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.
Additional Resources via Integrity First For America: Trial & Deposition Video Transcripts • Searchable Database of Plaintiff’s Trial Exhibits
Unicorn Riot’s rush transcript from the day’s proceedings is below. While the official court transcript is more comprehensive, UR’s live notes sometimes contain visual descriptions of elements not noted by the court reporter, including the visual appearance of exhibits shown at trial, movements of parties in the courtroom, and happenings in and around the courthouse.
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.
Rush transcripts: 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
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 14 – Nov. 11, 2021 (Collected from this tweet thread)
[Content advisory – racism, violence, trauma]
Thursday’s court session – during the federal holiday of Veteran’s Day – was initially scheduled as a day off, but everyone was called in as Judge Moon hopes to have the trial completed before Thanksgiving.
It opened with the tail end of video testimony earlier recorded from Michael Joseph Chesny, who avoided directly admitting he was “Tyrone” on leaked Discord chats, or saying he didn’t recall. Plaintiffs’ attorneys displayed many social media posts from James Alex Fields leading up to his lethal car attack on the crowd.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys showed a rarely seen, highly disturbing Virginia State Police helicopter video of the attack to the jury – it also shows Fields belting backwards at high speeds and then fleeing from the scene. Jailhouse phone calls where Fields coldly rants about ‘communists’ to his mother also got played, along with photos showing his framed bedside Hitler portrait.
Dr. Peter Simi, an associate professor at Chapman University, testified about his sociological analysis of the white power movement. Simi was contracted by the plaintiffs for a research project completed with Kathleen Blee, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Simi and Blee’s project boiled down 1000 hours of reviewing hundreds of thousands of Discord chats and reams of other documents from this lawsuit, linking it to wider patterns and structures of the white supremacist movement. Pro se defendants Richard Spencer and Chris Cantwell tried to get at proving Simi’s expert opinions were biased, while defense attorney Joshua Smith, shouting over a speakerphone connection, grasped for references to other countries, falsely claiming Singapore was an ethnostate and attempting to imply Simi showed “anti-white bias.” (Jump to Simi testimony)
With accusations today from defendant Cantwell about DailyStormer being operated by “a Jew” (weev – Andrew Alan Escher Auernheimer) it’s another indicator of the mutual animosity among defendants – who keep floating various conspiracy theories against each other during their defense attempts.
April Muniz, one of the plaintiffs pursing this case, said that she is pursuing some semblance of justice in the process. She recounted the incredible physical and emotional shock of witnessing the attack from feet away, the crunching of metal on flesh, which led to long-running bouts of insomnia and loss of confidence in her medical research skills, along with loss of employment. (Jump to Muniz testimony)
A group of neonazis called the Bowl Patrol that venerate Dylann Roof and his massacre perpetrated in 2015 at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Charleson, South Carolina, were also discussed today. Check out Unicorn Riot’s 2019 Bowl Patrol investigation here as well as the Bowl Patrol Discord Leaks.
Good morning all – we are starting court for day 14 of the ‘Unite the Right’ trial in Charlottesville Virginia. Leading white supremacists face a major lawsuit.
Before the jury comes in in moments, white supremacist defendant Chris Cantwell is trying to get some evidence excluded from consideration.
The judge is now warning the public (and press) that no audio or video may be recorded or rebroadcast – (tweets are implicitly authorized) – updates to be batched
Michael Chesny Deposition Video, Continued
Michael Chesney aka ‘Tyrone’ on Discord chats has a video deposition being replayed to the court – picking up where it left off yesterday. Plaintiff attorney Michael Bloch is questioning
Tyrone quoted in discord: if you find yourself confronted by Antifa remember you ‘felt your life threatened’ to justify anything you did to the cops
Chesny denies to Bloch making the Discord posts as “Tyrone” in an oblique way by claiming to not recall any of it, as if someone else was spoofing his identity he implies. in the video recorded deposition.
Bloch: asks Michael Joseph Chesny if that is your email address, and that Tyrone posted pictures of Chesny’s family. “somebody had access to those yes”
Bloch: and the pregnancy announcement of wife? and military base stationed?
Chesny: Yes / Yes
That person knew a lot about my public record.
Bloch: and name of your commanding officer?
Also public record.
Bloch: Posted a type of gun, a mosin-nagant that you owned
Chesny: I believe so.
Bloch: They posted to contact the marines on your behalf? true
Chesny: sounds like it.
Bloch: they said that the banner that was stitched together, correct?
Bloch: they posted that they were present at Charlottesville with their kids?
Bloch: will you say under oath it was you posting on Discord?
Chesny: claims to not recall making any of those posts.
Moon: During Nathan Damigo’s testimony issues about antifa foundational knowledge came up. I didn’t give a complete statement of Reverend Wispelwey testimony – without drawing reference to what Moon said. It was improper of me to make statements on anyone’s testimony. Disregard anything I say to the lawyers in this case about Rev. Wispelwey testimony in the trial.
James Alex Fields evidence is now being addressed.
Attorney Mills representing plaintiffs. Exhibits about James Fields. Docs, photographs, audio and video recordings. Admissions and stipulations about James Alex Fields. First PX03. A photo of bedroom in Ohio with a flag with a German cross, another photo close up framed Hitler photo, Mein Kampf and a beer stein.
Another post from Fields twitter account @TheNewGiantDad “You are on a great mission #tuesdaymotivation” with a picture of marching German Nazis with flags. From Apr. 4 2017.
disturbing memes, heil hitler and similar material from inside James Alex Fields Twitter and instagram accounts, DMs and similar from Spring-Summer 2017 are submitted to evidence (content advisory)
Threatening tweets from spring 2017. “to be honest the time for war began years ago #hitlerwasright”. “they want you dead, white man & they’re celebrating every time one of us dies off. stick together fight back” , more racist posts are viewed. “violence is the only solution. we have no other options, voting will solve nothing.” “defense of self requires you to kill those who would cause your death. violence is your only hope for those who would kill us for a people.” in may 2017 “jaxex_jamicus” shows a meme of a car hitting a huge crowd of protesters (not twitter). Another tweet claims that the ‘average black’ has the IQ ‘range of a retard.’
Instagram account thebigboss1337 has the same meme of hitting people with cars, also includes #gamergate, #kek #pol #4chan hashtags on it.
May 31 2017 Fields Instagram account has a lot of racist remarks posted. ALso includes antisemitic direct messages from Instagram. “you k**** will know the wrath of the west once more.” “hitler did nothing wrong” June 18 2017. Another DM contains several pictures of Zyklon B gas from July used to kill Jews. And a meme about that.
James Alex Fields fervently posted tweets and memes to and about Richard Spencer in Spring-Summer 2017
July 9 2017 poster shared by Fields July 2017 promotes many of the defendants in the case. Stipulated including following Richard Spencer, Augustus Sol Invictus, David Duke on twitter. More Fields tweets that tag and retweet codefendant richard spencer. “moon man” with nazi flag and a gun meme. Another one about ‘stop white genocide’. “i thoroughly enjoy listening to richard spencer” and “it’s time to buy rifles”. The attack of RAM in California beach was posted by Fields. March 19 2017 a REEE meme about ‘kek troops’. “based stick man is a poster example of what is to come” tagging spencer. “the spirit of pim fortuyn lives on”.
(these are being cropped we can’t easily see the whole text of the tweets. but he spent months tagging Richard Spencer)
More social media messages and stipulations and admissions about James Alex Fields. He also sent a picture of Adolf Hitler to his mom during / right before UTR
More James Alex Fields tweets (@thenewgiantdad) from 2017 tagging david duke with racist references like “dindus”. “merkel shoud be charged with high treason & executed”. More tweets to tag Baked Alaska (Tim Gionet) including the ’14 words’ and disparaging American Indians.
Another tweet april 29 2017 tags nathan damigo. defending the innocent and private property is a “good idea, both require force” . On April 16 2017 he reposts the Nathan Damigo attack on a woman in Berkeley video. Retweets @occdissent (handle of league of the south member brad griffin) a meme to take down a Black memorial. Another one July 20 2017, another one tags brad griffin with antisemitic content. Another retweet from griffin about ostensible black crime. April 29 2017 he retweets another one from griffin.
Mills is going over stipulations of Fields that he knew at Charlottesville the white polo and khaki was the uniform and that he wore it. Admitting that he communicated with Vanguard America members. Also admitted that he held a shield with a Vanguard America symbol. Also admitted that he chanted racist antisemitic messages. Admitted he received Christmas cards from Vanguard America in prison. He was was also in McIntyre Park after the state of emergency declared. Admitted he had used term communist to refer to counter protesters
More messages sent including texts tweets and images by Fields in the hours before his fatal vehicle attack in Charlottesville
More messages sent directly by Fields include torch march pictures to his mom. “Oh my sounds dangerous” his mom texted. “Our guys had a couple hundred while antifa only put out 20” and saying about 1000 white males and some teens would show up for Saturday.
