Sines v. Kessler Rush Transcript – Day 4: Opening Arguments

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.

Official Court Transcript [Courtesy: Integrity First For America] [Click HERE to Download .PDF]


Additional Resources via Integrity First For America: Trial & Deposition Video TranscriptsSearchable 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.

Unite The Right On Trial:

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 4 – Oct 28, 2021 (Collected from this tweet thread)

Day 4 of the Sines v Kessler civil suit trial against the Charlottesville ‘Unite The Right’ rally organizers is getting underway now – Judge Norman Moon is giving jury instructions before opening arguments begin.

Judge Moon reminds the jury that they must decide the case based only on the evidence and law/jury instructions. He also mentions that the concept ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ applies to criminal law and not a civil case such as this.

This reporter noted that on his way into court today defendant Richard Spencer had what seemed to be a stuffed triceratops in a bag with him. Asked by someone else in line he said it was his “emotional support animal”

Defendant Chris Cantwell (Cantwell and Spencer are both representing themselves) unsuccessfully tried to get Judge Moon to forbid mention of the leaked Unite The Right Discord chats from opening arguments – Cantwell is the only defendant who hasn’t agreed the chats are authentic

You can check out our reporting on the Charlottesville Unite The Right #DiscordLeaks here.

The #DiscordLeaks database itself is also public here. (NOTE: many of the chat data sets have been added since the Charlottesville chats for other, related reporting that doesn’t strictly always involved the same groups/ppl)

Judge Moon’s lengthy jury instructions are still being given, reminding jurors they can’t communicate or post online at all about the trial

Moon is going over the nature of the conspiracy allegations in the case conspiracy is a partnership of two of more people for an illegal purpose “in which each member is a partner with every other member”

Judge Moon says some members of the alleged conspiracy must have taken an “overt act” in furtherance of the conspiracy – “an overt act may be an act which is entirely innocent when considered alone… but is in service of some object of the conspiracy…”

Judge Moon going over discovery rules now, both sides are entitled to all relevant evidence etc.

Judge Moon says he founds defendants Eliott Kline (Eli Mosley), Robert Ray, Vanguard America and National Socialist Movement and Matthew Heimbach “failed to comply with their discovery obligations and as a result I will issue appropriate sanctions as to each of them…”

Judge Moon tells the jury that the sanctions against those defendants shouldn’t necessarily impact their views towards the other defendants.

Jury selection may be winding down now, Moon is going over rules that jurors can’t discuss the case with friends or family, watch any news about the case or try to research the case outside of court etc.

Plaintiffs in Sines v. Kessler are about to begin opening arguments. Judge Moon says he will likely interrupt them to take a break. Karen Dunn and Roberta Kaplan will be doing opening arguments for the plaintiffs – Dunn first and then Kaplan will finish

Karen Dunn begins opening arguments for the Sines plaintiffs by introducing herself to the jury and explaining the purpose of the opening statement – “for us to give you a sense of what the case is about…and what the evidence is going to show” warns of graphic evidence

“This case is about violence and intimidation that was planned for months and culminated in” August 11-12, 2017 in Charlottesville. She plays a clip of neo-nazis chanting “Jews will not replace us” at the August 11 torch rally.

An audio issue quickly pops up where sound isn’t playing with the video, then, sound plays but no video. Pause

“On August 11-12 of 2017, hundreds of white nationalists from around the county came to Charlottesville… they met up in darkness on UVA’s college campus… they chanted ‘you will not replace us’, “jews will not replace us’ and ‘Blood and Soil’, a phrase… from Nazi Germany

Dunn describes the neo-nazis on August 11 surrounding and attacking student counter-protesters, macing and physically attacking them, screaming racial slurs at them, and “throwing unidentified liquid at them while holding lit tiki torches.”

More torch rally video is played, apparently without the audio working again (at least in court’s media room where video is often cutting out or improperly displaying)

Dunn says Richard Spencer emailed his listserv on August 11 telling his followers that August 11 “was only the prequel”…

Dunn says that on August 12, “white nationalists came prepared to commit violence.. they carried riot gear, they marched in formation…. they carried shields that they later used to break through the counter-protesters… they carried flagpoles that they used to beat people”

Dunn starts to play video of the car attack but asks for a moment to address A/V issues as the court is still apparently unable to play these videos with the sound playing.

Judge Moon declares a 20 minute break for the court to address its A/V issues (which seem honestly fairly severe by our observations inside the courthouse thus far)

Morning Break

Some kind of jazz type music cuts in on the court feed over top of side convos happening in court recess as the AV tech apparently does some troubleshooting

Opening arguments by Karen Dunn for the plaintiffs in Sines v. Kessler are beginning again now – in the media room provided by the court, we can now hear the proceedings but the video monitor provided by the court has gone dark.

Dunn is replaying the video from the August 11 torch rally – the video comes up but again plays with video showing without any sound playing. Judge Moon stops again to try to address the courthouse’s repeated inability to play their evidence files

Dunn is now again playing video from the August 11 torch rally – we can’t see the video in the media room but it clearly includes neo-nazis calling people racial slurs as they attacked the counter-protesters

Dunn is now playing the video of the deadly car attack on August 12 where Heather Heyer was killed. The media room now has an audio feed but the video monitor is showing us no video at all now

Dunn tells the jury how James Alex Fields, after marching with Vanguard America and carrying a Vanguard shield, got into his Dodge Challenger and intentionally drove his car into a crowd, “killing Heather Heyer and injuring many of the plaintiffs in this case”

Karen Dunn: “we represent people like Marcus Martin… the evidence will show that Marcus was directly hit by the car… his leg was shattered when he pushed his fiancee Marissa Blair out of the way of the car…”

…” we represent people like Natalie Romero…Natalie had just returned from her first year of college at UVA when she was hit by the car… it lacerated her face… and forever changed her life…

everyday when she wakes up and looks at her face she is reminded about a nightmare that she can never forget…”

Exhibits are displaying in the media room again, showing photos and names of the plaintiffs – currently on screen are Marcus Martin, Marissa Blair, Reverend Seth Wispelwey and Natalie Romero

Dunn says the defendants “planned this violence and thought they would get away with it…” and thanks the jurors for taking time away from their lives to serve 0- “you are the finders of fact in this case – the verdict in this case will be your verdict and your verdict along…

[the plaintiffs] are going to ask you to hold the defendants accountable…”- Dunn

Dunn tells the jury that Judge Moon will instruct them to find whether or not the defendants conspired to commit racial violence in violation of the law

Dunn pulls up a text exchange between Cantwell and Spencer:

Cantwell: “I’m willing to risk a lot for our cause, including violence and incarceration but i want to coordinate and make sure it’s worth it for our cause”

Spencer: It’s worth it, at least for me

Dunn: the defendants’ own communications will show that the violence in this case was planned ahead of time and celebrated after the fact

Dunn says the plaintiffs “aren’t suing the hundreds of white supremacists” who came to rally – saying plaintiffs don’t contest the First Amendment rights of most of those who were there that day.

