morning of August 12
Jones: as far as you could tell all the rally attendees were coming in through the southwest entrance?
Wispelwey: yes.. [describes scene]
Jones: at some point you moved to the stairs… on the southeast entrance… why did you move there?
Wispelwey:..there was a lot more ppl in the park..in a single-file line we were feeling more vulnerable & exposed.. also putting together that everyone was coming from that direction, we wanted to move our witness… to defuse tension… the street was getting very full…
Jones is asking about the group that pushed through Wispelwey and other clergy on the steps into the park – Wispelwey says he had his back turned so he didn’t see the whole group approach. Jones is showing a video exhibit, it shows a group of rally attendees marching towards the park entrance where Wispelwey & other clergy had been standing. Jones fast-forwards the video to show the clergy group including Rev. Wispelwey standing at the top of the stairs into the park – stops on a frame and asks Wispelwey to circle himself. The video goes on to eventually show a group of rallygoers charging up the stairs and pushing through the clergy group.
Jones: i believe you testified that as this group entered the park… you were pushed and fel.l..
Wispelwey: yes I was pushed, jostled and lost my balance and fell into some bushes
Jones: you are not sure who shoved you into the tree?
Wispelwey: I don’t know who exactly… it all happened really fast
Jones: you didn’t see them start approaching the stairs at all?
Wispelwey: I did not see them, I heard them yelling
Jones: you were aware they had a permit to demonstrate in the park that day, correct?
Wispelwey: I knew there was a permit for the Unite The Right rally
Jones asks about the “separate incident” where League of the South was marching up Market Street and charging into people.
Jones asks Wispelwey about his “Jesus is antifa” tweet
Jones: you testified on direct that the reason you tweeted that was bc in this particular sequence of events you felt that antifa protected you from the rally attendees, is that correct or incorrect?
Wispelwey: that’s incorrect (Wispelwey actually tweeted “antifa saved my life” in reference to the second incident w League of the South, the Jesus tweet came years later. Jones either has tweets mixed up or is purposefully misconstruing them)
Jones: you testified that antifa was protecting you here…?
Wispelwey: yes, they took a hit that would have come to us…
Jones (showing the video of the Market Street charge by League of the South & co. charging into counter-protest) are you aware of any other videos of antifa protecting you…?
Jones is performing exasperation for the jury: you said you had other videos of antifa protecting you on August 12, now you say you do not
Kaplan: objection, misrepresenting testimony
Judge Moon: sustained
Jones: the only time you say they protected you is here where you are standing 20 yards behind them?
Wispelwey: this is not my video, I was testifying about my experience…
Jones: you testified that you did tweet “antifa is Jesus” – in your theology is Jesus sinless?
Wispelwey: I did not testify that “antifa is Jesus”, the tweet is “Jesus is antifa”…I believe that Jesus modeled the dreams & visions of God…in a way that was beyond reproach”
Jones: you tweeted that “Jesus is antifa” years after the event… when you had had time to review a lot of footage of the event?
Rev. Wispelwey: …yes…
Jones: thank you that’s all the questions I have
Up next to cross-examine plaintiff and witness Reverend Seth Wispelwey is Chris Cantwell (representing himself) – he requests a sidebar before starting his cross, Judge Moon agrees, the parties approach the bench.
Cantwell: so, the article we were talking about was in Slate… (publishes the article to the jury)…
Cantwell: you stated that “without antifa there the body count could have been much worse?”
Wispelwey: (reads the quote from the article)
Cantwell: (angrily reads a longer quote from the article,)
Cantwell: do you think that’s an editorial mistake, that they connected the body count to antifa..?
Wispelwey: no,… a lot more people could have been hurt
Cantwell: how are you identifying the people that were actually antifa?
Wispelwey: it was a new term to me, it was a catch-all for … people I understand to be against fascism, so the shorthand in the literal sense
Cantwell: what’s your relationship with Emily Gorcenski?
Wispelwey: I follow her on Twitter, I believe I only met her in person once
Cantwell: how long have you been following Emily Gorcenski on Twitter?
Wispelwey: I’d guess since 2017 or 2018
Cantwell: You mentioned you helped found a group called Congregate Cville..?
Wispelwey: Yes..in May or June 2017..
Cantwell: what is Congregate’s relationship with the Clergy Collective?
Wispelwey: …I was a member, it’s meant to build relationships between faith leaders…
Cantwell: you spoke to Tim Heaphy when he was conducting his investigation…?
Wispelwey: I recall.. one time…
Cantwell: what did you speak to him about?
Wispelwey: events leading up to & through July 8, 2017…he wanted to meet with me further but I declined
Cantwell: did you talk to Heaphy about the differences between the Clergy Collective & Congregate Cville?
Wispelwey: I don’t recall
Cantwell: tell me about the term Cville-ity
Wispelwey: a play on words.. a branding exercise,… I don’t really recall
Cantwell: wasn’t it true that the reason you founded Congregate Cville was that you thought that ‘Cville-ity’ was a problem?
Wispelwey: we were concerned about…white supremacist threats.. &.. friends & colleagues.. who were Black and Jewish were asking for support & solidarity Cantwell: it was time to stop being civil with the racists, right?
Wispelwey: that’s not a phrase that was part of our mission…
Cantwell: did you attend the Klan rally on July 8th?
Wispelwey: I did
Cantwell: that was sort of a preview for the August 12th event, wasn’t it?