5:33AM Aug 12 2017 Fields tagged Spencer on twitter with an antisemitic message. 4 minutes later he retweets a post from David Duke about the torch rally. “our people on the march/ will you be here at #unitetheright tomorrow”
Another picture of Fields with the shield is shown – this pic is fairly well known. Fields makes a post at 12:44pm less than an hour before the car attack he tags Spencer, Griffin and Duke with a ‘shut it down’ reference. (looks like a picture of a counterprotester on a radio)
Moon asks about what you mean by ‘tagged’ to Mills.
Mills: when you tag someone on twitter that goes straight to someones account. Retweeting is repeating what someone said.
The plaintiffs then play a video of the Fields car attack.
A video is being played from the police helicopter showing the car attack at Unite the Right from above. At a great distance the vehicle is shown plowing in then reversing at high speed. From Virginia State Police (no audio) then the camera follows the car attempting to get away
Plaintiff attorney Mills shows the cover sheet of the prosecution with that initial charging sheet for the vehicle attack available, and the other pages, and the guilty plea, after going over the messages James Alex Fields posted via Twitter, Instagram and SMS / MMS by phone
The charging sheet and statement of offence from James Alex Fields federal prosecution are reviewed, and description of the event and car attack read off by plaintiff attorney Mills.
“Statement of offense” from the original federal filings discuss his use of social media accounts to make racist posts, expressing support for Adolf Hitler, the Holocaust, and espoused violence. He also expressed these views directly around people known to him. The document recounts facts about the event and Dodge Challenger vehicle arriving early on August 12 2017.
Defendant Cantwell jumps in that there was a misstatement about ‘leaders’ vs ‘speakers’. “was scheduled to feature a lineup of well known white supremacist leaders” was the correct phrase.
In the doc, read back, that Fields and others chanted other racist and antisemitic views at the event, followed by a description of the car attack.
This is the document ‘statement of offense’ being read off right now in court by the plaintiffs attorneys about James Alex Fields lethal car attack: documentcloud.org/documents/5782…
Disturbing recorded phone calls between James Alex Fields and his mother from jail re Heather Heyer’s mother. Fields in quote marks.
Exhibits 204A 204B these are audio recordings between James Alex Fields and his mother. “the citizens are sheep. people aren’t smart enough to think for themselves”. Need to have a (?) party that has sole power. you can’t get anything done and need progress. Mom: who in the heck will lead the united states. Fields: Conservatives, Richard Spencer would be a good idea.
Another call refers to something about a package for Heather Heyer. Saying her mom is giving speeches “slandering” him, complain about “commies”. “Shes one of those anti white communists” She lost her daughter. “It doesn’t matter… she is an anti white communist. she is the enemy”
Mom: no one is an enemy
Fields: “She is the enemy mother”
(Fields statements in quote marks)
Dr. Peter Simi – Expert Witness for Plaintiffs
Professor Pete Simi, Chapman University based in Orange County, is going to go over white supremacist culture. An associate professor of sociology in 5th year. Was at Univ. of Nebraska for 13 years (bio: chapman.edu/our-faculty/pe… )
Study of human behavior and society…
Since 1996 Prof. Simi has been working on researching hate crimes, white supremacist culture and related issues in his academic career. Has published over 50 peer reviewed academic articles and “America Swastika” book. Overview of ethnographic field work among white supremacists by Prof Simi, who never met with these specific defendants
Professor Simi has been asked to assess issues relating to hate crimes, white supremacists, criminal cases. He has not always concluded that people are related to white supremacist movements. He has been asked to work on some cases by prosecution as expert witness. He was qualified in a murder case to testify as an expert, to assess some statements prior to the crimes as if they were white supremacist beliefs. That defendant was found guilty on all charges.
He has done well over 100 trainings to US Congress, FBI at Quantico, Dept of Homeland Security and other places. His book is about the culture of the white supremacist movement and the central place of violence in it. He did ethnographic field work. One of the most effective ways to learn about groups is go to them directly. Go interact and do interviews with them and immerse as much as possible in their perspectives.
Going over the American Swastika book. Overview with doing field work. 222 interviews with 128 active and former white supremacists. Mainly in SW and NW USA. Gained access to individuals up until 2021. Was able to stay in their houses / couches. Attended cross burnings, neonazi music shows, 45 house visits in AZ CA NV UT. Met with Identity Evropa, National Socialist Movement and Vanguard America (overview of ethnographic fieldwork and research)
the common culture of the white supremacist movement, not one leader, binds it together, including using violence to achieve the goals of a white homeland or ethnostate – per Professor Simi
Offering Simi as an expert in the white supremacist movement to testify. Slides cropped – definition of white supremacist movement . Start with the word movement. trying to transform society by orgs and individuals not the random individual racist ranting at the holidays. 3 core elements; shared culture, common strategies and common goals to create a white homeland (ethnostate) in the United States.
Simi explains the analysis
Prof. Simi: an ethnostate would be carved out as exclusively the domain of white people. in a formalized subordinate way maybe non white people would be allowed to reside there in some versions of it.
core characteristics of white supremacist movement?
Racist ideologies, glorification and use of violence. separation of front stage and back stage / use of optics. strategies of plausible deniability.
the violence is part of the defining nature of it (paraphrasing)
sociologists use front/back stage to convey how the scene works. plausible deniability preemptively shields blame or criminal conduct, wrongdoing is part of the overall movement strategy. These characteristics exist in the wider field, Simi didn’t come up with these.
Simi worked with Kathleen Blee, University of Pittsburgh. We reviewed a large volume of diff types of materials, video text social media and so on.
Profs Simi and Blee reviewed 575K posts on Discord, 42K on Charlotteville2.0 server. also deposition transcripts and trial testimony
Defendants relied on core characteristics of white supremacist movement when they organized Unite the Right – Simi
files.integrityfirstforamerica.org/14228/16141090… The Simi / Blee expert report is available here from plaintiffs attorneys
Going over Discord analysis – then showed a huge list of reviewed channels and servers that Simi & Blee analyzed
Re the Discord posts. developed for online gaming. Following white supremacist tech use since 1996 he had been keeping track of. Unite the Right was organized on discord. Discord was used because it was encrypted, with a degree of secrecy and privacy. As originally developed for online gamers, they saw a wide recruitment potential in trying to find different subcultures for recruiting new adherents.
He is going to translate exhibit 1166 a screencap from Discord to parse. in Charlottesville2.0 sever Leadership_discussion thread. Explaining servers, channels and users. A column of words are the channels.
Kaplan: There are geographic channels, what are these for?
Simi: effort to have as much geographic distribution as possible, maximize turnout thru these channels.
Kaplan: some correspond to defendant entities.
Simi: traditionalist worker party (channel). specific to these organizations
Kaplan: they had their own server and channels within the charlottesville2.0 server? (one of the orgs)
More on discord server organizing and how racist ingroup/outgroups work from Prof. Simi
Going over messages and handles using Tyrone(###) as an example.
Simi: Tyrone is Michael Chesney, Thomas Rousseau, Patrick Casey handles and so on from Discord
Simi: Some of the channels can be invite-only they would need an invitation. Our understanding is that moderators and administrators can give invites.
Kaplan: are you familiar with the moderators and administrators?
Simi: Damigo, Kline, Kessler, Ray (azzmador) and some others
Slide on common characteristic of racist ideologies.
Cantwell object claiming leading of expert witness.
Moon says it is proper to bring things along a preliminary question to move it faster.
Kaplan: can you lecture more briefly than to students.
Simi: Divided into ‘in’ and ‘out’ groups. the perspective is that race is the central organizing, rigid way of defining race.
Professor Simi goes over how racist memes are used to promote and reinforce white supremacist culture, with a graphic example from a “bowl patrol” discord server. Then Judge Moon calls 20 minute break.
Simi: Blacks and Jews are viewed as part of this outgroup. Blacks viewed as inferior. Antisemitism, anti-immigrant, anti Muslim, Homophobia. Whites are valorized as inventing things for society. The list of outgroups goes on and on.
Kaplan: At exhibit 426 admitted, a racist meme (N**** Tote) from inside discord Bowl Patrol server.
Simi: racial slur. like a 1950s ad with a black person in a kind of vice or abusive metal handle to control a black body. A kind of torture device with a control handle. ‘essentially in bondage’. what appears to be a family is possessing, holding, enslavement. white supremacist captured in this image. in last 25 years this kind of graphic grotesque dehumanization of the outgroup is prominent in the white supremacist movement.
Kaplan: serious or joke?
Simi: while they may laugh or joke about it its meant to simultaneiously be taken seriously. it is natural to view blacks as inferior and get this kind of treatment, a sincere expression of the ideology in their culture.
Kaplan: this was posted by azzmador in the server bowl patrol, in (bowl nut gallery?)
Simi: in 2015 Dylann Roof gunned down 9 individuals. Roof did that based on what he said and wrote in manifesto as way to start the race war. Roof had a bowl haircut and in effort to celebrate / valorize that day caught on (showing bowl patrol channels from Discord)
Kaplan: if white nationalists chanting roof roof roof, is that a reference to Dylan Roof?
Simi: Believe so.
Judge Moon calls morning recess for 20 minutes
See our 2019 report: ‘Bowl Patrol’: Dylann Roof Fans Hope to Inspire More Mass Shootings
The Clark brothers were linked to Bowl Patrol organizer Mark Daniel Reardon aka ‘Illegal Aryan’ who is also linked to Daily Stormer. Full story (2018).