“The plaintiffs in this case only sued the leaders and organizers who planned the violence and the most violent foot soldiers who carried out… our case is about the planning, executing, and celebration of racially motivated violence…” – Dunn

“Many of the defendants wanted to build a white ethnostate, a country of only white people, and that could only occur with a violent race war…” Dunn says defendants talked of “the battle of Charlottesville”

Dunn is going over Judge Moon’s instructions re: conspiracy. The evidence monitor now shows Elliot Kline (Eli Mosley), Jason Kessler and a third person (we can’t tell bc evidence exhibits are displaying improperly in media room monitor with a lot of the image cut off)

“Even an informal agreement may be sufficient” to prove conspiracy, Dunn tells the jury.

“By it’s very nature a conspiracy is clandestine and covert thereby frequently resulting in little evidence… plaintiffs can therefore rely on circumstantial evidence” such as association over time, attitude, and conduct

“If a person understands the unlawful nature of a plan or scheme and knowingly joins… on one occasion.. that is enough to join the conspiracy…” – Dunn

“The conspiracy in this case began when Jason Kessler.. reached out to… Richard Spencer, Eliott Kline/Eli Mosley, and Matthew Heimbach”.. Dunn says Kessler knew Spencer “would help attract an army for the Battle of Charlottesville”

Dunn said Kessler “asked Heimbach to invite violent skinhead groups to the event and Mr. Heimbach complied”

Dunn says Richard Spencer authorized Eliott Kline/Eli Mosley to make decision on his behalf and Spencer/Kline worked full time to plan the rally.

The evidence exhibit view is now showing a box w the logo of Identity Evropa below Eliott Kline (linking him to another person not showing on media room screen yet)

Dunn: “Mr. Kline and Mr. Kessler worked full time to plan the events of August 11-12. Mr. Kline brought along his white nationalist Identity Evropa and had weekly calls w Identity Evropa’s founder, defendant Nathan Damigo”. Says IE known for recruiting at colleges

Dunn says Heimbach worked with Matt Parrot (also of TWP) and says Parrott later encouraged “anyone associated with Charlottesville” to destroy evidence

Dunn says Heimbach reached out to League of the South… Dunn reads a post from Michael Hill (League leader) in which he says “I pledge to be a white supremacist…”

Dunn described Kline reaching out to Vanguard America – “James Fields… has admitted that he was ‘inspired’ by Richard Spencer and others to go to the battle of Charlottesville… on the day of the car attack he marched w Vanguard America…”

Dunn says Vangurad America leaders Dillon Hopper and Thomas Rousseau also had communications w Eliott Kline. Says Jeff Schoep, longtime leader of the National Socialist Movement, offered Kessler “men who were battle tested in the streets”

Dunn says NSM, VA, LoS and TWP and their leaders “formed an alliance called the Nationalist Front to further their common cause and plan”

Dunn says Christopher Cantwell is “a white nationalist” “known for advocating violence on his podcast…the evidence will show Mr. Kline, who wrote for the neo-nazi website Daily Stormer, wanted to involve more from the Stormer including Robert ‘Azzmador’ Ray” Dunn says Ray travelled to Cville from TX w/ Thomas Rousseau

Dunn says the defendants inspired people like Ben Daley and Vasilis Pistolis who committed violence at Unite The Right and when deposed invoked their rights to not incriminate themselves

Dunn says defendants held weekly planning calls, communicated via Discord chats and social media, phone calls and texts and “celebrated each other’s racially motivated violence”

Plaintiffs’ evidence display now shows a web of connections between all the defendants mentioned

“Defendants planned the conspiracy mostly through private channels…” pulls up an May 17, 2017 email from Michael Hill, leader of League of the South w “an official call for resistance”… “

“I want no discussion anywhere else” of plans for Aug 12, those “will be handled through secure channels.” – Hill

“defendants never intended their communications to see the light of day” – Dunn

Dunn is going over the Discord chats used to plan the violence in Charlottesville, saying the chats were unexpectedly leaked shortly before this case was filed. Dunn is explaining what “channels” and “servers” mean on Discord

“‘Charlottesville 2.0’ wasn’t the only server where this planning went on but it was one of the main server…”

” Most of the groups who were defendants in this case had their own channel in this case… Identity Evropa, League of the South, Traditionalist Worker Party and Vanguard America”

Dunn says that to understand Cville we have to go back to April 2017 in Berkeley, CA – shows defendant Nathan Damigo punching a woman counter-protester in the face during the so-called ‘Battle of Berkeley’.

After the ‘Battle of Berkeley’ in April 2017, Dunn shows, Richard Spencer said “We have entered a new world. We have entered a world of political violence and I don’t think anything’s going to be the same.”

Dunn is explaining ‘Charlottesville 1.0’ when some of the defendants gathered on May 13, 2017 and held a torch march just like they would in August and where Spencer talked about a meme where he was “born at the right time for the race war”

Dunn mentions a private afterparty on May 13 after Spencer’s speech where “defendants Kline, Spencer, and Heimbach engaged in a chant of Seig Heil”

Video of the seig heil-ing is played but again the audio on the video isn’t working for some reason

The audio of the seig heil-ing on May 13 was just played but the video did not display with the audio. Its a sound of a group of people chanting while others cheer them on.

Dunn says the defendants “didn’t know this video was being taken.. what they say and do behind closed doors tells us a lot about their motives…”

Dunn pulls up a June 5 2017 text exchange between Kessler and Spencer mentions promoting August 12. Kessler tells Spencer “we’re raising an army my liege, for free speech, but for the cracking of skulls if it comes to it”

Dunn pulls up Discord exchange between Matthew Heimbach & Dillon Hopper:

Heimbach: so basically we’ve got all of the real orgs in America together…

Hopper: now all we need is Spencer and Damigo

Heimbach: well this is where Charlottesville comes in. We’re all doing it together

Dunn: while we expect at this trial the defendants will all point the finger at one another… there will be no question that at the time, they were all doing it together

Dunn: On June 5, Eliott Kline committed to Jason Kessler that he would commit to the roll out

Kline to Kessler: you and I should commit to speaking daily now, now that this is my full time job…

Kline posted on Discord: “I’ve been working heavily w VA guys for a while now and we should have a conference w leadership…” sometime soon. Dunn pulls up a photo showing Eliott Kline standing near James Fields w VA shield and uniform

(Video feed in the courthouse media room is dead except for audio btw – no visual access to exhibits right now)

“Defendants came to Cville w a plan.. for religious and racial haterd…Mr. Kline refers to himself as the Judenator. That means Jew-hunter.. you will learn, incredibly, that Mr. Kline’s real job at the time was an exterminator…”

Kline’s gf at the time will tell the court that Kline “wanted to kill Jews instead of cockroaches”, Dunn says

Dunn pulls up a TWP message to members: “we need to scare these people, and the way to do that is w numbers and determination.. we need to send a message to the Jewish oligarchs and their minions…”

Letter is from Heimbach and ends w an exhortation to TWP members to attend Unite The Right in Charlottesville

Dunn pulls up Cantwell podcast clip: “It’s not that I do hate Black people… it’s that they’re. a problem to me… they’re a threat to my existence… and I will do what is necessary to stop that from happening”

Dunn pulls up Michael Hill (League of the South leader) tweet : “If you want to defend the south and western civilization from the Jew and his western allies, be at Charlottesville on 12 August”

Dunn mentions James Alex Fields admitting in court that he believed white people to be superior, was inspired by Hitler, etc.