Wispelwey: I’m not sure, a preview for whom?
Cantwell: did you know the police said they were under attack from the protesters?
Wispelwey: I don’t recall hearing that
Cantwell: do you know if anyone attending on August 12th was also at the July 8 Klan rally?
Wispelwey: I have no way of knowing… I know a few clergy who were there
Cantwell: did you tell Mr. Heaphy that you thought you had to confront the Klan and their hateful speech?
Wispelwey: I don’t recall what I said to Mr. Heaphy
Cantwell: do you feel that way, that you have to confront hateful speech?
Wispelwey: I feel called to show up in the name of love… when people are under attack…
Cantwell: at the July 8th event did you tell Tim Heaphy you were concerned by the lack of de-escalation training?
Wispelwey: I don’t recall that
Cantwell: have you given non-violence training workshops?
Cantwell is asking Wispelwey to define the purpose of “non-violence trainings”
Cantwell: you’ve expressed that you were totally committed to non-violence… what if the people on your same side are not committed to non-violence, then what?
Judge Moon: sustained, it’s so vague
Cantwell: when was the first time you heard the phrase diversity of tactics
Wispelwey: I’m not sure, sometime in the last few years
Cantwell: what does the term mean to you?
Wispelwey: different tactics…it really depends on the context but my definition is exactly what it sounds like, different ways of achieving different goals
Cantwell: what does diversity of tactics mean in an antifa context?
Judge Moon: can he answer it?
Wispelwey: I’m not sure what the “antifa context” means
Cantwell is asking about the “interfaith sermon featuring Cornel West” at St. Paul’s church…
Cantwell: somebody wrote an article describing a meeting with a “local radical minister”, does that sound like you?
Wispelwey: …I’m not sure…
Cantwell: do you know of a website called ItsGoingDown.org?
Wispelwey: yes, I follow them on Twitter
Cantwell: have you ever created a sermon based on an ItsGoingDown.org blog post?
Wispelwey: I’m not sure
Cantwell: does this refresh your memory?
Wispelwey: this is a tweet that I wrote…
Cantwell: have you ever formed a sermon based on a blog post from ItsGoingDown.org ?
Wispelwey: no, I don’t think so.. I shared an article on twitter and took a quote and said “today’s sermon”, like it was a ‘nugget of truth’ or something
Cantwell: I see
Cantwell shows the court a tweet Seth Wispelwey sent on December 8, 2018 where he wrote “a ‘diversity of tactics’, well organized and committed to ‘unified outcomes, is always welcome” – apparently in relation to a teachers’ strike
Cantwell shows another Wispelwey tweet where he wrote that “anti-fascism is community defense. We keep us safe”. The tweet is a quote tweet of @socialistdogmom, whose profile name in the tweet shows as “Molly Conger, communist degenerate” Cantwell is asking Wispelwey about when he met Conger, he says he met Conger after August 12.
Cantwell: do you know Conger to be antifa?
Cantwell: just a communist degenerate?…
Cantwell asks Wispelwey to define “community defense”
Cantwell:’community defense’ is similar to ‘diversity of tactics’?
Wispelwey: …it depends on the context…
Cantwell returns to quoting Wispelwey in the Slate article in a mocking tone – he gets excited at the part where Wispelwey describes “battalions of antifascist protesters”
Cantwell is getting into semantics about the difference between saying “antifa” or “antifascist”, then pivots back to reading through Wispelwey’s Slate interview in a feverish manner
Cantwell quotes the Wispelwey interview where he says “a phalanx of neo-nazis broke through our human wall” – Cantwell asks if Wispelwey and clergy were “blocking the entrance to the park”, Wispelwey says that spot wasn’t an “entrance to the rally” because there were barriers there.
Cantwell is claiming the clergy were blocking access to the rally in the Park – Wispelwey’s earlier testimony & related exhibits demonstrated that metal barrier fences were placed in a way that actually meant the rally proper couldn’t be accessed via those steps that morning.
Cantwell plays a clip of one of the video exhibits that was played earlier, of alt-right rally formations lining up to march towards the park. (You can hear defendant ‘Azzmador’ (Robert Ray) yelling “black lives don’t matter” at counter-protesters in the background.) Cantwell stops the video on a frame that shows the clergy on the steps – “are you blocking the park in this video… you’re bodily blocking the opinions of people who you don’t like?”
Wispelwey describes various reasons for the clergy linking arms
Cantwell: when you link arms you’re blocking the path of people who are trying to go through?
Wispelwey: if they were trying to go through where we had our arms linked… if would have to get sorted out
Cantwell: let’s watch this get sorted out, shall we? (resumes video playback)
The video shows alt-right members with white polos and black shields pushing their way through the clergy on the steps – the clergy aren’t seen pushing back and appear to basically just passively let them pass.
Cantwell is angrily reading the Slate article quotes at Wispelwey again, says “if i play that again will we hear the homophobic slurs and the screaming?”
Cantwell plays the video clip from the beginning again – “let’s give this another look shall we”
Cantwell: I think it’s fair to say some people say some not nice things.. but once you got out of their way nobody hit yous?… Once you let them past, problem solved right?