Our Discord Leaks server has a large amount of Bowl Patrol white supremacist material (strong content advisory) similar to that referenced this morning
Coming back to court: Simi: Violence is part of how white supremacists view the world. Very central. To how they think actions need to be tactics. “glorification and use of violence” slide is up. discussion of methods of violence, language about war, genocide, celebrate Hitler
more about white supremacist messaging and James Alex Fields memes, the ’14 words’
Simi: really a reverence to Hitler, a celebration of Hitler and Nazi Germany including the execution of Holocaust.
Kaplan: This use and glorification of violence. does this go back in the US movement history?
Simi: Trace back to original founding of KKK and similar groups were very much committed to violence to accomplish their strategies as the movement grew and broadened into 20th century and that’s continued into 21st century.
Kaplan: briefly certain words like white genocide theory
Simi: the theory the white race is at the edge of extinction due to Jewish conspiracy if trends continue.
Kaplan: replacement theory?
Simi: can often be used interchangeably.
Kaplan: how does it relate to violence?
Simi: Violence is necessary to keep that from happening in their view
Kaplan exhibit 600 a ‘stop white genocide’ meme that Fields posted on Twitter March 19 2017 (@therealgiantdad)
Simi: A tweet at Richard Spencer. A visual image of a white family with child “love your race / stop white genocide” meme text. the subtext is that this requires the use of violence.
Kaplan: is there double text?
Simi: ‘love your race’ maybe that might seem innocuous, non threating family. then this part about stop white genocide, they understand that this is a call to violence.
Simi: re 14 words.. One of the most prominent slogans. Explains David Lane came up with it, died in prison after convicted of terrorist activity, assassinated Alan Berg, robbed armored trucks. Part of “The Order”.
A defense attorney interjects problem about microphone.
Day of the Rope, Cantwell racist rhetoric, Turner Diaries and other imagery
Simi: 14 words is ubiquitous in the white supremacist movement. The subtext is that violence is necessary.
Kaplan: what is the day of the rope?
Simi: William Pierce Turner Diaries book, a white supremacist fantasy novel of a white revolution. At some point they gain a stronghold in California they conduct a mass execution of ‘race traitors’ who betrayed the cause. Politicians, journalists, women in interracial relationships, hung from lampposts. Its inspirational role including McVeigh and OKC bombing, its widely used and a frame of reference of sorts.
Kaplan: how do they believe in achieving the white ethnostate
Simi: they believe violence is necessary to achieve the white ethnostate, it will require a major battle referred to as the race war.
Ex 3628, another Fields tweet, saying violence is the only solution. voting will solve nothing, police and courts won’t convict.
Simi: a clear call to violence, the only way to deal with the situation is thru the use of violence, a violent revolution of sorts. Voting, courts ineffective which is why violence is necessary.
Kaplan: Race war?
Simi: Idea a major great battle between the races will occur, in the future, and from that a white ethnostate would come. Some say we are in early stages. Some see skirmishes or small battles. the full thing is somewhat ambiguous as to when
Kaplan: Pres. Lyndon Johnson had a war on poverty…
Simi: This is meant literally not figuratively. Its celebrated and early battles celebrated.
Kaplan: a clip from Cantwell Podcast Aug 2017.
Cantwell in clip: gas the k****, really good reason to genocide ppl.
Simi: reference to genocide, gassing, antisemitism, mentioning in communism. themes in short clip.
Kaplan: Cantwell laughing. juxstaposed with radical language. commonly seen in movement?
Simi: seen similar instances, violent references coupled with humor. expression advocating violence coupled with humor.
Kaplan: link between Jew and communists in movement?
Simi: they largely believe Jewish people are responsible for creating communism
Kaplan: ex 1060 a meme with some nazi with a flag with an SS.
more Discord messages calling for violence – available here in Unicorn Riot Discord Leaks
Simi: Juxtaposition of images of mass casualty violence with more routine weapons discussion. Inside Charlottesville 2.0 flags banners channel.
Kaplan: you see this common juxtaposition in movement?
Simi: it’s a culture of violence. not that different than organized crime, mafia, street gang, Al Qaeda. This needs to normalize violence. from a cultural standpoint to normalize violence and make it seem normal and mundane.
Kaplan: ex 1144, a screenshot of Charlottesville 2.0 meme (looks like from Children of Men or similar).
Simi: Message below that , this will be us, followed by from Tyrone, I know that driving over protesters in NC is not an offense. Crossover from VA Law channel also on the server. Back and forth cross communicating between channels about running over people.
This bleeds into next page, another Tyrone message, multi lane protester digestor (farm equipment display).
more on use of racist and violent memes in Discord servers re Charlottesville:
Kaplan: juxtaposition about shuttles and vans, running people over
Simi: normalization of violence to make it easier for members of that culture to commit violence
Kaplan: why is hitler so important?
Simi: a real reverence to what he accomplished. he was a great ‘statesman’ for his people. the kind of leader to try to emulate. a role model of sorts.
Kaplan: did you see this reverence in the discord servers?
Simi: yes we did
Kaplan: Matthew Parrott said he admired Hitler but for economic and social policies. In your review of materials more generally was it just the policies?
Simi: not familiar w that
Kaplan: anything like that in these materials?
Kaplan: ex 409. ‘Get in losers we’re invading charlottesville’ meme from Discord.
Simi: shows this tendency in the white supremacist movement want to associate to Hitler and Nazi Germany
Simi: Server Latveria, azzmador posted it. (‘made the most dankest of memes’)
Backstage/front stage dichotomy in white supremacist movement – Prof Simi
Simi: Front and back stage, as the front public setting. Larger audiences, trying to present yourself in positive light. reference to optics as public relations version. Backstage is private settings, let their hair down. feel more comfortable behaving in certain ways. Think about secretive communication as backstage.
Kaplan: are these widely used terms?
Simi: widely used in sociology
Kaplan: is this distinction prevalent in white supremacist movement? 20th century history?
Simi: a suits and tie approach w ppl like david duke trying to present themselves blended in more with mainstream. terminology like white civil rights, white heritage, to make it sound more innocuous.
Kaplan: re organizational rebranding phrase?
Simi: they try to change their appearance in a way that would be more successful.
Simi: national socialist movement dropped the use of swastika as that would help their appearance.
Backstage communication re unite the right
kaplan: ex 1410, an email
simi: from Kessler to Jeff Schoep a defendant in this case. they want to avoid the bad optics as to camoflage themselves – in this case hiding swastikas.
Jeff Schoep said that they have suspended use of the swastika as of nov 2016 . not because they disavowed the swastika. clearly in the email you can see that is not the case.
Kaplan; refer ex 2777 in binder .
simi: daily stormer operational security email for ‘right wing rallies’. not a generic right wing organization but they use that term specifically as a ploy. July 31 2017 date of article.
Kaplan: on page 2 of document. focus on first paragraph
Simi: don’t bring usual phone re threat of antifa or law enforcement. bring burner phones with new accounts, a temporary chat room for that event only. dont call normie phones with your goy phone. make sure buck stops there with your data trail.
A good example of communicating in secret ways in the white supremacist movement. example of burner phones that can be discarded, a directive to use those, underscoring what you would see with backstage type behavior.
Kaplan: another email document, in first paragraph:
Simi: an email from Mr Hill League of the South to their staff. since summer of 2015 the campaign of cleansing the culture of the south
Defense objection that he never interviewed Michael Hill or League of the South, object to knowing content of email.
Kaplan says not a proper objection.
Moon: whats your question
Kaplan asks if simi has studied LoS? (Simi: yes)
Simi: ‘therefore i want no discussion’ of tactics strategies, after action reports…
Kaplan: this is backstage tactics?
Simi: yes this would be wanted on a secure back channel
Plausible deniability and racist jokes in the white supremacist movement and discord servers – Simi
Kaplan: slide 9/
Simi: Plausible deniability. double speak insider language, codes, references, ‘joking’, humor, triggering, provocations of violence. to try to trigger an aggressive response which would then let the people doing the triggering to do an active response and claim self defense.
Kaplan; is there one that exemplifies?
Simi: we believe the daily stormer style guide (ex 2033)
Kaplan: on page 11 to focus on LULZ paragraph.
Simi: The tone should be light .. the unindoctrinated should not be able to tell if we are joking or not. they are very clear about this issue of double speak. people on the inside know jokes are to be taken seriously in terms of its messages advocating for violence. as if ‘im a racist making fun of racist as i dont take myself super seriously’. but this is actually a ploy as as I do want to gas k**** . a clear expression about the violence they want to commit.
Kaplan: a carryover from other pages
Simi: — violence . “it’s illegal to promote violence on the internet” but important to nromalize violence as an eventuality / inevitability.
Kaplan : the number 88
Simi: a code used widely in WS movement. 88 stands for HH Heil Hitler. 14 used as 14 words.
Kaplan: turn to joking and humor, ex 562. General channel in altright server, RadicalAgenda#7529. Associated to Chris Cantwell.