“Plaintiffs are not going to…lack evidence of a racially motivated conspiracy in this case…”

“Not only did plaintiffs and their co-conspirators discuss violence… they specifically discussed plans for violence… they knew they couldn’t openly discuss physical weaponry” so they discussed using mace, fists, flag poles, a car for “plausible deniability” – Dunn

Dunn says “evidence will show defendants .. called [mace] ‘gas'” “as a reference to Hitler killing Jews”

Dunn pulls up a Discord post from Dillon Hopper saying “gas the kikes race war now” and that Robert ‘Azzmador’ Ray uses the same language later… ” I just got done w the event organizers.. and feel better now.. the plan is the same, gas the kikes”

Dunn: “defendants also planned for street brawls as a tool of violence. You will see Eli Kline/Eli Mosely said “I think we are going to see some serious brawls on Charlottesville… and will see blood on some of those white polos LOL”

Dunn explains the white polos were the dress code for Unite The Right

“The conspiracy planned to use flagpoles as tools of violence” – Dunn pulls up a post by Michael Chesny aka ‘Tyrone’ on Discord where ppl discuss “impaling people is always the best option tbh” and ppl discuss flagpoles that could “double as spears”

Dunn now mentioning Discord posts that discussed using shields as weapons. ‘Azzmador’ wrote “I couldn’t possibly be more proud of you guys or happier the way these shields turn out, I will be both elated and happy to stand w you men and address the media and fight…scum…”

Dunn discussing the conspiracy discussing car attacks ahead of time – 9 months before Unite The Right, Matt Heimbach posted “Leftist protesters blocking the road…. # hitthegas”

Cantwell: “blocking traffic is not peaceful protest and every single person who reminds you of that without using his car is giving you more slack.. than you deserve”

Dunn: Michael Chesny aka ‘Tryone’ posted on Discord a fake advertisement for a tractor-like “four lane protester digestor” and said “sure would be nice”

Dunn pulls up posts from James Alex Fields before Unite The Right in which he advocated running over protesters with a car, Dunn says the posts are “eerily similar” to the car attack Fields ended up carrying out.

Dunn shifts from discussing the “planning” of the violence to the “execution of the violence”, pulls up a map of UVA campus (media room still cannot see any exhibits or video from the court room at all)

Dunn describes August 11 torch rally attendees gathering “under cover of darkness” at Nameless Field at University of Virginia campus, says Kessler & Spencer both went to UVA so they knew the area.

Says they took a less direct, “more winding route” through campus to deliberately pass many campus buildings and the lawn where students and faculty live, considered the heart of campus, to then arrive at the Jefferson statue

Dunn describes 200-500 white nationalists surrounding about 20 students and counter-protesters, including several of the plaintiffs

Dunn is showing more August 11 torch rally photos now but the court-provided video feed in the media room is still totally dark so the press pool can’t see any of these

Dunn says the photo shows Christopher Cantwell, Robert ‘Azzmador’ Ray and others engaging in the attack by the statue – shows Cantwell and Ray macing the surrounded students… “members of the conspiracy did not walk away from the violence, they embraced it… they celebrated it”

Dunn pulls up a tweet from Jason Kessler where he calls the torch rally attack “an incredible moment for white people.” Dunn says James Fields retweeted a David Duke tweet celebrating the violence

Text from Eliott Kline to Jason Kessler 11:15 PM August 11: “Great work, rest easy”
Kessler to Kline: “You’ve done excellent work too, let’s knock this out of the park tomorrow”

Dunn now shifts to discussing details of August 12, 2017, the layout of Emancipation Park (formerly Lee Park) and how some defendants met up at Mcintire Park and others met up at the Market Street Parking Garage before marching to the park.

“Members of both groups coordinated between each other throughout the day” – Dunn

Dunn pulls up a video (which again due to court AV failures we cannot see at all in the media room) showing Eliott Kline (Eli Mosley) directing the first group of attendees into the park

Dunn describes seeing “Eli Kline leading men whose fists are taped up like boxers” and that “as predicted in the Discord… you will actually see blood on the white polos, including his”

Dunn pulls up a photo of Ben Daley of the neo-nazi group Rise Above Movement. Says that Daley when asked in deposition if he choked and punched a woman that day, invoked his right not to incriminate himself

Dunn describes a video of Heimbach telling the group w shields “shields up” – “you will see that shields were used as weapons and not for protection”

video playing now of the group w shields violently charging into counter-protesters (video screen in media is still totally black)

Dunn says that Vasillios Pistolis, seen attacking people in the shield charge, invoked his right not to incriminate himself when deposed and asked about his involvement

Dunn is now playing a video of the brutal beating of Deandre Harris in the Market street parking garage, League of the South leader Michael Tubbs is seen in the video watching Harris be beaten. Media room can’t see the video

Dunn mentions a post from National Socialist Movement leader Jeff Schoep – “it was an honor to stand with you all in Charlottesville this weekend” and positively mentioning various groups involved

“The League of the South had a good day today in Charlottesville… our men acquitted themselves as warriors…” – post from Michael Hill, League of the South

post from Cantwell celebrates “commies” “bleeding” and “being sent to the morgue”

Dunn says defendants “celebrated the car attack”, shows a post from Cantwell that says “this is what democracy look like” showing a picture of the car attack.

Dunn mentions Cantwell and other defendants calling James Fields in jail, sending him letters, cards, and money in solidarity

Dunn mentions a tweet by Jason Kessler calling the killing of Heather Heyer in the car attack “payback time” 6 days later after Unite The Right

Dunn tells the jury they will be able to “consider that there was evidence that you can’t see.. in this case there was evidence that went missing, or fell in the toilet, literally, like Jeff Schoep’s phone..”

8 of the defendants in this case destroyed or failed to produce evidence… defendant Matthew Parrott… posted…encouraging everyone involved in Charlottesville to destroy evidence’ – Dunn

Dunn says Vanguard America “produced no materials in this litigation”. Asks if its believable if a group w an entire discord channel in the Cville 2.0 server “had no documents relevant to this case”

Dunn says Professor Peter Simi will give expert testimony that “defendants used strategy of plausible deniability” such as “doublespeak… they talked in code, and Professor Simi will help you decode… they used humor… so that later they could say… we were just joking…”

Dunn says the defendants engaged in “front stage/back stage communication” and intentionally created some communication records to imply non-violent intentions

Dunn: after you see all the evidence in this case, that strategy is going to leap off the page.

Dunn also mentions “the tactic of baiting and provoking targets to attack” aka “triggering”

Dunn pulls up Discord posts w this strategy:

Jason Kessler, July 11: “If Bellamy shows up, we talk shit and try to trigger a chimpout”

Robert Ray, August 3: “I’m looking forward to BLM more than antifa… blacks are the easiest people to trigger…”
Dunn says these posts are “just the tip of the iceberg”

“… like a racist joke that everyone laughs at because it’s true…the unindoctrinated should not be able to tell if we’re joking or not…” – Daily Stormer style guide

“So if you hear defendants say that they don’t really mean” it… “you will see the evidence yourself that shows you that that is what they meant bc that’s what actually happen…We expect that when the defendants stand up here today they are going to continue this strategy of plausible deniability…” – Dunn

Dunn uses the example of Richard Spencer speaking in a leaked recording taken after the August 11 torch march:

“We’re coming back here like a fucking hundred times… we’re gonna… ritualistically humiliate them.. this is never over.. I win, they fucking lose…little fucking kikes, they get ruled by people like me… fucking enslave those pieces of shit, those pieces of shit get ruled by ppl like me, they look up and see a face like mine looking down at them…that is how this world works…we are going to destroy this fucking town…” – Spencer audio

Karen Dunn w the plaintiffs is done now, plantiffs’ attorney Roberta Kaplan is finishing up plaintiffs’ side opening arguments now.