Wispelwey: I’m not sure what problem you’re referring to
Cantwell: the problem of you blocking the entrance to the park
Wispelwey: if you mean their assault on us, I suppose they solved the problem by assaulting us
Judge Moon calls for a break –
Judge Moon is back on the bench – is hearing from some of the plaintiffs about how tomorrow’s testimony will include materials related to the James Fields car attack. Evidence materials being discussed by plaintiffs now will include a pic of Fields’ bedroom full of nazi paraphernalia, and two jail phone calls – one where he calls Heather Heyer the enemy, another where he says there should be a white ethnostate with Richard Spencer as dictator. Judge Moon says he finds evidence exhibits related to James Fields to be admissible. Richard Spencer says he needs a “nudge in terms of looking at the evidence”, asks plaintiffs for “extra help” in anticipating evidence that has to do with him (such as James Fields’ tweets @-ing him).
Judge Moon calls the jury back in – Chris Cantwell’s cross-examination of Reverend Seth Wispelwey will resume momentarily.
Cantwell is back to harping on Wispelwey’s use of the phrase “community defense tools” in his Slate interview, Cantwell has asked a version of this question at least ten different times now, Wispelwey says tools could include using one’s own body for civil disobedience, and that he mostly meant the term hypothetically.
Cantwell pulls up another tweet sent by Seth Wispelwey where Wispelwey complained about “too many “well-meaning” progressive white folks who thing confronting white supremacists is “violence””
Cantwell: if a group of people got a permit to rally in a park and they were denied the opportunity…is that deplatforming?
Wispelwey: … that would assume someone had done something to do that…
Cantwell: Is Thomas Jefferson a terrorist?
Wispelwey:…. I can’t say
Cantwell, referring to an “Islamophobia is terrorism” tweet by Wispelwey, asks him to define Islamophobia
Cantwell: so hatred and fear is terrorism?
Wispelwey: …I think there are serious consequences from directing hatred and fear towards particular people groups, yes
Cantwell: what do we do to terrorists in the Unite States…?
Judge Moon: sustained
Cantwell: what is cis-het patriarchy? (referring to a tweet)
Wispelwey defines the term
Cantwell: do you believe that today we live in a patriarchal society?
Judge Moon: That’s neither here nor there for this case
Judge Moon: we don’t need to go into all the reasons he might not like you
Cantwell pulls up another tweet where Wispelwey wrote as part of a larger exchange, “if you have the privilege of questioning the value of punching Nazis/fascists, save your breath…” Wispelwey’s tweet shown by Cantwell ended with “or better yet, buy a milkshake”, Cantwell pulls up another tweet from Wispelwey that mentions milkshakes…
Cantwell: Who is Andy Ngo?
Wispelwey: a self-proclaimed journalist…
Cantwell: did Andy Ngo ever get a milkshake?
Wispelway: I don’t know… I do remember news stories where neo-fascist politicians had a milkshake poured on them once or twice
Cantwell: do you think that happened around the time you tweeted about milkshakes being the solution to your political problems?
Cantwell: so because Donald Trump puts kids in cages its okay to throw milkshakes on your political opponents?
Wispelwey: this was in the context of a nationwide debate..
Judge Moon: this question was about the milkshakes…under what circumstances does the milkshake come up?
Cantwell: you don’t think it’s assault to throw a milkshake on someone?
Wispelwey: I think violence is intending harm.. I have doubts a milkshake…is going to lead to a hospital visit
Cantwell: so pepper spray is okay then?
Wispelwey: …that leads to physical harm..it’s not the same
Cantwell: your purported commitment to nonviolence stops at milkshakes?
Wispelwey: I don’t seem to have much of an issue with it…
Cantwell: did you tell Tim Heaphy that the police “became the enemy” to many people at the July 8 Klan rally?
Wispelwey: it’s possible…
Judge Moon: I don’t think it’s relevant to this case
Cantwell plays video of the same scene shown earlier, where alt-right members are marching into the line of clergy at the steps to the park. Cantwell asks Wispelwey about his testimony that a large man stood over him and berated him when he was knocked down.
Cantwell: is that Cornel West right there?
Cantwell: did Cornel West stand with his back to you and do nothing while someone stood over you and berated you?…
Wispelwey: as I recall it happened somewhat before this
Cantwell rewinds and replays the video
Cantwell: now does it look like the clergy all just moved to one side to let them in there?
Wispelwey: it looks like that
Cantwell: they’ve still got their arms linked?
Cantwell: and none of those god fearing peoplpe turn around to help you?
Judge Moon: sustained
Wispelwey: yes, the group I was a part of, my friend helped pick me up
Cantwell: it was after this then?
Wispelwey: it was during this
Cantwell: no further Qs
Roberta Kaplan doing ‘re-direct’ questioning to Reverend Seth Wispelwey:
Kaplan: in that video that you were just watching… did you hear the white nationalists coming in saying “roof! Roof! Roof!”
Kaplan: thank you
Judge Moon: i just want to clear up one thing, did you sustain physical injury?
Wispelwey: I was scuffed up…
Kaplan: we don’t have any claims for Rev. Wispelwey with regards to physical injury
Nathan Damigo (Defendant) Testimony
Next witness called by the plaintiffs is defendant Nathan Damigo – former leader of the alt-right neo-nazi group Identity Evropa. Damigo is sworn in as a witness.
Damigo is being questioned on direct examination by Jessica Phillips from the plaintiffs’ legal team.
Phillips: In 2017 you considered yourself a white nationalist… believed that America was created for white people.. you advocated for a white ethnostate?