Simi: if you kill a jew the jew in you dies with him i hear (this is a tasteless joke, relax k***)
Simi wraps up discussion of white supremacist humor , see the message here from Kessler:
Kolenich starts cross examination. James Kolenich is counsel for IE/Damigo and Kessler
Simi going over MadDimension (kessler) discord message. ‘this was my doing. we triggered this Jew into attacking one of our guys’.. charge with assault. this is aimed at plausible deniability.
Kaplan: 1955 ex.
Simi: MadDimension in general channel Cville2.0 . if you want a chance to crack antifa skulls don’t open carry . aiming to supposedly do it in self defense, best way to provoke them. the idea is that they want a confrontation to be most likely.
Defense takes over a cross examination – Kolenich
We will post the exchanges with Kolenich and now Richard Spencer now cross examining Simi at the lunch break – it’s moving fast here
Kolenich cross examines Simi (1/2)
Kolenich is trying to probe list of moderators.
Simi; we were able to determine from depositions, testimony, by looking at posts who the moderators were. Talking about the leadership channel of the charlottesville discord server.
Kolenich asks if Damigo is on the list
SImi: we identified multiple servers. when i refer to mods and admins, its not just Cville2.0 but multiple servers. apologize if it wasnt’ clear.
Kolenich: you maybe meant the Evropa discord server. Do you recall testifying, front stage and back stage behavior and that is a relatively common sociological term?
Kolenich: How widespread is it to apply this to white supremacists? Does anyone besides you apply?
Simi: beyond Blee etc, other at Univ of Alabama have written on impression management, front stage / backstage. its related. trying to control how they see you. Naming other professors, Prof Shanks-Meile, Richard Mitchell, another written on this topic.
Kolenich: all the academics you mention apply frontstage/backstage to white supremacy?
Kolenich: how rigorous is the examiniation of white supremacists in your profession?
Simi: used throughout the discipline, not just about the WS movement. No special standards there
Kolenich: gone thru examples of ridiculously awful language, (yes) but you’re contending this is used to communicated intent not obvious from the words used? Is there any part of your opinion to do with intent of speakers?
Simi: we were not asked to opine on the conspiracy specificially. we found in our analysis and examination it was consistent with core characteristics of the white supremacist movement.
Kolenich: know about radicalization generally?
Kolenich: what proportion go on to violent behavior? going on to violence is a few?
Simi; a portion radicalize to violent action. beliefs people much larger than violent actions
SImi: we never said inevitably
Kolenich: if you have a belief whites are being genocided, are you saying that would lead you committing violent acts?
Simi: the credo the 14 words is a call for violence. if they were committed to the 14 words it increases the likelihood to violence
Simi: that require secure future phrase is a call for violence. requires violence.
Kolenich: i can’t remember the 14 words, does it mean political revolution? have more white children?
simi; penned by a violent terrorist who murdered multiple people it is not about a peaceful transition in electing new people.
Kolenich: few people go on to violence?
simi: no a smaller portion. a few is inaccurate.
kolenich: less than half?
simi: not a person in the world could quantify.
kolenich; are you an anti fascist?
simi: in other words like nazi germany and the holocaust? I am not a member of antifa
kolenich: do you follow antifa on twitter?
simi: i follow white supremacists on twitter. are there antifa accounts i follow to gather more info on white supremacists? possible but cant tell you on top of my head
kolenich: what about antifa
plaintiff objects as he never said he is an expert about antifa
kolenich: its permissible to demonstrate bias of an expert witness. will not ask him more about membership in antifa. is it possible to not have a political opinion as an expert (paraphrase) at a radio interview, no date handy. impossible not to choose a political opinion as an expert and thats not a bad thing
simi; would like to see the context?
kolenich: on a podcast. title is what do we know about hate, the best i can do.
simi; i do a lot of interviews, podcasts so forth.
kolenich: is your objective dismantling groups
simi; re cacner researchers. typically interested both in intervention and prevention. rarely is that person gonna be dispassionate about preventing lung cancer / breast cancer. am i interested in trying to prevent and intervene in white supremacist violence thru my research? answer is yes.
kolenich you analogized to cancer. (Re WS violence)
simi; core characterized by violence.
kolenich; you discussed some violent incidents, dylan roof
simi; do you want to talk about violence in WS movement? the david lane cell,
kolenich, do you have specific examples
plaintiff objects to sprawling this.
kolenich withdraw. dylann roof, shot up a church. they let him in, prayed with him then he pulled a gun and shot. i dont see what saying racist things online has to do with that behavior. what in the defendants rhetoric suggests this, and shooting?
plaintiff object .. overruled
simi; celebrating holocaust, 12 million, throwing Turks in the ocean.
kolenich. no one is trying to defend those statements as reasonable things.
simi. they talk about violence in specific terms strategies and tactics. places people dates times that suggests a greater degree of threat. we see very specific references about how to commit violence.
kolenich; do you know about 1st amendment
simi; not a legal scholar.
kolenich. no matter how violent the rhetoric the law protects it.. no matter how offensive
simi; my understanding is that there is a threshold
kolenich; doesnt protect conspriracy
plaintiff objects this is a speech. moon; ask a question
kolenich: youre citing rhetoric and trying to link to an event.
simi; this is about planning UTR
kolenich; a horrific philosophy and then deniability.
simi; stages include deniability
kolenich; is it not legal to defend?
plaintiff object beyond scope.
sustained kolenich back track.
simi; triggering and provocation is part of the WS culture more broadly and would include targeting specific individuals.
kolenich: is your opinion there is between antifa and white supremacists a conflict?
simi: these groups, have engaged in conflict
kolenich: do they see as a threat ?
simi: they see anyone as a threat that is opposed ot the cause
kolenich: they see as a threat at the rallies?
simi: that is in their literature..
Kolenich has no more questions
Richard Spencer cross examines Professor Simi, dwelling on his own publishing of certain Jewish authors in little-read tracts
Spencer starts to question simi. agrees they have never met. spencer asks if he ever reached out. simi says no.
Spencer says you testified it was centrally organized on discord
Simi: a lot of it did happen
Spencer : a secret or secure means of communication, the straight dope? backstage behavior?
Simi; you would see to some degree.
spencer: what was my handle on discord?
simi; they are secretive
spencer: did you think i was involved in UTR discord?
simi; the org beyond discord certainly. it was not only on discord.
spencer: when you tag someone on twitter. what are you doing, when you put someones handle on a public tweet.
simi — not an expert in tweeting
spencer; sometimes people may tag public figures
simi; its fair someone would maybe tag leading figures (paraphrasing)
spencer; did you see people outside the WS movement tagging me
simi; not sure
spencer; are people tagged responsible for the message
simi; the person tagged did not write the message
spencer; dylann roof mentioned. in your research have you found critical comments about dylann roof?
simi: refresh my memory
spencer; i wrote a long article condemning him, does that surprise you
simi; no thats a strategy in the white supremacist movement (cut off by spencer)
spencer: did you see an interview i did on israeli tv, comment about zionism?
simi; not off the top of my head (isn’t available here)
spencer: do i go on israeli TV to insult them? (objection from plaintiff) do i engage in insulting or dehumanizing behavior?
simi ; in some cases . .. (do you want examples?)
spencer: re publishing books.. are you aware of Radix or some other publishers?
simi; part of this universe trying to promote literature, race realism on certain issues.
spencer: aware of radix journal and essays entire books by Jews?
Simi: Ok? I wasn’t specifically aware.
Spencer: paul Gotfried, Robert Roth…
Simi: someone you worked with earlier who was promoting this term early on.
Spencer: by publishing essay and full length by Jews was i trying to dehumanize Jews?
Simi interrupted by defense claims its a yes/no question. Moon says it’s not a yes or no question. Simi doesnt think its an indication of a lack of antisemitism.
Spencer: you testified you’re aware of my publishing. What kind of audience for footonoted books? Who was i aiming to reach?
simi; people who would find the arguments of interest.
spencer; are you aware of my commentary on white genocide theory? that i criticized as unhelpful?
simi: your inconsistent record
Spencer; no further questions.
Plaintiff attorney tries to get full answer on record. re ‘you can’t quite fit me into the box you want’ said spencer. Moon says argumentative question and waves hands.
Edward Rebrook attorney for the National Socialist Movement and its leader Jeff Schoep cross examines Professor Simi
Edward Rebrook for NSM and Jeff Schoep. asks about time frame of ethnographic field work.
simi says 1997-2004 and mor recently life history interviews w former members of WS movements.
Rebrook asks who in the NSM did he get interviews with.
Simi says institutional review board binding means he cannot mention the name, it would be a violation of confidentiality regulations and procedures.
Rebrook more geneally asks if he worked with NSM members who were at the UTR rally
Simi says he cannot answer. He was not sure which people in NSM attended the rally.
Moon asks did you know any person at the rally from NSM. Simi says not to his knowledge.
Simi: we have no way of knowing who is and isnt’ on the discord. a blanket statement is not possible.
Rebrook: were there any NSM members on the discord?
Simi: you have people in the discord using aliases, not indicating who they are. A question I can’t really answer yes or no.
Rebrook: re backstage behavior, did you witness backstage behavior by NSM members?
Simi: we discussed some emails in the testimony, good examples of optics on the front stage and more private comms.