Court media room video feed is still totally dead, audio only available due to the court apparently being unprepared for technical matters involved

Roberta Kaplan is naming the plaintiffs one by one saying she will describe their connection to events in this case

Natalie Romero had just finished her first year at UVA and got married 10 years before Unite The Right. Devin Willis had worked as a university tour guide and was involved in student groups

Natalie Romero and Devin Willis were at a dinner the night of August 11 and heard that the neo-nazis were heading to the Jefferson statute at UVA so joined other students holding a banner saying “UVA students against white supremacy”

Romero and Willis held hands w other students and chanted “no nazis, no KKK, no fascist USA” in front of the statue. Sounds like Kaplan just played our livestream footage showing that happening but we can’t be sure since the court media room’s video feed is still not working

Kaplan says the students had their backs to the Jefferson statue with their head down, says “you can see Natalie and Devin around the statue” and they’re “trapped against the Jefferson statue”

Kaplan describes UVA students of color “face to face” w torch bearing nazis who called them slurs. Kaplan says Devin Willis believed he was going to die that night, and was soon kicked and punched repeatedly, they were pepper sprayed

“After the defendants attacked Natalie and Devin, they celebrated” – Roberta Kaplan

Kaplan is introducing Charlottesville local and Reverend Seth Wispelwey, who was at St. Paul’s church, across the street from the Jefferson statue at UVA that night

“From inside the church, Seth and the other congregants heard the chant “jews will not replace us” from across the street” – Kaplan

Kaplan shows a picture (which media room still can’t see due to court tech fails) of those gathered inside the church looking terrified

Kaplan is introducing plaintiff Elizabeth Sines, a UVA law student who went to the torch rally when she heard what was happening on her campus, took some video of torch marchers on her iphone

Kaplan says that “although the video she took on her video was dark, Liz then watched” nazis “grab and drag” students out of the crowd by the statue in order to kick them and beat them with tiki torches

Sines’ video is playing but the media room can’t see it, the monitor in here is totally black

Kaplan says that other witnesses to be called in the case will attest to violence at the torch rally

Kaplan – “August 12 started out as more of the same but then became far worse”

Kaplan says that Natalie and Devin “each had second thoughts… but decided to go bc they were determined to show solidarity with their friends…”

Kaplan is going over the beginning of events on August 12 – says Devin Willis was assaulted again when nazis who gathered in the Market street parking garage broke through a crowd of counter-protesters charging w shields.

Natalie Romero was also assaulted by a group of nazis that morning and thrown onto a car. Kaplan: “sadly that was not the only physical contact she would have with a car that day”

Kaplan describes plaintiff Seth Wispelwey lining up w other clergy w arms linked and being charged and attacked by Unite The Right rally goes who spit on them, hit them and yelled “kill the fggt priests”

Kaplan describes another plaintiff, Chelsea Alvarado, attending counter-protests on August 12, bringing a drum with her. Chelsea marched w others including plaintiff April Muniz- a former peace corp volunteer who came on August 12 “to document what was happening in her community”

April Muniz was part of a crowd in the early afternoon “celebrating because they mistakenly believed the white nationalists were out of town.” Kaplan now also describing Marcus Martin and his then-fiancee Marissa Blair, who worked at the same law firm as Heather Heyer.

“Marcus, Marissa, Heather and their friends were on water streets.. they believed that the white supremacists were out of town and felt an overwhelming sense of relief”.

Video playing now (which media room can’t see since court AV is all messed up) features the sounds of a jubilant celebrating crowd. Kaplan says the video shows Heather Heyer marching with the crowd

Kaplan mentions Charlottesville resident Thomas Baker, who went downtown and eventually ended up joining the celebrating group marching on Water street around 1:41 PM

Kaplan also describes Liz Sines joining the crowd marching down Water Street around 1:41 PM, when “defendant James Fields paused for a moment in a gray 2010 Dodge Challenger… he then stepped on the gas… just like in the tweet Karen [Dunn] showed you from Matt Heimbach…” … he plowed into the crowd”, narrowly missing some plaintiffs “by the grace of god” and hitting others and killing Heather Heyer.

Kaplan shows a pic of Natalie Romero after the attack and says Romero described wondering if she would ever walk again and still struggles to walk, and w memory & attention.

Kaplan describes Romero’s extremely intensive ongoing medical recovery process – she still has scars on her face

Kaplan describes Chelsea Alvarado still wearing the drum at the time she was hit by the car – the car hit the drum, throwing her backwards, causing scrapes and bruises in the pattern of the drum. She was concussed and still has brain damage

Kaplan shows a pic of Chelsea’s drum next to ” a pool of Natalie’s blood” – the court still hasn’t fixed the media room video screen so we cannot see any of the exhibits as was promised.

Kaplan is describing a picture that shows Marcus Martin’s shoe stuck in the grill of James Fields’ car as he drove away.

More video of the car attack and aftermath is being played – we can hear the sounds of Marissa Blair realizing she can’t locate Marcus Martin and calling out his name over the sounds of screams of pain and panic in the background

Kaplan pauses the video to say “Marissa finally found Marcus on the ground unable to move” and got him to an ambulance. Says Martin’s leg was totally crushed and he and Marissa later learned at the hospital that their friend Heather Heyer had been killed.

Kaplan shows a pic of Thomas Baker, saying he “first heard screaming and loud thumps.. those thumps turned out to be the sound of other bodies hitting the car”.

Kaplan describes Baker being hit by the car and thrown into the air, describes his injuries and shows his pic in the hospital, he had “cuts and bruises all over his body” and it hurt for him even to lay down for many months

“Today Thomas walks w a limp and struggles w chronic pain, he cannot run or play sports anymore and has been told he’ll need a hip replacement in the future” and “every time he sees a car go by… he suffers from flashbacks from August 12” – Kaplan

Roberta Kaplan describes plaintiff April Muniz barely missing getting hit and going into a state of shock, “her mental health has suffered tremendously as a result of what she experienced on August 12”

Kaplan is now showing video to show what Elizabeth Sines “experienced in real time that day” – showing the car attack and her reaction

Sines “struggled to record that video but wanted to make sure that people…saw the truth of what happened that day….since August 12 Liz has had insomnia, panic attacks… the trauma impacts her significantly and financially…”

Kaplan describes the aftermath of the scene of the attack and the plaintiffs either being taken to the hospital or helping at the scene

“It will be very difficult for the plaintiffs.. to recount what happen but they will be describing some of the worst of what happens” – Kaplan tells the jury that the defendants planned, executed and celebrated the violence

Kaplan mentions the defense will likely paint the plaintiffs as a “violent members of antifa” but describes them as peaceful protesters seeking justice

Kaplan says the plaintiffs have been waiting for trial for 4 years and “continue to carry with them the pain and trauma.. .of what happened on August 11 and 12 2017… while this case is about violence and hatred it is also about justice and accountability

…accountability for those who planned and celebrated the violence.. and justice for the plaintiffs who lost so much… they evidence you will see in the next few weeks will be overwhelming…

by the end it will be clear the defendants conspired to carry out racially motivated violence and devastated the lives of our clients.” -Roberta Kaplan

The plaintiff’s opening arguments are done now, Judge Moon calls a lunch break until 1:15 PM at which point the defense will make their opening arguments.