Phillips: in 2017 you believed that violence might be needed to create this white ethnostate?
Damigo: I don’t recall
Phillips refers to Damigo’s sworn deposition where he answered “theoretically speaking” when asked if he believed violence would be needed to create the white ethnostate he wanted.
Phillips shows the jury exhibit PX-2850, a Periscope video Damigo took that shows himself in his car laughing and saying “does your boss know…you better not let them find out that you’re watching a racist on his clock… ”
Phillips: you’re referring to yourself as the racist there?
Phillips: your Discord usrname was FashyHaircut, correct?
Discord DMs between Damigo & ‘Karl North’:
FashyHaircut: Username: @AntiWhiteReport
FashyHaircut: Password: StopTheHate 1488
FashyHaircut: That’s the twitter. I would like you to start building up a following with it…
Phillips: 1488 refers to the ’14 words’… a white supremacist slogan created by David Lane?
Damigo is shown a Discord post he sent in an Identity Evropa Discord chat, asked if he sent it, he says “yes”
His message says “The lines between politics and violence is blurring. Welcome to 4th generation warfare”
Phillips: Your path to radicalization happened while you were in prison, correct?
Phillips: In prison you read David Duke’s ‘My Awakening’, correct?
Phillips: You were aware David Duke was a former grand wizard of the KKK?
Phillips: in 2017 you felt that Black people were genetically and intellectually inferior to white people, correct?
Damigo: no, I think it’s more complicated than that… you have to talk about specific measurements…
Phillips: you believe that Black people have higher rates of crime…?
Kolenich: objection, he’s already referred to himself as a racist
Phillips: the difference you believe is a matter of genetics…?
Damigo: I believe that plays a major role, yes
Phillips; You also believe that Jewish people, Black people and their supporters are responsible for a mainstream genocidal campaign against white people?
Phillips: you founded Identity Evropa.. one of its goals was to create a white ethnostate…IE only admitted people of white non-Semitic heritage?
Phillips: so a Jewish person…Black people, could not join…?
Phillips: IE members often communicated with each other on Discord?
Phillips: IE members would get an invite to the IE Discord when they joined IE… you have to be an IE member to post in the IE Discord server?
Phillips: you created that server, you were the owner of that server?
Phillips:… you used the IE server quite often, particularly in the summer of 2017?
Phillips: You attended the April 2017 “Battle of Berkeley” as an Identity Evropa member?
Phillips: Members of the Rise Above Movement were also at Berkeley?
Damigo agrees that an IE member posting as “FEMA Camp Band Leader” on Discord led IE boxing trainings before Berkeley and that he attended at least one of those trainings
Phillips shows IE Discord chats involving Nathan Damigo in April 9, 2017:
Brodie – CA: “Another great training day. Honestly you guys motivate the hell out of me. Im looking forward to a practical application coming up. Hail victory!”
Damigo agrees that “hail victory” was invoking a nazi salute
Phillips: can you identify yourself in that photo?
Damigo: yes i’m the individual with the megaphone
the photo shows Nathan Damigo in the middle of a fight during the “Battle of Berkeley” alongside several members of the Rise Above Movement (RAM), including Ben Daley.
Phillips: you understand that the guys in the skull masks and grey shirts are members of the Rise Above Movement?
Damigo: .. I’m not sure…
Phillips: this is you along w some of the members of RAM ripping a banner from the hands of counter-protesters?
Kolenich: objection, he testified he did not know the RAM members Phillips shows another photo, the same scene from another shot – of Damigo fighting anti-racist protesters in Berkeley alongside RAM members. Phillips shows another photo of Damigo posing with the banner they had just taken from counter-protesters alongisde RAM members
Phillips; the individual on the right is Brodin Sutherland, an IE member, correct?
Phillips: and you & Mr. Sutherland were with these same individuals throughout the day in Berkeley?
Phillips: you attended the May 13, 2017 ‘Charlottesville 1.0’ event…? Other IE members were there… Eliott Kline?
Phillips: it was your idea to plan the event?
Phillips: you worked with other organizations to plan the event – Vanguard America, Tradionalist Worker Party…?
Damigo: … yes
Phillips shows Damigo & the jury a March 18 2017 chat he sent on Discord about ‘Charlottesville 1.0’:
“Should be big. We are working with other alt-right groups on this one”
Phillips: you got the idea for the torch march from a youtube video of a torch march in Germany?
Damigo claimed just now that he was also inspired by a torch rally “in France”, Phillips pulls up his deposition testimony where he only referenced Germany, not France.
Phillips: You knew that torches and fire invoke nazi Germany for Jews & their supporters, correct?
Damigo: I do not recall thinking about that
Phillips: did you know in 2017 that torches & fire invoke memories of the KKK for Black ppl & their supporters?
Damigo: I was aware that the Klan had in the past used torchlit rallies like many other organizations and movements…
Phillips: you gave a speech at Charlottesville 1.0 where you referred to Richard Spencer as “a man after your own heart”… do you recall that?
Damigo: No but I do recall the sentiment
Phillips plays a video of Damigo saying that exact quote
Judge Moon is reprimanding Phillips for taking “a lot of time” and says “it’s not helpful” for her to be questioning Damigo like this
Phillips: you met Jason Kessler in 2017… it was your understanding ‘Charlottesville 2.0’ was his idea… you had a conversation about his idea… he invited you to attend?