Rebrook; re plausible deniability. would actively seeking out law enforcement further that goal? going out of way to get Cville police present at the rally would that further plausible deniability.
Simi; that goes beyond what we were asked to do in this assignment. what role it did or didn’t play, thats not part of it.
Rebrook. fair answer. you say impression management is that unique to WS groups?
Simi: no its used more broadly.
Rebrook asks if simi is doing impression mgmt?
simi: we all are.
Rebrook: re words and phrases. (objection inaudible) is it fair you can definitely discern words that a casual observer might not discern?
simi; yes. that is part of the research methodology. immersing yourself in that world that would be different than a casual observer.
rebrook; are there words and phrases WS can say in public spaces that will guarantee violence?
simi; thats a strong word. not sure if any word we could say would guarantee violence.
rebrook: more likely than not?
simi: they know re triggering provocation, they know some are more likely to generate a response, aggressive etc
rebrook; is it your testimony that people who are triggered are not respsonsible?
rebrook; is white supremacist rhetoric similar to a wife beater saying his wife provoked him. (plaintiff objection) is triggering different than…
simi; how do you mean a battered spouse?
rebrook; is someone beaten by their husband responsible for beaitng?
simi; of course not
rebrook; you say WS see world thru violence; do other groups / all groups see thru violence
simi; i dont study all groups
rebrook; is violence an idea or action?
simi; violent action, violent ideas
rebrook; anyone harmed by violent idea
simi; a line in neuroscience this can be debilitating, not to get in the weeds but scientifically that does find that.
rebrook; is hate speech violent?
simi; hate speech often involves references to violence… i distingiushed from violent speech/action
rebrook; is veneration of violence unique to WS?
simi; no i mentioned al Qaeda, ISIS etc
rebrook: americans venerate violence? books films, Dean Koontz writes on violent murder of women?
simi: define veneration
rebrook; attraction to violence
simi; a lot of movies and books discuss violence
rebook; how many WS present at UTR?
simi. heard estimates. 3-400 to well over 500. to be honest i don’t know accuracy.
rebrook: how many physically harmed at that rally?
simi; i’ve heard of fatality, dozens injured.
rebrook; how many injured apart from James Alex Fields?
simi; i don’t have an estimate. i know there were injuries outside the car attack.
rebrook; did you only research coutnerprotesters injured?
simi; we didn’t research injuries. i say that as someone who followed what happened in more general way. our assignment didn’t involve assessing ## of injured anything on those lines
rebrook; did you read any comms between Fields and Jeff Schoep?
simi: to our knowledge no
rebrook; you mention impaling people. in your research did any people at UTR get impaled
simi; not aware of any impaled
rebrook (similar Q about farm equipment and answer)
rebrook; as part of your research, did you have to … people in those WS groups? in the book did you say you snickered at racist jokes you found appalling.
Lunch recess until 1:35PM.
We are awaiting the afternoon session of Day 14 of ‘Sines v. Kessler’ #UniteTheRight on trial to resume. To learn more about our coverage see the Far Right Investigations Desk – context for years of coverage from Unicorn Riot
A once-packed press room has dwindled down to around a half-dozen reporters (+/-) during this long trial. Your support has enabled us to keep track of all the twists and turns by reporting on the ground from Charlottesville. Support our work here:
The jury is being called back in for the afternoon session. Before they enter, something raised by Kaplan about evidence and Sines, something Mr. Smith said about testimony to impeach, involving a law clerk — Cantwell also tried to say something else
Cantwell (pro se) claims the ‘woof woof’ noise were purported to be barking like dogs while Simi had mentioned it was ‘roof roof’ as a reference to Dylann Roof, but Cantwell wants a jury instruction. Judge Moon seems to say, that’s a matter for witnesses to lay out
the audio is cut in the press room as Judge Moon huddles at the left side of the bar (as viewed from the camera) discussing something with several people
James Fields’ attorney starts to cross examine Simi and they seem to agree the large majority of planning was done on Discord ‘centrally’ it is agreed.
Simi says it’s known Fields had an account on Discord generally but it’s not known either way if he was a specific user handle in these planning servers
Fields’ attorney tries to disassociate Fields from “organizing” UTR and goes over nuances of tweets in cross examining Prof. Simi
Simi says that there was no material showing Fields planned the Unite the Right event. Simi adds that the subject of their investigation is about the involvement in the white supremacist movement.
James Alex Fields’ attorney David Campbell is trying to pare down if Fields organized Unite the Right.
Plaintiff objects foundation that that was not exactly the testimony.
Simi says that the organization of Unite the Right was consistent with the principles of the white supremacist movement.
Fields attorney tries to see if Simi thinks Fields organizing UTR. He asks if tagging a tweet is communicating with someone or attempting to communicate with someone
Simi says that is debatable.
Fields attorney is trying to suss out if Fields’ tweets were ‘front stage’ or backstage.
Simi says that to outsiders that content might not be interpreted as advocacy for violence, but more legible to insiders. There are nuances, and not always a rigid distinction
Fields attorney: pictures of Hitler are not backstage?
Simi: that’s fair.
Fields attorney David Campbell then asks if Simi was familiar with the defendants beforehand. Generally he was with the exception of Fields. Ends questions.
Bryan Jones representing the League of the South and its leadership cross examines Professor Simi
Next cross: Bryan Jones, The attorney for Tubbs and League of the South asks if Simi is being paid. Sines says he was offered $30,000 by Integrity for America. The attorney asks what their relation is to their litigation. Simi says he doesn’t know the technicalities. It was taken initially pro bono in the letter of engagement and IFA offered to pay later.
Plaintiff objects. Jones asks if Simi is involved with Life After Hate (he is) and that Samantha Froelich has also been involved – Simi says that was how he got to know of her.
Jones asks about ethnographic field work and reconfirms details from earlier today.
Simi says that in ethnographic field work it gives you a vantage point of deeper understanding, culture and community, to try and see things from their perspective and how they understand the world.
Jones asks if that is different benefit of information than looking at websites etc
Simi says in some cases yes but that is a complicated question involving research methodology, pros and cons of research methods. “Sometimes.”
Jones asks if he stayed in Michael Tubbs or Michael Hills’ couch and never interviewed anyone in League of the South.
Simi denies that the research is superficial. He says they write broadly about the movement in which League of the South is a part. It would be hard to mention all groups involved in 50 articles plus books.
Simi is trying to answer about the nature of the ethnographic research and regions while the attorney keeps interrupting.
Jones asks if Simi can tell if any given statement is just a joke or has deeper meaning.
Simi responds that the answer is complicated (paraphrasing)
Jones asks about if anyone who opposes statue removals is a white supremacist. Simi rejects the idea.
Jones asks about whether opponents of white supremacists use violence, as well as doxing
Jones asks about how white supremacists’ opponents might be violent. Simi says he does not know the details to what he refers to. Kaplan demands he stop interrupting. Judge Moon asks Kaplan not to do that.
Simi says he is aware white supremacists talk a lot about being supposedly opposed by people that oppose violence. Pressing on the issue Jones tries to get Simi on the opponents. Kaplan says Jones interrupted Simi again.
Jones asks that Simi has been doing this work for 25 years. He says that white supremacists talk a lot about being opposed by violence. Simi agrees it is a promoninent theme. Simi says he does not have all the details about the perception of antagonism and perceptions of violence, in terms of whether Simi knows if the claims are accurate or not.
Jones says you never ran across cases of opponents of white supremacists using violence.
Simi agrees there are documented instances of this.
Jones says that they do use violence.
Simi says that is a fair statement.
Jones asks about doxing and that white supremacists are worried about doxing. Simi agrees they talk about it. And Simi agrees that they talk about not walking their cell phones gotten by their opponents. Simi agrees there are instances of consequences like white supremacists losing their jobs if they get doxed.
Simi spent over 1000 hours reviewing discord messages. Jones asks if Michael Chesney was Tyrone, that that took digging. Simi says it took more than that, it took depositions etc. Jones asked if they spent time trying to ID people in discord. Simi says it was not a major part of their assignment to track down users based on handles.
Jones asks about blowback – then in closing tries to claim that the researchers presupposed conclusions in order to avoid blowback (from being too positive about white supremacists – seems to be his point). He concludes.
Jones asks about the methodology used for the research with Blee. Simi says the methodology is an inductive process (re how to get to conclusions).
Jones says Blee gave a speech at the University of Florida in 2014 and plays a clip. Judge Moon asks if we are supposed to be hearing that (it is not connected to the court press audio system).
Jones says it was important for them to know that I was going to say negative things about them before doing the research because you get a lot of blowback. Agree w methodology?
Simi says that is a practice of ethics and safety. Her determination was that she needed to present up front. When dealing with a movement that idealizes Adolf Hitler, expresses support for the Holocaust and lynching, negative things are going to be said in documenting these findings. Imagine trying to study serial killers and not say anything negative.
Simi says it regards blowback from white supremacists.
Jones reiterates what Blee said about avoiding blowback. He tries to presuppose there would be blowback if she said positive things.
Simi clarifies that if she were not up front there would be blowback from the white supremacists.
Defense attorney Joshua Smith (For TWP, Heimbach, Parrott) is trying to get at Simi about white supremacy definitions
Defense attorney Joshua Smith (for TWP, Heimbach & Parrott) says that Simi is getting paid to come in and say that the defendants words don’t mean what they say they mean.