Lunch Break

Judge Norman K. Moon is back at his bench as the defense is about to begin their opening arguments. Sounds like James Kolenich (counsel for Jason Kessler, Nathan Damigo and Identity Evropa) is going first.

The court may have had some success fixing the AV issues in the media room feed, we’ll see!

James Kolenich (Kessler, Damigo, Identity Evropa) is beginning his opening arguments now. “This case… is a conspiracy case. The plaintiffs want you to believe and find that anybody who had anything to do w the Unite The Right leadership conspired to damage them…at no point will you hear Jason Kessler, Nathan Damigo or Identity Evropa claim the plaintiffs were not injured”… Kolenich stresses his clients are separate from the other defendants and “not responsible for what the other leaders of Unite The Right chose to do…”

Kolenich says “antifa is a big part of this case…because they don’t like Jason Kessler… they don’t like what they call fascists or nazis… you’re going to learn that my clients, the things they advocate… are not likeable.. but that is 100 percent legally irrelevant…”

Kolenich leaning into a First Amendment defense, saying 1A should always protect the most reprehensible speech

Kolenich says Kessler and Damigo were planning “A political rally.” “they were planning for the possiblity of violence…but what violence were they planning for? The violence of antifa…. antifascists go wherever the alt-right goes… and they are not afraid to use violence…”

Kolenich says that Damigo punched the woman shown in the Berkeley photo bc she was allegedly attacking people with a bottle, points out that Damigo was not charged by Berkeley police “even though the whole world knows that he did it”

“This case is about… the First Amendment right to say whatever you want… these people… express opinions of utterly ridiculous things…they were trying to put together an alt-right rally that could not be beaten down by these antifa…

“Jason Kessler was scared… he was afraid of his event being ruined but also of his own person being assaulted… he worked with the police… to protect his event… he got a permit… he did not sneak into Cville… he begged the police to protect his event…” – Kolenich

“…this was not the Charlottesville police’s finest day… and the evidence will show the community blamed the police…. yes in a sense Kessler has some moral responsibility… but all the damage… was not forseeable to Mr. Kessler…

…he could not have known that this out-of-towner…was going to run into a crowd of people… Nathan Damigo could not have known…” – Kolenich

“The plaintiffs must prove to you that my clients intended to find and hunt down and hurt some persons… at no point will you hear my clients claim that these plaintiffs are antifa..they are innocent victims that were caught in between the antifa and the alt right…” – Kolenich

“Rhetoric, language is protected…conspiracy is an agreement, you have to have made some agreement w other members of the conspiracy to do the general thing that was done… if you agree to yell at people… to insult them… if you agree to spit in their face…

how is that an agreement to kill someone… there is a giant chasm… between what Kessler and Damigo agreed to …. and what happened to the defendants….

Kolenich says at trial there will be additional defenses presented during trial about Identity Evropa. Repeats at end of his opening that Kessler & Damigo aren’t responsible

Next to deliver opening arguments is Richard Spencer, who is representing himself Pro Se

Spencer: “Anyone need only say words Charlottesville, Unite The Right… in order to evoke very strong emotions… quite a bit of pain, disappointment, regret on all sides of the issue… I have certain regrets about being involved in the rally, I have learned certain lessons…”

“…emotions have subsided and we are in a position to re-examine the matter… and apply the law accurately and fairly… the purpose of an opening statement is to tell you what the case is all about… I should tell you what the case is not about…

… the Charlottesville rally raises many Qs for all of us… about highly controversial, sometimes stupid and discussing speech & how dissidents should be treated… issues about policing & the right of protesters and counter-protesters and the duties of authorities..” – Spencer

Spencer: “This case and this process is not about Robert E. Lee… it is not about my extremely controversial though sincerely held beliefs which I imagine most of you disagree with… this case is not about… the stupid ramblings and insults of the alt-right…

… this case isn’t even about who is ultimately responsible for the chaos and violence that occurred across Charlottesville… some things in life are black in white… this question is quite grey…

…. the Charlottesville rally… that I agreed to attend and speak at at the invitation of Jason Kessler, was preempted… as state of emergency was declared before a single person took the stage… the park was evacuated by the police…

I was pushed and maced by the police… all sides were funnelled together onto Market Street…almost as if creating chaos was the objective…” – Spencer

Spencer: I doubt the plaintiffs will say this but it is implied that you’re either on the side of the angels or the devil incarnate, bad old Richard Spencer and the nazis… no, your decision is about the application of the law… you are here to… apply the law…

…deciding on my behalf means nothing about your opinions about my beliefs… you can go out and bash me on Twitter when all this is done… and you might – Spencer

“This case is about something that is difficult in society…to defend the rights of someone you vehemently disagree with… to defend the indefensible, to treat someone who you might find despicable with fairness, to give a bad guy a fair shake, that’s hard…” -Spencer

“This case is about whether… i was involved in a malign conspiracy…to deny civil rights… in the plaintiffs view this wasn’t about a statue… this wasn’t about the thing the planners worked on for months… all that was a ruse or bait…” – Spencer

Spencer: I myself was not involved in the logistical planning of the rally

Spencer: I don’t deny the plaintiffs have been injured and suffered

Spencer: since August 2017, I have not been charged by the police or FBI on any charge related to this matter… I certainly could have been detained or charged by the police on August 12… they have not..

Judge interrupts Spencer to say it’s not relevant if anyone was arrested

Spencer is going into the details about the part of the federal code the civil rights violations alleged in the lawsuit are contained under – “tough talk by me, bold words, that is simply not enough. We had to be aware that someone was going to commit these acts..”

Spencer: plaintiffs will present things that are shocking, sometimes embarrassing, but nothing that will prove I entered into a conspiracy to deny civil rights… we can conspire to host a rally of a highly controversial nature… and I certainly was involved in that…

Spencer calls Kessler’s comment about “cracking skulls” “childish” “tough talk” and says it doesn’t meet the plaintiff’s claims

Spencer claims he had “no correspondence” w 14 of the defendants named in the case…”sporadic correspondence i had with other defendants…never involved the denial of civil rights or an attempt to injure someone… this assertion…is not grounded in evidence beyond tough talk”

Spencer says Kessler was “an acquaintance” and “not a friend”… “we participated in 7 phone calls totaling 27 minutes”

Spencer also calls Cantwell “an acquaintance and not a friend”… “we ate lunch one time”… “Nathan Damigo and Eli Mosley… were friends of mine… very little of our communications were… about Charlottesville… or violating civil rights…”

Spencer says he had one call w Heimbach, no contact with League of the South, didn’t even know Jeff Schoep was involved until he got served with the lawsuit

Spencer: Kessler was the chief organizer of UTR and is a critical figure in determining if any sort of malignant conspiracy existed… he aspired to be a spokesperson for the alt-right… initial promotions for the rally did not include me as a speaker…

Spencer says he only agreed to speak at the rally after a permit was obtained and Kessler promised full cooperation with the police

Spencer: I knew that if I was there antifa would want to come, antifa had attacked my physically on multiple occasions and I was wary of that… but I was excited to go to a rally that was clearly getting interest from the whole alt-right movement… excited to feel like a star

Spencer is now listing off his different speaking events at colleges and how antifa and counter-protesters would show up but “nothing like Charlottesville occurred… what was unique about this one? Certainly not my involvement.. what was unique… was the policing strategy…”

Spencer: “that is what directly led to the chaos…that strategy of the police is what is ultimately responsible for the suffering and injury of the plaintiffs…”

Spencer: “I was physically harmed in Charlottesville, I have been attacked regularly in broad daylight… the plaintiffs played one clip from a podcast in which i said we are now living in an age of political violence. I meant that, and that was true.”