Phillips pulls up Damigo’s AT&T phone records showing Damigo’s number at the time & Kessler’s number.
Phillips points to a particular phone call record showing a call on May 24, 2017
Damigo says he recalls talking to Kessler “maybe two times” after that, Phillips is referring to his phone records which appear to show more calls than that – Damigo says he’s confused as to whether those calls shown on the records went through or not.
Judge Moon: I hope this is really important
Phillips: …Mr. Kessler wanted you to attend UTR… you decided to attend by July 10, 2017..?
Damigo: yeah that sounds about right
Phillips: Mr. Kline was a member & leader of Identity Evropa at the time.. he became leader of IE by sept 2017… you shared his views about Jewish & Black people…?
Damigo: something like that
Phillips: You were leader of IE while planning Unite The Right… you had a rule that IE members could not participate in activism that wasn’t approved by you?
Phillips: you could approve activism… Mr. Kline could approve activism… for IE members?
You understood that Kline was working w Kessler to organize Charlottesville 2.0.. that Mr. Kline was one of the primary organizers of the event?
Phillips: you relied on him to coordinate w other groups that were planning on participating in the event?
Damigo: i relied on him to give me info on what was going on
Phillips reads Damigo deposition bit where he says Kline reported to him about Unite The Right.
Phillips: IE was paying Mr. Kline a salary during the time period he was planning Charlottesville 2.0 w Mr. Kessler, correct?
Damigo: I don’t recall the dates, I know at some point that summer we were looking at starting to pay him
Phillips: do you recognize this as a July 2, 2017 text between you & Mr. Kline where you say “i’m going to move forward tomorrow to put you on the payroll?”
Phillips: at some point you nominated Mr. Kline to be the IE PR representative for Charlottesville 2.0, correct?
Damigo: i don’t recall, it’s been 4 years
Phillips: you exchanged text messages with Mr. Spencer that summer 2017.. you had Skype calls…telephone conversations…?
Damigo: I know we had calls quite often, I was trying to help him with a college tour…
Phillips: you discussed holding a weekly call w him moving up to Charlottesville 2.0, correct?
Damigo: I don’t recall
Phillips shows June 17 Spencer-Damigo Texts:
Spencer: let’s set up a weekly or fortnightly conference call on events.. Eli, Greg Ritter [Greg Conte, an IE member], you, me
Phillips: you also spoke w Mr. Spencer in July 2017 about getting Mr. Spencer to pay Mr. Kline, correct?
Damigo: I don’t recall…
Phillips shows texts between Damigo & Kline –
Damigo writes to Kline: “Ok, talked to Richard. He’s gonna have Greg Ritter talk to you tomorrow“
later, from Damigo to Kline: “says he’s down to hire you”
Phillips: you also reached out to Mr. Spencer about lodging plans for Charlottesville 2.0, correct?
Damigo: I don’t recall
Phillips shows August 4, 2017 texts between Damigo & Spencer
Damigo: Is the Fash Loft going to be parked next weekend? I’m trying to look at my options as far as lodging.
Spencer: objection, she’s misstating evidence, this is August 4…the Fash Loft is in Alexandria, Virginia…
Phillips: you would agree IE, your organization, helped w the organizing for Unite The Right?
Damigo: there were a lot of members involved in the organizing…
Philips: that included Mr. Kline… and Erica Alduino was also involved… she was an IE member?
Phillips: and a Discord user called ‘Ajax’, he was also an IE member?
Phillips: you gave IE members permission to attend UTR… you approved the use of shields… the use of helmets…gloves?
Damigo: yes I did
Judge Moon: we’ll take a 20 minute recess
Questioning of former Identity Evropa leader Nathan Damigo will continue after the break.
Judge Moon is back in court, sounds like the jury will be back in soon
Jessica Phillips asks Damigo about an April 7, 2017 post in an ‘Alt Right Events Project’ Discord where IE member Evan Thomas wrote: “My point from last night is that there is an even greater need to have the rally now… sure we don’t wanna see the statue removed but the truth is the rally was never about the Lee statue… it’s about developing our movement..it’s about increasing our ability to exploit circumstances in the real world and attract more activists for our case…”
In his deposition Damigo was asked if the above sentiment “was… IE’s goal in planning Charlottesville 1.0” Damigo had answered “yeah.”
Damigo is shown Oct 20, 2016 Discord posts he wrote as ‘FashyHaircut’:
“I need someone to make a fake anti-fa account and stand by for further instructions…Actually, as many people as possible need to create accounts. Create multiple if possible, make them as realistic as you can and then post the link to the account here so other ppl can make them look realistic. I need a small fake antifa army“
Damigo is asked about purposefully getting arrested after refusing to leave the park during Unite The Right along with a few other attendees.
Phillips asks Damigo about an afterparty after Unite The Right – admits he stated the event was “a huge success” after August 12 and that he stayed with Richard Spencer for a while after the rally, organized a private August 14 press conference w Richard Spence & Eliott Kline.
Phillips shows the court a post in the Identity Evropa Discord that “J Von Ott” wrote on August 12, 2017: “Today we won and took control of the narrative“
Phillips: …you owned and created the IE server and everyone who posted in the IE server was a member?