Simi says that is not accurate. Wants to unpack question and will say what’s inaccurate.
Simi says they are not paying us to say anything. They provided us with lots of material and they rely on methodology to offer an opinion. Not being paid to say XYZ.
Smith asks what is a white supremacist
Simi says they are not talking about random individuals. thinking about in group / out group. An explicit bias towards the outgroup, people of color. That the white people are responsible for the advances of civilzation etc.
Smith: is that not accurate about the advancement of civilization?
Simi: Is that a serious question?
Smith: are you saying whites are not responsible for advancing the bulk of tech?
Plaintiffs object this outside of scope.
Judge Moon says Simi is not here to testify about whites vs other persons (eg tech) and he is not expressing for or against either side. He is there to share professional opinion.
Defense attorney Smith goes on about Chinese and Japanese cultural aspects re front/back stage:
Simi reiterates earlier points and adds that ‘nonwhite’ is used commonly by white supremacists. Kaplan objects. Moon asks Simi to go on. He says that it is commonly used by white supremacists.
Smith asks if Simi thinks that China has a Chinese supremacy problem and is going on about a supposed anti white bias on the part of Simi.
Simi says he is here an expert on white supremacists not here about China. Moon says … I’m not sure what you’re askin’. Smith asks if Simi thinks every race should have their own ethnostate but whites. Simi says he does not believe that. Smith asks if other races should have ethnostates. Plaintiffs object saying its far afield.
Smith asks about impression management. He says it was like what any PR firm would do. Simi says these terms are not unique to the WS movement and neither is PR. Smith tries to dwell on the subject and Simi gets back to front stage back stage. Smith brings up some kind of thing about Japanese culture re public/private divide. Plaintiffs object that Simi is not an expert on Japanese culture. Smith claims Simi has passed judgment on (something). It doesn’t seem like he’s totally fine with front/back stage says Smith.
Smith jumps around to a number of topics trying to conflate basic sociology concepts with white supremacy:
Moon points out that Smith is jumping around on topics. Smith is calling in remotely. Smith asks if Simi is a doctor of any kind (psych)etc. But he has a PhD. Smith asks about if outgroups are a common perception among races. Plaintiffs say this is a vague question. Smith asks if other races engage in outgroup behavior or are tribal in nature.
Simi says in group out group dynamics are not restricted to white supremacists.
Smith says Israel has an ethnostate since 1948. Moon says Simi is not here to say what is good or bad, that he did research on the ‘white supremacy situation’. Smith says that he testified that any one who wanted an ethnostate for whites they would be a white supremacist, he is wondering if residents of Israel are white supremacists.
Simi says he mischaracterized testimony; that one of the primary goals of the WS movement is to create a white homeland.
Smith asks if he has a normative view of a white homeland. Simi says he is not here to talk about norms but is here to talk about his opinion of the white supremacist movement.
Smith asks about Hillary Clinton having a public private distinction and asks if Simi thinks Clinton is a white supremacists. Moon says the question makes no sense; he adds that front stage / back stage is not confined to white supremacy. Smith blames his bad handwriting.
Smith says another form of ethnostate would be a supermajority white population and another population subordinated to white authority. Simi agrees. Smith says that is the setup that they have in Singapore. Plaintiff says “now we’re talking about Singapore?” Moon says he is mischaracterizing.
A nearly agitated Smith goes on and on about ‘gas the k****’ and similar terminology, then closes out and Cantwell begins pro se defense
Smith asks if the protester digester is known by Simi to not be real.
Simi agrees he said it was farm equipment.
Smith says he thinks cross examination is a conversation with a witness. “Trying to keep it lively for everybody.” He asks if Simi received ADL or SPLC money. Simi denies getting ADL money and SPLC money. He asks if he works with anyone who does. Simi says he doesn’t know. Smith asks about Simon Weisenthal Center. Plaintiff objects and is overruled. Smith asks if he gets any money from other pro Jewish organization. Simi doesn’t know what a pro Jewish organization. Smith asks if he knows what a pro Black organization.
Moon says you don’t need to go thru any list; he says you can ask if he got any money from orgs supporting Jewish issues. Simi says not that he is aware of, to the judge.
Smith says there were statements on discord about gassing the k***s. Simi agrees. Smith asks if Simi was embedded with the nazis for 20 years. Plaintiff objects and is overruled. Smith walks it back to whatever groups. Simi says embedded between 1997 and 2004, with additional research to the present.
Smith says they use this phrase all the time and are they doing this all the time? Do they do it all the time? i.e. do they gas the k**** all the time?
Simi says they have extensive histories of violent crime and terrorism so the answer is yes. Smith says, what about poison gas with Jews, if thats what it means? Simi says its a reference to violence more broadly. But he is not aware of his research subjects gassing people. Smith says azzmador says he gassed six k****. Simi says that Azzmador is not a research subject.
Smith argues with the judge about azzmador, the judge also uses the term ‘gas the k****’. That doesn’t impeach this witness says Moon. Moon tells Smith to go to another subject.
Chris Cantwell (pro se defendant) tries to get into a discussion about opinions around critical race theory
Cantwell asks about the nature of the white supremacist movement. He asks about how white supremacists think Jews originated capitalism and communism. Simi says there are internal inconsistencies that white supremacists negotiate. Cantwell asks how many Radical Agenda episodes did Simi listen to before the case. Simi estimated about two but not precisely. Simi agrees it’s between one and five episodes.
Cantwell asks if he listened to more episodes starting on the case. Simi says thousands of documents reviewed. IT would be more approximately less than twenty episodes, in the dozen range says Simi. Fair 12-15 episodes. Cantwell asked who decided what episodes to listen to. Simi says that the labor of review was divided in the strategy between himself and Blee. All the material they looked at was provided by plaintiffs’ counsel says Simi.
Simi says he reviews a lot of white supremaicst material on a regular basis. Cantwell tilts back and forth at the podium putting his hands in his pockets. He asks if the material was fed to Simi by activists and Simi denies it. He asks what was the methodology? Simi was trying to maintain some familiarity w the movement, not that he was trying to analyze the podcast itself.
Cantwell asks if he remembers anything from the earlier episodes.
Simi says a lot of material has antisemitism, there are more broad themes about white supremacy. Simi says he can’t recite an episode off the top of his head.
Cantwell asks if he is familiar with Kendi, D’Angelo and asks if its fair to characterize their work as critical race theory. Simi says they should be asked about critical race theory.
THe plaintiff objects but Simi goes in to say, that he is aware of critical race theory framework initiated in the 70s 80s, was aware of it in graduate school training.
Cantwell asks if CRT is important to understanding white supremacy. Simi says partially. Adds that people who study WS have not used CRT but some could use CRT to analyze WS.
Cantwell asks if CRT views America as white supremacist. After objection Moon says that he is there to testify about criteria or factors. Not that he’s been called upon to pass judgement.
Moon says we are not gonna go down the road of talking about Critical Race Theory. Moon says lets go on after Cantwell asks for a sidebar.
Cantwell asks about alternate definitions of white supremacy. He says people like D’Angelo would say the normal state of America is white supremacy. Moon raising voice saying this was irrelevant (paraphrase)
Cantwell says hes not asking if its good or bad but that he’s here to say WS is characterized by violence but there are other experts who say white supremacy is defined differently.
Cantwell tries to argue that the leaked daily stormer style guide (which has meme strategy tips for racist propaganda) should count as ‘front stage’
Simi says our opinion is about the white supremacist movement. to which violence is at the core of the movement simi knows of no scholar ignoring this.
Cantwell asks about if a racist joke not a joke.
Simi says the opinion is about violent humor in the white supremacist movement and clear indications of double meanings. (daily stormer style guide) It’s not about individual jokes.
Cantwell asks how simi got the daily stormer style guide. Simi says it was provided. Cantwell says the attorneys gave the podcast episodes, the style guide, the discord chats (Simi agrees)
Cantwell asks how they got it, Simi doesn’t know, or know how it got to be public. Cantwell agrees that its public. He claims its a front stage behavior because its public but Simi says thats not true.
Simi says these are sociological terms. Cantwell asks if this was something the publisher wanted to the public. Cantwell says it was published by the huffington post so it must be front stage behavior. Simi says it has aspects in it that were meant for insiders. That involved directives in the guide. once its in the public domain it has some front stage aspects at that point.
Cantwell tries to float a conspiracy theory involving weev, a senior figure in the daily stormer website, being ethnically Jewish, relating to this case.
Cantwell asks to publish the style guide to the jury and now address the ‘lulz’ section. He asks if the lulz section is characterized as backstage behavior.
Simi says this is an example of double speak. Something that would have a different meaning for a different audience.
Cantwell says lulz is internet slang. Simi says that refers to internet humor. Cantwell says, Andrew Anglin says this is obviously a ploy and he really does want to gas *. Cantwell asks if Simi got discovery from daily stormer. Simi says they got some material from plaintiffs. Simi is not certain if he read emails from inside the stormer. Simi says its difficult but he doesn’t think he read.