Spencer pulls up a tweet with a GIF of himself getting punched in the face on January 20, 2017

Spencer pulls up New York Times article about “is it OK to punch a Nazi?” with a picture of himself at the top

“When I said we are entering a realm of political violence this is what I am referring to…”

Spencer: “I myself did not carry a shield, I did not carry a flag, I did not carry anything resembling a weapon outside of a pocketknife… but I understand why many who attended desired to do so.. thought ‘if we do this thing… they’re gonna come after us…”

Spencer: By June of 2017 Discord had become a very popular discussion platform… on the alt-right… it became a kind of central hub for Unite The Right, it was the communication vehicle…there was in fact a leadership channel.. w Mr. Kessler designated as events coordinator..”

“… I did not participate whatsoever in the Charlottesville 2.0 Discord server whatsoever… this is made manifest by the Discord archive which you will see… I was absent from every leadership phone call on Discord and the planning sessions…” – Spencer

Spencer: “my role in this event was at least in terms of logistics, entirely dispensable. I was invited to speak, i brought my fame or infamy..I played no role whatsoever in.. planning the rally or any type of conspiracy to deny civil rights that potentially might have occured..”

Spencer calls the plaintiffs case “an attempt at lowering the bar”… “they will not show you anything that could be interpreted as… an order for violence or unlawful acts….”

Spencer: I am somehow liable for suffering by my mere presence at the event, by osmosis or something… that is not fair, that is not an accurate application of the law

Spencer: This case really is about speech, it’s about shutting down the most awful speech… and i’m sure there will be plenty of examples of that… It’s also an attempt to silence more idealistic and articulate speech…

Spencer: Supreme Justice Anthony Kennedy said ” a law that can be directed against speech found offensive to some portion of the public can be turned against… dissident.. views to the detriment of all..”

Spencer: this kind of logic can be used in all sorts of ways, it might…right now be used against people you don’t like… that same logic can be applied to all sorts of speech that is unpopular

Spencer discusses 2020 BLM/George Floyd protests, references vandalism and violence at protests

Judge Moon: Mr. Spencer you have to stick to the facts of this case

Spencer quotes poet Robert Burns, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”… “my best laid plans went awry”… “Charlottesville… might be a moral victory in the sense that we fought back in a difficult situation..but i see it as a tragedy or a learning experience..”

Spencer calls his leaked rant “shameful and embarrassing” – said he was frustrated bc everything had gone wrong for him on August 12 and he had “a bad feeling all around”

Spencer: the conspiracy to hold a controversial rally had been destroyed and i was immensely frustrated, that doesn’t sound like a person who had planned for any of these things to take place

Spencer: I am here on my own behalf, I represent myself… I remain agnostic about my codefendants and their status… you as the jury are tasked… to separate the defendants… the plaintiffs have tried to tie us all together in a kind of string board of a conspiracy…

Spencer: you have to look at my situation as it is and make a decision, was there a malign conspiracy to deny civil rights at all – if there was, you have to decide was Spencer a part of it

Spencer pulls up a screenshot (we can see exhibits in media room now) of a tweet he posted at 12:38 PM on August 12, 2017: “My recommendation: Disperse. Get out of Charlottesville city limits. State of emergency called.”

Spencer points out his tweet was sent before the car attack happened

Spencer: i was not in direct communication or countless other people who engaged in violence… Charlottesville went wrong, the authorities had declared a state of emergency, time to get the heck out of Dodge, that is the only context in which that tweet makes sense

Spencer escalated his volume to straight up yelling about how could he be a part of a conspiracy etc before bring his voice back down. Says he has been “disturbed” by the events “ever since”

Spencer is now waxing poetic about “concepts of justice”

Judge Moon tells Spencer he is getting “into argument now”, Spencer replies “this is a big picture thing”… Moon replies “I know its a big picture thing” but tells Spencer to stick to the details of the evidence and the law “not the bigger picture”

Spencer says he is trying to warn the jury about “not doing that”

Judge Moon says “I’ll warn them about that… ” and tells him to cut it out

Spencer talks about being invited to Unite The Right, the excitement in the alt-right that “it was clearly going to be something big”, says he issued “nothing approaching a directive to violence”… “you might see me in my worst moments” and “dislike me intensely”…

Spencer asks jurors to “resist any impulse to make this about anything other than the law, to make this about scapegoating or purging bad feelings… make this about whether a directed coordinated conspiracy actually existed.” END of Spencer’s opening now

Judge Moon reminds everyone to adhere to his rulings, and tells the jurors to disregard as “totally irrelevant… where persons were arrested or not”, says convictions or lack thereof “don’t decide a civil case… it’s an entirely different matter”

Judge Moon calls for a 15 min break. More defendants will make their opening arguments after the recess. Christopher Cantwell is the only other Pro Se (representing himself) defendant apart from Spencer

Afternoon Break

Judge Moon is back in court, says “one of the jurors handed the marshal a note and said do we have to make a judgement for or against each defendant individually?” Moon says he will issue that part of jury instructions again

Dunn (plaintiffs) ask Judge Moon to fold that reply to the note into general instructions later on since the timing could be misconstrued as supporting some of Richard Spencer’s arguments made just now before the break. Moon agrees to wait until end of the day

The jury isn’t all back in yet, but Christopher ‘Crying Nazi’ Cantwell is the next defendant to issue opening arguments. Cantwell is representing himself and is currently in prison for making threats against the wife of another neo-nazi in an attempt to extort information.

The jury is in, Cantwell is approaching the stand now to argue

Cantwell says “I’m not used to this stuff, I was really nervous about the jury selection thing… I think before were done here you’re gonna think I’m not just blowing smoke at yous” yes he said “yous”

Cantwell says the plaintiffs are trying to villify his politics, speculates that the jurors may have the “intellectual” bravery to “read Mein Kampf”. Cantwell is talking pretty fast and getting into some wacky stuff, called the plaintiffs’ case “Mother Jones-level” “nonsense”

Cantwell is citing legal stuff about self defense, says “the coercive laws of the state are in place to preserve our freedom.. I call this the order of liberty to preserve our civilization… the plaintiffs call it white supremacy… I will not run away from it”

Cantwell: “How does one go about Uniting The Right if you bother to think about it?… Do you Unite The Right through violent crime? No that would be nonsense. What is the main divide on the right? It’s race….