8/12/17 post in IE Discord from ‘Zachary O Ray”: “Excellent work out there tonight @ everyone. This is just the beginning. It is afraid, but the war goes on”
8/12/17 post in IE Discord from ‘Texan-TX’: “Honestly this is a huge victory”
8/12/17 post in IE Discord chat from ‘bspon001’: “Today is a net victory all of our guys who were there are great men”
Phillips: after August 12, 2017 you were praised by IE members, correct?
Damigo: yes, I believe some did
Phillips: do you see the 4th post down, by you, FashyHaircut on August 14, 2017:
Frog: “thanks for everything you did for our people this weekend. @ Fashy Haircut”
Fashy Haircut: “No problem man. Fuck the po-lice”
Phillips pulls up an August 14, 2017 text message exchange between Nathan Damigo and Patrick Casey:
Patrick Casey: “should we shut down the intel server…Should I issue an announcement reminding our members not to talk to the police?“
Nathan Damigo: Yes on both accounts
Phillips: at the conclusion of Charlottesville 2.0 you praised Mr. Kline for his work organizing the event…?
Damigo: I do not recall
Phillips pulls up Damigo’s deposition transcript where he said “yes” to this same exact Q
Phillips: approximately two weeks after Unite The Right..you turned Identity Evropa leadership over to Eliott Kline because you trusted him to run the organization?
Damigo: no, because i never fully handed it over to him
Damigo is shown his deposition transcript where he said “yes” to the Q
Jessica Phillips is done w direct examination of Nathan Damigo.
Richard Spencer is now cross-examining Nathan Damigo.
Spencer: you were the founder and leader of Identity Evropa… was I ever a member?
Spencer: did I ever seek to become a member?
Spencer asks Damigo about the April 2017 “Battle of Berkeley” – “did you see me” there?
Spencer: did you invite me or think that I was there?
Spencer: can you think of another event in Berkeley where you might have seen me?
Spencer moves to introduce an article as evidence, Plaintiffs object
Spencer asks Damigo about this other Berkeley “safe space” protest, Damigo says “I think I planned it and then invited you.. the purpose was to spark debate on college campuses… about..race…”
Spencer: was there a lot of vigorous debate at that event?
Damigo: there was…
Spencer: was anyone harmed physically at that event in 2016…?
Spencer asks Damigo about his comments praising him for being arrested in Hungary – “when you referred to…Richard is my kind of guy, he got arrested at Hungary… what were you referring to exactly?”
Damigo: that was a tongue in cheek reference to the fact that I have tragically myself been incarcerated… you were going to Hungary to have a speech…
Plaintiffs: objection, he’s testifying about what Mr. Spencer did
udge Moon: Hungary has nothing to do so far as we know with this case..
Spencer: were you aware that I was arrested for attempting to hold a conference and not for any crime that would have been a crime in the US?
Spencer: I was not a member of IE, who was allowed to be involved in the IE Discord?
Damigo: only members
Spencer: did I ever jump in there to your recollection?
Spencer: did you have a phone number at the time [number]?
Spencer is referring to the phone history records between himself & Damigo Spencer pulls up his text message records w Damigo
Plaintiffs object because they don’t see phone numbers on the document, Spencer says he gave them the data before but has since “reproduced it in a more readable form”
Spencer shows some of the text message history w him & Damigo
August 4, 2017:
Damigo: is the Fash Loft going to be parked next weekend? I’m trying to look at my options as far as lodging
Spencer: We could fit you in
Damigo: Awesome. Thanks.
Spencer: when you say Fash Loft what are you referring to?
Damigo: the DC area apartment you had
Spencer: In Alexandria?
Spencer: is saying Fashloft similar to your moniker FashyHaircut?
Damigo: fash is short for fascist…it’s tongue-in-cheek
Spencer: during Unite The Right did we share lodging?
Other texts Spencer left up on the screen for a bit showed Nathan Damigo asking if David Duke should speak at Unite The Right – “he’s going to the park with us” (both were seen filing in with Traditionalist Worker Party members in video shown earlier at trial)
June 12, 2017 texts between Damigo & Spencer
Damigo: if there is a good time to talk tonight, let me know
Spencer: yea. Let’s set up a weekly or fortnightly conference call…
June 17, 2017 Spencer-Damigo tests
Spencer: i’m totally at war with the “Alt Light” at this point
Damigo: Still on for next weekend?
Damigo: Jack Posibiec is a f*gg*t
Damigo in his next text shares a Tweet from Spencer calling for Laura Loomer to be jailed after disrupting a Shakepeare play
Damigo text to Spencer cont’d: I think this is a bad move, since IE is on the verge of doing this stuff. Unless your point is to mock them, but this tweet is somewhat unclear on that aspect
Spencer: how would you characterize our dispute?
Damigo: A disagreement…
Judge Moon: let’s move on to August 12…
Spencer: do you remember seeing me at the torch light march?
Damigo: I wasn’t there
Spencer: on August 12 were we staying in the same house, were we communicating?
Spencer: did you see me on August 12?
Damigo: I did see you, yeah
Spencer: everyone had to deal with getting into the park on August 12, how did you do that?
Damigo: there were supposed to be vans to drop people off… for whatever reason I was told by Kline that law enforcement were changing up everything…
Plaintiffs: objection, hearsay
Judge Moon: sustained
Spencer asks about the vans, Damigo says he doesn’t know who rented them but that IE put up about $600 to help rent the vans
Spencer: did I put up any money for these vans… did I ride in these vans?