Cantwell asks if Simi doesn’t know what the stormer does backstage. Simi says that is unfair. Simi says that the style guide gives a sense of it. Cantwell says that the (leaked) doc is public. Simi says they went thru it earlier, in the direct testimony, it gave directives indicative of backstage direction in a secretive guarded manner.
Cantwell says, now you’re talking about the operational security for right wing rallies. Simi agrees. Cantwell says that was published July 31 2017, Simi said he agrees so. Plaintiffs agree that they are happy to publish this.
Cantwell asks who wrote it. Simi says it says weev. Cantwell asks do you know who weev is? Simi says yes. Answers his name is Andrew Aurenheimer. Not sure what country he resides in. Cantwell asks about weev’s ethnic background. Simi says he believes he’s Jewish. Cantwell says he’s telling convenient things about destroying evidence.
Plaintiffs argue that the document should be submitted and Moon overrules.
Cantwell asks about the daily stormer. Simi says it’s openly neonazi with a web presence, there are book clubs organized over the years, gatherings online and offline. Cantwell asks if its one of the most popular sites. Simi agrees its that way in the report. They agree weev is a senior partner in the project. “The daily stormer is run by a Jew” says Cantwell. Moon says its argumentative. He asks if that material is being used in the case. Simi says yes it’s being discussed.
Cantwell says “so a Jewish white supremacist is engaging in double speak”. Cantwell asks for more. Daniel Burros was in the KKK, mentions Simi, who adds he committed suicide.
Simi says he is not an expert in encryption. Cantwell mentions 0426 (the bowl patrol meme earlier today). Cantwell relishing using expletives like n* in court from this meme. Cantwell asks if Simi reviewed discovery provided by azzmador. Simi says thats unclear. Off the top of his head Simi does not recall azzmador’s emails.
Cantwell revisits the disturbing Bowl Patrol meme from earlier today – minutes later the judge calls a 20 minute afternoon break. Should resume close to 3:30PM.
The judge calls a 20 minute break (close to 3:30PM)
With accusations from Cantwell about DailyStormer being operated by “a Jew” (weev – Andrew Alan Escher Auernheimer) it’s another indicator of the mutual animosity among defendants – who keep floating various conspiracy theories against each other during their defense attempts. Court is proceeding for final 90 minutes or so today – Cantwell tries to probe more on the bowl patrol memes
Cantwell says Azzmador published the offensive image. The image was on the bowl patrol server, bowlnet gallery. Cantwell asks if the channels have to do with bowl, Simi agrees that’s a Dylann Roof reference.
Cantwell asks how much UTR organizing happened in this server. Simi says you’re asking if off the top of my head, to be careful, in his testimony it’s not a large amount.
Cantwell asks what bowl patrol means, and about Vic Mackey. he asks if Simi knows Mackey’s ethnic background. Simi does not recall. Cantwell asks if any of the defendants are part of bowl patrol. Simi says he doesn’t know. Moon nearly jumps in.
Cantwell says that this image is taken seriously. Simi says images like this. Cantwell asks how many “n**** totes” were sold. Simi says hes’s not sure. Simi says their opinion about this image and similar is not that they are merchandise but that they are about dehumanization of racial enemies / adversaries both visual and text , that is what the opinion is about. Not about whether it’s sold or how much
Cantwell asks if Simi has ever written / spoken about promoting hate speech laws? Simi says not to my knowledge, unless he has something to show. Cantwell says this report is the first you’ve done that. Plaintiff objects and Cantwell withdraws.
Cantwell going on about communism and double meanings
Cantwell revisits the ‘tasteless joke’ about ‘killing a Jew’ in the altright discord server. Asks if Simi said that Cantwell took it seriously? Simi says he didn’t say that. Simi says this is an example of how humor is used in the white supremacist movement. How humor is both conveying violence and making the claim that it’s just a joke.
Cantwell tries to get more about double meaning or taking seriously the joke. Simi says the advocacy of violence is a serious matter. Cantwell says this seems to be front stage behavior. Simi says we use this as an example of double speak.
Cantwell asks if the parenthetical part indicates if he thinks the Jews are listening. Simi says the effort is not to get into Cantwell’s mind and see what he thinks, but to look for core markers of the white supremacist movement’s culture.
Cantwell wants to know if this is front stage or backstage culture, is he front stage or back stage. Simi says this is an example of doublespeak; it can occur in front or back stage; doublespeak is intentionally deceptive communication. Simultaneously can have a different meaning to outsiders. Moon asks Cantwell to move to another subject
Cantwell asks if commies are a threat to the WS movement. Simi says they discuss it, its a substantial feature. Cantwell asks if Communism has a lot of opponents. Plaintiffs object as beside the point. Simi says its beyond his expertise.
Simi says his expert knowledge – is that he does not study communism. Moon says ‘commie’ has been defined outside people who believe in communism. Cantwell says the implication is that we are conjuring up enemies to justify initatory violence.
One last tangent from Cantwell before he ends questions.
Moon says that he thinks you’ve gone into this far enough and its not productive. Cantwell asks if they tried to determine what caused the violence? Simi says it was not part of the assignment. Simi says he did not read Mark Bray’s antifascist handbook in response to a question.
Cantwell has no further questions.
Kaplan addresses some loose ends in redirect with Simi and he is released.
Redirect from Kaplan. Asks about Samantha Froelich. Simi says he never had any contact besides reviewing the deposition and case materials.
Kaplan: re the $30K offered. And 1000 hours of work. What’s your normal rate. Simi – $250-300 an hour. Kaplan asks if the rate comes out to about $30 an hour, Simi agrees roughly.
Kaplan asks they last embedded in 2004. Simi agrees he was younger. ANd that he is a white man. Kaplan asks if it was safer for him to embed than professor Blee? Simi agrees.
Kaplan asks re the daily stormer style guide and front / back stage. isn’t it true that it was leaked after written in 2017? Simi says thats his understanding. Cantwell also asked about the operational security stormer doc. Kaplan says it was written July 31 2017. Exhibit 375, a discord chat. in the azzmador server. FIrst messages from defendant azzmador in channel general. the link is to an oeperational security. the date is july 31 2017 in the discord post.
azzmador also directs people on Discord to get tiki torches for the torch march from dollar stores in an adjacent question.
April Muniz – Plaintiff
Plaintiff April Muniz, Age 53, 31 yr resident of Charlottesville area, has started to testify. She has a BA in psychology and modern dance, and master in science & health science in GW University, is Mexican-American. currently work at veridyne hq’d in chicago a project manager
Muniz says she is here because she witnessed a horrific car attack and here to find some accountability for that and stand up for those people. Moon says wait wait, the lawsuit any more than an (injury?) Not proper to come and say a greater plan than a lawsuit itself
Muniz says she wants to hold accountable for the injuries, Moon seems to agree. she says she went downtown to stand up with her community, bear witness to events of day, support local businesses that were fearful of losing business that day. got downtown just before noon, alone
Muniz says she didnt bring weapons, signs but brought a cell phone, camera , fanny pack. she went to emancipation park and it was pretty empty and was confused. got there after the state of emergency. wandered around a little and went to alternate parks. not much happening
She ended up at the intersection of 4th & Water street, after first observing a crowd coming down water st. they were walking, took pictures, they were celebratory. saw another similar group, they joined like two rivers. she says near 1st & Water St Muniz recounts the vehicle attack in graphic detail
Muniz says they saw two cars waiting to go by the intesection. the photo (we cannot see) there are two cars. Move in exhibit 1694 to jury
she circles herself in photo holding a cell phone in front of red surface. muniz says just as she got past the telephone pole the car came careening into the crowd. Muniz pauses before recounting the attack to drink water.
she saw the car hit a white car, saw people flying into the air, shoes and water bottles. i saw many people lying over the floor injured and screaming, the most hoirrific thing i’ve ever seen (sobbing). i heard the sound of metal hitting bodies, dont know how else to describe. metal on flesh, metal on metal, lots of screaming and agony.
asks if she recognizes another photo. sje circles in the background near the stop sign. immediately after the attack she looked at the car, very quickly the dodge challenger backed up. when it did that it hit more people. she circles marcus martin, he is leaning on a truck there. as i recall he cleared that truck but there was another person. it squished her between the challenger and the truck right in my view. muniz says i was terrified, and thought he was backing away to come back at us to plow us all down.
many people started yelling run run run, i ran down the hill and around the corner (arrow downwards) tucked into an alcove to hide. she says i left there, i had already experienced feeling like i was going to get trampled. i stepped over injured people and was fearful of getting trampled. left the alcove, crossed water street and looked back at what happened.
Muniz recalls terror and dissociation, continuing triggers and panic attacks after vehicle attack.
she was able to release a few minutes later and crumpled to the floor. she was checked by a street medic who said she was in shock and it took a while for them to convince me it was safe to walk on a street again. was 10 minutes with them they were taking her to a church set up as a first aid center. treated at the methodist church. was brought into see a certified trauma therapist there to see patients that day. spent a couple hours with her.