Cantwell: “…. there are some on the right who still take seriously the demonstrably false proposition that all men are created equal…” Cantwell cites autism etc as examples that equality is a false concept. He’s talking really fast and clearly very excited

Cantwell: If the people who wanna assault me over my political views call themselves a racial interest group… Black Lives Matter is openly Marxist and openly violent…what I’m talking about in terms of biological reality cannot be chang…Republicans need to stop avoiding accusations of racism…” Cantwell calls for “white people to grow some backbone and courage and stop fearing being called a racist…” and mentions anti-police signs at protests against Unite The Right 2… goes into some detail on this

Cantwell’s opening argument is very much like his podcasts and public appearances, a nonstop jumble of references to alt-right memes and nods to dogwhistle phrases

Cantwell: “the only time you heard plaintiffs mention antifa… was to deny any attachment to it.. that was a lie and that should really upset you… news flash that’s not how peaceful protest works…”

Cantwell is yelling about arson at protests last year but gets cut off by Judge Moon who tells him to stick to the facts of the case

Cantwell says he will be asking plaintiff Seth Wispelwey about the use of the phrase “community defense”

Cantwell: it’s painfully obvious that I’m not a lawyer but I don’t have a fool for a client…it’s civil court so I don’t have a right to a public defender and I can’t afford a lawyer…

Cantwell: I’m currently in federal prison because “my mouth gets me in a lot of trouble”

Cantwell: sometimes it’s gonna like like I don’t know what’s going on because I don’t

Cantwell: I did not conspire to commit racially motivated violence… or any of that other crap either

Cantwell: there are guys who have been convicted for conspiracy to riot (he’s referring to the Rise Above Members such as Ben Daley) but they’re conspicuously absent

Cantwell: the plaintiffs are gonna go through every nasty thing I’ve ever said and that’s why we’re gonna be here for so long… I’m a public entertainer… I’m very talented and good looking… I made a brief attempt at stand-up comedy…

Cantwell uses the n-word in open court when talking about an online interaction he had

Cantwell’s opening is turning into an autobiography, talking about how getting fired from the radio for using the n-word got him to start his Radical Agenda podcast. Says he’s “very good at my job” and “in art anything is possible”

Cantwell is talking too fast for the court reporter and asked to slow down… says “that’s my radio voice”

Cantwell: before we’re done here you’re gonna know that I’m not an idiot… I’m gonna do my best to make this fun.. says he want’s to “make plaintiffs’ counsel laugh at jokes they shouldn’t”

Cantwell is talking about “monsters, wizards and ghosts” in his long winded argument that seems to be aiming to prove he’s just an entertainer

“I am the host and producer of one of the most commercially successful such products ever produced and that is why I’m being sued… ” – Cantwell compares himself to “a pornographer or a rapper” when telling the jury “I’m gonna win this thing, no contest it’s not gonna be close”

Cantwell says there’s “holes” in the plaintiff’s conspiracy case and also says “armed communists” are the “elephant in the room” missing from the case… tells the jurors he hopes they “aren’t sniveling cowards” who hope “to avoid being called a racist”

Cantwell: when i came to Charlottesville I wore a body camera… you’re gonna see at least two videos from that… why does a guy who travels across state lines to commit a crime wear a body camera… why would his co-conspirators let him do something so reckless?

Cantwell: I don’t expect you to trust me… one of the things you’re gonna hear me say in the interviews is I know I’ll be an unsympathetic defendant in a courtroom… talks about his body camera getting stolen by someone he names and claims is an antifascist from Philadelphia

Cantwell: one of the ways I used to make money was a paywall for exclusive podcasts – I disabled new signups and then used that to announce my meetup (before Unite The Right)… this shows I’m trying to avoid the ppl who say I’m conspiring to attack them…

Cantwell: the torch march was supposed to be a secret so that means it wasn’t a conspiracy to attack anyone… I’ve got some printouts from my website to show how my paywall worked…

Cantwell: I pull up to the Walmart, i get out of my car, meet my listeners, and then antifa shows up, they’re all whtie but we now it’s them bc they look like scumbags. I was legally carrying at the time, had a glock in the back of my pants.

I pulled the gun out but didn’t remove it from the holster but they called 911 anyway

Cantwell talks about his interview with VICE (“from HBO, you know the people who gave you the Sopranos”) and says he has the full unedited audio from both interviews and says he recorded it bc he was worried it would be taken out of context…

“Why is the guy who is plotting to commit a crime hanging out talking to reporters?… Why are all his co-conspirators going along with all this fame-whoring?”… “Obviously I’m an activist and an entertainer…”

Cantwell says Kessler and someone going as ‘Kurt Vandal’ invited him to a “leadership meeting” then goes on another tangent and said “I don’t know my codefendants that well”… points out how Spencer has a stuffed animal with him and says “I didn’t even know he had kids”

Cantwell: “You’re not going to see the closeness that this type of conspiracy request… says he’s never met Michael Tubbs or Michael Hill, says the first time he met James Fields was in jail. Says he first met Azzmador and Thomas Rousseau at the leadership meeting

Cantwell: The plaintiffs say this was planned on discord but they didn’t show you any of my discord messages bc they’re thoroughly uninteresting… I posted to the Cville 2.0 chat maybe 26 times

Cantwell: I was invited to speak by Augustus Sol Invictus who has defaulted on this case and isn’t here so I don’t know what to say about that

Cantwell: When they served us with this lawsuit they didn’t know I had the body camera video, spoiler alert i have a video of the meeting. I deny I conspired to commit racially motivated violence at this meeting or anywhere

Cantwell: you may hear a few racist jokes, you will even hear some brief mention of running people down with a car and getting in a gunfight but what you won’t hear is conspiring to commit a violent crime

Cantwell: I should be kinda careful about what I say here… but you see a picture of me pepper-spraying a guy… but… they guy I pepper sprayed is pretty white for a hate crime

Cantwell: A fight broke out, I wasn’t happy about it, I did what I had to do

Cantwell is now getting into the details of the suit and counter-suit he got into with Emily Gorcenski and Kristopher Goad, and his own criminal trial in Charlottesville over the charges he caught from pepper spraying people, talking about why he went to trial

Cantwell says “I don’t know a lot about August 12… because I got pepper-sprayed… first thing in the morning… that kind of cramped my style…” Says after that he went back to his hotel where he found out about the car attack (referred to James Fields as ‘innocent’)

Cantwell is now explaining that “they call me the Crying Nazi… adding insult to injury…fucking vultures”

Cantwell gives out the URL to his website and asks the jurors to become his fans

Cantwell: if you don’t want me and my associates ruling this county unopposed you need to send a message to the violent communists…

Cantwell thanks the jury for “indulging me…I’m looking forward to your verdict”

Up next for the defense is lawyer David Campbel – “I am here to defend James Fields to the extent that is possible”

Campbel says he won’t deny that Fields attended UTR, marched with Vanguard America, or carried out the car attack. Says he primarily wants jurors “to be fair”

Campbel says there is “no question that [Fields] committed racially motivated violence” due to his state and federal pleas but says that no evidence shows Fields conspired with any of his codefendants ahead of time, says noone knew who he was before August 12, 2017

Campbel says the case w Fields has 3 parts –

1- compensatory damages for ppl admitted in his plea that he.did drive into & strike w his vehicle (Campbel says he won’t argue any of that and jurors just have to assess damages for that)

2 – conspiracy – Campbel says the jurors have to decide if Fields conspired ahead of time to do what he did

3- compensatory damages and punitive damages for ppl injured in the car attack – Campbel says that Fields is already in federal prison for life w 30 life sentences & Campbel says he’s already been punished. Campbel is done

Up next is Bryan Jones, defense counsel for Michael Hill, Michael Tubbs and the League of the South (Hill and Tubbs are leaders in the League)

Jones is providing “suggestions for how you can focus your energy over the next few weeks” – “What do Michael Hill, Michael Tubbs and the League of the South have to do with James Fields?”