Damigo: I don’t know
Spencer: how did you enter the park?
Damigo: myself and others were dropped off two blocks from the park…which I thought was strange because we were supposed to get dropped off at the park… as we got closer to the park there was counter-protesters surrounding us on all sides… I just kind of walked… into the park
Spencer: were you scheduled to speak at the Unite The Right rally?
Damigo: not originally but I had been given a slot
Spencer: who gave you that slot?
Damigo: Jason Kessler
Spencer: did you get to give that speech?
Spencer: what happened?
Damigo: we were waiting for sound equipment to come in…and then all of a sudden they came and declared a state of emergency and kicked us out…
Spencer: were we in communication directly after we were expelled…?
Damigo: no, I was arrested & detained for about an hour and then let go with a ticket… someone escorted me to my vehicle… went to Taco Bell…
Spencer: so up until about 1:30 you were incommunicado?
Spencer: do you remember seeing me after the event?
Spencer: thank you, no further questions
Up next to cross-examine Nathan Damigo is David Campbell, James Fields’ lawyer. Campbell asks if Damigo had ever met or seen Fields before, Damigo says no.
Bryan Jones, lawyer for Michael Hill, Michael Tubbs & League of the South, is cross-examining Nathan Damigo
Jones: there was discussion of Discord of fake antifa accounts.. during the course of trial have plaintiffs shown you any evidence that fake antifa accounts played any role at the Unite The Right rally?
Damigo: I haven’t seen any
Jones: Plaintiff Wispelwey described antifa or anti-fascist counter-protesters … would you agree or disagree with his characterization of antifa?
Judge Moon: sustained – he can’t say someone else’s beliefs
Jones: you attended the rally on august 12…what did you see counter-protesters doing?
Damigo: I noticed a lot of very identifiable symbols… organizations that would typically be considered antifa…
Plaintiffs: objection, foundation
Judge Moon: what are the characteristics of antifa that people would be looking for?
Jones: when you see someone at a rally that you think is antifa, what is the basis for that?
Damigo: antifa is a larger movement but there are also actual antifa organizations, many are anarchists and communists but some are also liberal democrats or socialists…
Plaintiffs: objection, no foundation for how Damigo would know these things
Judge Moon: what would you see that you would think means people are antifa?
Damigo: red and black flags, three downward facing arrows
Plaintiffs: he has not established how he knows this, he’s just testifying about this
Judge Moon: can you say how you know this?
Damigo: I have reviewed a large number of websites…
Plaintiffs: objection, hearsay
Judge Moon: if he can testify why he thought they were antifa, you can consider it not for the truth but for what he thought in his mind…
Jones asks Damigo to define a battalion: “typically about 4 platoons”
Jones: how many men are in a battalion?
Damigo: about 120
Jones: is it important for a battalion to be organized?
Jones: thank you that’s all the Qs I have
Chris Cantwell is cross-examining Nathan Damigo
Cantwell: have we ever met…or exchanged a text.. or secret codes?
Cantwell asks Damigo about the rented vans IE helped pay for
Cantwell: you thought the vans were gonna get you to the park.. you found out about a change of plans the morning of the event.. from Eli Kline?
Cantwell: who had previously told you you would get right up to the park?
Cantwell: what was your understanding of what had changed?
Damigo: at a certain point I saw Kline and he seemed very exasperated, and he said…
Plaintiffs: objection, hearsay
Cantwell: your original plan was, the police were on board to get you safely in the park?
Damigo: that was my understanding
Cantwell: and your understanding was the police changed the plan.. and you got that understanding from Eli Kline?
Cantwell: did you attend the leadership meeting on August 11?
Cantwell: did you send anyone to that meeting to report back to you?
Cantwell is asking Damigo about the permit and if limitations on areas of the park being included in the permit were communicated to him, he says no
Cantwell: did I have anything to do with Identity Evropa?
Damigo: absolutely not
Cantwell: did you see me at the Battle of Berkeley?
Cantwell: was I at any of these boxing trainings?
Cantwell: you recall a sign that the plaintiffs showed you that you were holding at Berkeley, it said “by any means necessary”, was that an Identity Evropa sign?
Damigo: there’s an organization called BAMN – By Any Means Necessary – there’s a woman named…
Plaintiffs: objection, he’s not answering the question
Cantwell: what does that phrase mean?
Damigo: to achieve the goal by whatever means
Cantwell: including violence?
Damigo: …I had rocks and… explosives thrown at me that day
Cantwell: the Unite The Right rally, did you have any say who the speakers were…
Damigo: I might have been asked if I was ok with David Duke speaking.. I said I didn’t have a problem with it
Cantwell: were you privy to any discussions about my attendance?
Cantwell: you testified that you obtained shields & other protective equipment for the Unite The Right rally?
Damigo: we had a list of equipment that was acceptable for people to bring… that included shields, helmets and gloves
Cantwell is asking Damigo to talk about previous events and anti-fascists they have both targeted & harassed before
Cantwell: did you fear for your safety when you arrived in Charlottesville?
Judge Moon: you’re leading him..
Cantwell: why did you authorize safety gear for your members?
Damigo: I had been assaulted…& seen antifa burn down college campuses
Plaintiffs: objection, foundation
Cantwell: suffice it to say you had seen some trouble that you thought might be revisited?
Damigo: absolutely, yes
Cantwell: is race your only difference with antifa?