The therapy was called EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing). Muniz says she was in a disassociative state. she worked for about an hour to get into that state and that she was no longer at the scene. so that she could think enough to talk. was set up for 2 people and 2 therapist. small fabric panel between us. another person arrived and had been giving CPR. someone came in and told her that that person had died. Muniz says that person lost control and went back immediately into that state of terror. she thought of the people attacked and thought many of them had died. l
left the church at 4.30pm, was a wreck when she got home and was in bouts of crying. was in insomnia and have had a lot of insomnia since then. had horrific night terrors reliving that scene. lasting effects, it upended Muniz life, socially, physically, professionally.
the therapist sent her away with appointment scheduled at the church and continues to see her, from twice a week to now, an as needed basis as a check in. diagnosis provided. first was acute distress disorder. second one is post traumatic stress disorder. acute is bound by a time frame either immediately.
Muniz says a variety of things trigger her, a lot related to cars. whenever she sees a dodge challenger, the Cville police dept has one that passes by more often than she likes. lots of white cars trigger me. sound of a helicopter triggers me, there was one flying above at that moment. we live by a trauma center that has them flying in all the time.
Muniz recounts the medical effects of the attack on various levels and reviews a sheet of medical expenses in evidence.
Muniz says her central nervous system feels like it was vibrating. not like shaking but your whole body is ennervated. the therapist suggested a body worker aimed at calming the system, cranial nerve therapy of a type.
for coping she avoids big crowds. try to meditate, yoga. do a lot of avoidance.
re physical effects. she was not injured by the car physically. however was planning to have a surgery for a pelvic organ prolapse, for 2 years, was painful and was going to phys. therapy to get to that point for mid september 2017 surgery. i went to that pre surgical appointment and they said you are in such a state i am not going thru the surgery, it can’t go thru the trauma of the surgery. she had the surgery in july 2018. had to get thru a lot of therapy EMDR therapy, in March-April allowed to get therapy needed for the surgery.
Muniz recounts her career vastly changing after the car attack affected her
Muniz returned to work 3 months later. worked at a contract research organization, director of clinical operations. a lot of drug development work for rare diseases. she managed a group of 25 people and 3 managers looking after clinical trials around the US and Canada and a separate group doing federal documentation for clinical trials. she went back Nov 2017 but went back part time until Jan 3 2018.
The time off impacted her work . while she was out in touch with the boss. 3 weeks in they decided to give the job to someone else. and there would be a different job for me. like night and day difference. she was an instrumental part, making corporate decisions. new job was to make an intro for college graduate training materials. kind of tucked in a corner to make training materials.
in june 2018 they asked her to leave. she was terminated. (breathes) she believed that her personality had changed so much. socially reserved. when they switched my role, i lost all confidence in my ability to lead and she thinks they felt the same way.
Muniz talks about rebuilding her career and trying to move on as a new person in her life, forever changed by the car attack
She couldn’t work or collect unemployment after the delayed surgery. she found a part time job as a peace corps recruiter, she had returned from the peace corps in 2012 did it before. she knew they would be accepting and it would let her keep doing therapy. aug 2018 to may 2019. after that tried to get back into clinical research, got into UVA School of Medicine doing the research. The salary was about 65% of her old job. Finally in 2021 January she has another job at the old salary level.
Another evidence sheet shows summary of lost wages going thru Jan 2020. Attests it’s an accurate summary.
Asked if she is back to her old self. she thinks she will never get back to her old self. it upended her life. thru lots of therapy she’s learned how to manage being a different person and tools to do that.
Cross-examination: Spencer tries to probe if Muniz understood what organizers were aiming at
Richard Spencer asks if she prepared to attend the rally. Muniz says she knew when and where it was and the alternate park locations.
Spencer asks if she was aware of him. She says she was aware of him and Kessler because they were UVA graduates.
Spencer asks if she ever saw him on August 12. Muniz says no. He asks about emancipation park. she walked by and saw it was empty. she says that she heard about the state of emergency then.
Spencer says you don’t strike me as someone who sought out violence. asks why she went to the rally. Muniz says she has been a resident 31 years to start her adult life and considers it her home. kind of took offense that people which much different beliefs that she had were coming, she wanted to watch and observe and stand witness in her community.
Spencer says so you were not seeking confrontation (not even verbal confrontation Muniz clarifies). Spencer asks about the celebratory crowd and says case is ‘fraught’ but is ultimately a conspiracy charge. he says you claim mental distress after the event took place downtown due to witnessing horrific car incident. so how would organizers of UTR plan on that taking place? you have testified you went to hear speeches, how could they have masterminded a situation that downtown descended into chaos.
plaintiff objects. moon sustains.
Moon explains that it was not her job to know what the defendants were up to – Spencer has no further questions and drops.
Another defense attorney is up. James Alex Fields attorney David Campbell asks some clarifying questions about the therapy treatment, work and lost wages
James Alex Fields attorney David Campbell is up. He asks if she was injured by the car (no). And that the injury was from seeing others hurt (yes). Asks to re explain EMDR.
The therapy is to get eye movement going to separate bodily movement from the mental event. it has moved on to tapping movement. she says she has relived that moment so many times in recent years.
Campbell wants to go thru the employment situation. There was a period of time unable to work at all. Then following that went part time, Jan 3 was first working day, and that was full time thru to first week of June 2018.
Muniz had come to terms with the job change. the management team, having been taken off even before returning to work, they lost confidence, dealing with mental health, they just didn’t think i could handle it. they stopped talking to me, put me in a office in the corner.
Campbell says the treatment was $7000. The claim for lost wages $204,000. Campbell is done.
in cross examination, Chris Cantwell raises the police helicopter video again . 1353 exhibit, no objection from plaintiff. Cantwell asks usual questions about masks / bandannas – it is hot in August and common for ppl to have bandannas says Muniz
Cantwell asks how many people were at the car crash location. Muniz says a couple hundred. She says she took pictures and video, she says they were provided in discovery. He asks if she took pictures of anyone wearing a mask. She says she doesn’t remember.
Cantwell refers to a photo. He asks if there is a ‘club’. She doesn’t remember taking photos in black and white. Muniz 00000573 is the image. He asks if she can see something in someones hand. She doesn’t remember seeing any weapons but does remember helmets. He asks if they were wearing camoflage. She says several had go pro cameras and helmets. She says she probably saw some press. He asks if other people were wearing bandannas. She says she had a gray bandannas – it’s hot in August and people have bandannas.
He asks if many people had red bandannas or black bandannas. There was a lot of black in general on people that day she says.
Cantwell calls attention to misc signs with fists on them, bandannas etc
ex1694 picture looked at. A person who Muniz says seems to be wearing a gaiter, sunglasses and a helmet is highlighted by Cantwell. He asks her to keep identifying clothing on people in the crowd.
Muniz says that something could be camoflage in response to Cantwell. He asks if she remembers a sign. The fist means solidarity she says. She grew up in the civil right movement, saw a pic with fist with a fork in it at the snack station. a play on the image she says. at the alternate park.
Cantwell says someone had a raised fork fist – she says its probably in her pics, she thought it was funny. a sign with solidarity, defend womens rights is focused on by Cantwell, as well as a red flag on a flagpole. all of this in the crowd moments before the car attack.
Cantwell continues to look for random symbols and bandannas
Cantwell circles another flag, in a post collision photo, and asks if she noticed it. She does not say she noticed it.
She was right about on the corner near the do-not-enter sign when the crash happened. Cantwell plays another video less than a minute before the crash. the video is from the top of the street near the newspaper dispensers and motorcycle parking but she is not in the video image.
Cantwell asks if someone swung something at the car (after the attack is well in progress) . Muniz agrees someone swung something at the back light . she did not see weapons around that day.
Cantwell asks about the chants. She heard chants like black lives matter and ‘whose streets our streets.’ she says it was a celebratory chant and about ‘retaking space’ . he asks if she hear the antifaschista chant. she says it was a pretty noisy crowd, someone could have said it.
Cantwell says, you didn’t hear them in unison making that chant.
Cantwell shows 0291 again to the jury. he circles a black flag. plaintiff objects that it’s not been described as an antifa flag. she says she was not familiar with antifa at the time. he asks if she has come to know any symbols. Objection from plaintiff. Moon says she didn’t know at the time.
Cantwell says she got therapy at the church. (agrees) and she saw a certified trauma therapist. he asks if they were prepared to give assistance. He asks if they were were wearing red bandannas. She says the medic who got her to the church was wearing a red bandanna. she does not recall seeing anyone change clothes in the church.
Muniz recounts some other events since the attack. He reconfirms that she has a fear of white vans. Cantwell concludes.
Judge Moon releases the jury until 9AM Friday – the plaintiffs suggest working on scheduling after they leave – for a few minutes before 5pm.
Plaintiffs talk about damages witnesses; Schoep would be called tomorrow (NSM leader). 2 witnesses Kessler and Cantwell. Discussion about only calling them once to save time. They can cross examine Kessler. They’d keep case open for Kessler and Cantwell to testify
Cantwell objects to keeping case open for that, the other defense attorneys seem fine with the plaintiff plan it appears.
Plaintiffs say there may be time in the day tomorrow for defense to call witnesses. still undecided but they want notice tonite for it. Kessler will not be around until Monday – Moon says they will call on someone on that side (probably on Friday he alludes).
The judge leaves and court proceedings are done for today – check out our landing page for more context.
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