Plaintiffs: objection, foundation
Cantwell: On August 12, 2017 were you familiar with a political movement known as antifa?
Cantwell: do you have disagreements with that movement other than race?
Cantwell: is race your only concern with regard to immigration?
Cantwell: would you be ok with an all-white drag queen story hour?
Cantwell: have you ever been a Radical Agenda premium member?
Cantwell: you weren’t in the Charlottesville 2.0 discord server?
Cantwell: you weren’t in the Radical Agenda discord server?
Cantwell: no further Qs thank you
Edward Rebrook, lawyer for Jeff Schoep & National Socialist Movement, declines to cross Damigo
Richard Spencer says he forgot to ask Damigo some Qs, Judge Moon allows it over plaintiffs’ complaints
Spencer: you said Eli Kline joined Identity Evropa in 2016… to your knowledge did I know him at that point?
Judge Moon: he doesn’t know who you know…
Spencer: was Kline ever on the IE payroll?
Damigo: there was a short time where he was
The plaintiffs are about to play a recorded deposition video of neo-nazi and former marine Michael Chesny (aka ‘Tyrone’ on Discord, transportation coordinator for Unite The Right).
Michael Chesny Deposition Video
The Michael Chesny deposition video is playing now – Attorney Michael Bloch asks Chesny to confirm one of his Discord handles was ‘Tyrone’ – Chesny says he can’t recall “any” of his Discord usernames.
Chesny is shown posts by ‘Tyrone’ where he wrote “one upon a time I just hated commies… then I learned commies are bc of Jews..it’s a process”
‘Tyrone’ asked Eli Mosley to make him a moderator on the Charlottesville 2.0 Discord. Chesny is shown Discord direct messages where he messages Jason Kessler “what are your ideas for the shuttles?…It’s easier to explain on voice…”
Tyrone had a voice chat w Kessler
Bloch: do you know who Emily Gorcenski is?
Chesny: an online activist
Blcoh: do you agree that Tyrone is discussing w Jason Kessler on the discord server discussing brawling w ppl counter-protesting Unite The Right… Tyrone says that process of brawling would be ‘fun’…
August 7 Discord posts in the leadership discussion channel on Charlottesville 2.0 channel between Jason Kessler & ‘Tyrone’ talk about switching to a ‘sekrit” channel
August 7, 2017: “1488 attendees confirmed @ MadDimension” (MadDimension = Kessler)
Q: Would you agree you that communicated with Mr. Kessler multiple times in 2017 regarding Unite The Right?…
Chesny: I probably did… realistically it looks like we did
Q: you understood he was one of the organizers.. you agreed to help him organize various aspects..?
Chesny: probably.. I don’t recall
Q: you agree … Heimbach is another organizer…
August 6 chat from League of the South member Ike Baker in leadership discussion channel of Charlottesville 2.0 server: “@Tyrone I’m [Point of Contact] for the League per Dr. Hill…”
Chesny/Tryone is asked about the “questions for coordinators” Discord channel for Cville 2.0 which started in June 2017.
Chesny is asked about posts where he wrote as ‘Tyrone’ about “A 3 foot axe handle with a solid grip, like you would use for a baseball bat will be ideal..anything longer is to long to effectively bludgeon someone with...”
Chesny is shown more posts where he wrote as ‘Tyrone’ about various ways to use flagpoles as weapons.
Chesny is shown chats where he as ‘Tyrone’ and ‘AltCelt’ (Traditionalist Worker Party member Shane Duffy) discussed running cars into counter-protesters at Unite The Right.
Chesny is red in the face and mostly looking downwards in the video recording of his deposition. He was exposed as ‘Tyrone’ most of a year after Unite The Right at which point he was kicked out of the US Marine Corps.
Bloch: In July 2017 you were paying attention to the laws regarding running into protesters with cars because that was a tactic you were considering…right?
Chesny: I seem to recall that there was a lot of discussions about that being had…
Bloch: can just just verify for me, Tyrone’s post about running into protesters occurred on July 17, 2017 and ALSO on July 17, 2017 there is a post by Tyrone in the “Virginia laws” channel about running over counter-protesters?
Chesny (referring to ‘Tyrone in the third person): he asked so he could stay within the law…
Chesny is shown a post he sent on August 12 in the #general_1 channel in the Charlottesville 2.0 Discord that disparaged Heather Heyer shortly after her death.
Shown this message where Unite The Right attendees discuss the deaths in Charlottesville shortly after they happen, Chesny refers to himself in third person, saying “Tyrone does not seem to” have been upset by the deaths.In a message in the shuttle channel in the Charlottesville 2.0 server, Chesny/Tyrone wrote “All opposition to the Shuttles is to be dealt with with extreme prejudice.”
Judge Moon cuts in to end court for the day- the deposition video of Michael Chesny aka ‘Tyrone’ will continue tomorrow. (Chesny is confirmed to be ‘Tyrone’ but insists on referring to ‘Tyrone’ in the 3rd person.) Roberta Kaplan is talking about a Daily Stormer article she wants to show Professor Peter Simi during his expert testimony tomorrow – defense says no issue w that if it isn’t shown to the jury.
Judge Moon is off the bench now, court’s over for today.
[This is one of our first reports from August 2017 where we released screenshots showing that Discord posts by ‘Tyrone’ and others had discussed car attacks on counter-protesters ahead of Unite The Right.]
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