Jones – “as you’re listening to the evidence… ask yourself what that has to do with whether Michael Hill, Michael Tubbs and the League of the South were in a conspiracy with James Fields” to carry out the car attack

Jones says the plaintiffs showing Eliott Kline/Eli Mosley walking past James Fields “doesn’t prove a conspiracy”

Bryan Jones: Michael Hill and Michael Tubbs weren’t at the torch march, says Hill wrote “thanks but this is not our game… we are sending two observers” when he learned the location/plan of the torch rally had been leaked

Jones says Hill is 74, oldest of the defendants. Talks about his desire to support this history of the confederacy, Hill and the League of the South travelling to “support… monuments” from 2014 onwards

Jones: “Michael Tubbs is 61… he’s from Florida… he joined the League of the South in 2000…”

Bryan Jones: “The League of the South was worried about antifa much like the other defendants…they prepared to defend themselves…that’s why they used secure communications, to try to prevent antifa from finding out their plans…”

Jones again asks the jury to focus on whether his clients have any ties to James Fields. “What these plaintiffs have done is thrown out a net… like from commercial fishing” (sounds like Jones is trying to say ‘dragnet’)

Jones is done his opening arguments for Michael Hill/Michael Tubbs/League of the South – that was pretty short

Up next for defense opening arguments in Sines v. Kessler is William Edward Rebrook, representing Jeff Schoep, the National Socialist Movement and the Nationalist Front

Rebrook says this is his last trial as a defense lawyer.. says in laws school he was taught to “humanize defendants” – “I’m not gonna do that..I think it would be a waste of your time, a waste of my time to try to humanize ppl whose beliefs we’d spend our last breaths opposing..”

Rebrook says “you won’t emerge from this trial liking these defendants…” is now calling for sympathy for Hether Heyer and her mother Susan Bro, seems to be forcing the tenor of holding back tears in his voice

“This case isn’t about who we like and dislike… this case is about vengeance and assigning blame…” -Rebrook

“This case… is in fact about free speech…” Rebrook describes looking up his “favorite speeches” from movies and history last night when preparing his remarks. Talks about the Michael Douglas film The American President

Rebrook calls plaintiff expert witness Professor Peter Simi “a mind reader who’s gonna come in here and read. a crystal ball.” Calls getting a permit for the rally “odd behavior for people who plan to break the law”

Rebrook says police at Unite The Right “did not protect and serve”

“even though it is an undisputed fact that James Alex Fields ran. his crowd into a crowd of people… that is not in and of itself… a conspiracy…” – Rebrook

Rebrook says “the evidence will show you that [National Socialist Movement and Jeff Schoep] were not present for the torch march” or the car attack… says “no connection between James Alex Fields and the other defendants… he acted alone…”

Rebrook quotes the Cadet’s Prayer “to help us choose the harder right over the easier wrong and to never be content to choose the half-truth when the full truth can be won”

Rebrook says jurors making the right choice can earn jurors “the scorn of the media, the press…many of your friends…and this city…”

Rebrook asks the jurors “to set emotions aside, look at the facts, and ask yourself, can people who weren’t even around be blamed…”

Judge Moon interrupts Rebrook to tell him to stop making arguments about “the greater good” and focus on the evidence in the case

Rebrook calls siding with the plaintiffs “the easier way” they can take and is implying it could have ominous consequences

Rebrook asks the jury to set aside his clients “ugly beliefs” “and not allow attorneys from another state, from New York, to come down to Virginia and whittle away the First Amendment…”

Roberta Kaplan objects and says Rebrook is violating Judge moon’s instructions

Judge Moon agrees Rebrook’s comment about ‘New York’ was “improper”

Judge Moon: “the lawyers are not on trial”

Rebrook: “the evidence will show the city was failed by those whose duty it was to protect and serve… if you choose to believe the plaintiffs evidence, you will be forcing white nationalists into more than just their parents’ basements, you will be forcing them underground…

..and personally I have to agree w Brad Pitt’s character from Inglorious Bastards where he likes his Nazis out in the open..” -Rebrook

Judge Moon scolds Mr. Rebrook: I don’t know why you don’t understand that..ramifications of the verdict have nothing to do w the jury’s decision

Judge Moon is really lecturing Rebrook for a while now

Rebrook to jury: to do your duty is all I can really ask you to do, I have nothing further thank you

Up next is Joshua Smith (defense counsel for David Matthew Parrott, Matthew Heimbach and the Traditionalist Worker Party.) Smith says he thinks he will take about 20 mins so Judge Moon calls for a 15 min “stretch break”

Late Afternoon Break

Judge Moon is back in court, says he might adjourn for the day after Joshua Smith’s opening arguments but also might start testimony from the plaintiff’s first witness

Joshua Smith – defense counsel for Matt Parrott, Matt Heimbach and Traditionalist Worker Party, the militant Nazi party the two Matts co-led, is beginning his opening arguments now

Smith opens with an appeal to the First Amendment, says that one side of an argument doesn’t have the right to “drown out” the other side – “there isn’t some sort of permitted right to counter-protest” by “throwing stuff”…

“It’s the job of the police to make sure the people who applied for the permit.aren’t denied the right to hold whatever event they got the permit for” – Smith says the case is actually the “opposite” of what plaintiffs say- says Unite The Right attendees had their rights violated

Smith references the federal lawsuit that got Charlottesville to grant Unite The Right the permit for Emancipation Park (the city had originally tried to force the rally to relocate to McIntire Park)

Smith seems be honing in on a defense of essentially blaming the police for what happened

“I can’t just piggyback off of your permit and say I have the right to counter-protest… you have to get your own permit” – Smith

Judge Moon: wait, Mr. Smith, counter-protesters did not have to have a permit to be there…other persons had a right to protest… I rule that they didn’t have to have a permit to protest… go on to another matter

Joshua Smith: the thing is as much as plaintiffs would like to claim the evidence shows some sort of conspiracy…the reality is Mr. Kessler asked them to attend the event and they did…they brought their political party, which was an FEC-registered political party at the time..

Smith: TradWorker and Mr. Parrott and Mr. Heimbach are accused of being in this conspiracy… they didn’t know about the torch march, they found out about it a few hours before it happened…

… When Mr. parrot who runs TWP along w Mr. Heimbach heard about it, they said we’re not going to this and none of TradWorker’s members are to attend in any way… – Smith

Smith says “defensive items like shields and helmets” were important for TWP bc they would often be attacked by their political opponents… “you have to be careful at these things these days…”

Smith said Matt Parrott “was concerned about making this a peaceful event”and sent TWP members emails “about how this rally was supposed to go… the conduct that was expected of them…”

Smith: Mr. Parrott made it very clear to his members that they were not to have any part of any violent behavior and the set of emails he sent out goes to show that…

Smith is pulling up an August 3, 2017 email from Parrott but its too small to see on the screen.

Kaplan from the plaintiffs says she needs time to read the email, trying to figure out what exhibit number it is, Smith does not know the exhibit number

Kaplan asks for a sidebar, Kaplan and Smith approach the bench

sidebar is done, Smith resumes his opening arguments

Smith says “Mr. Parrott was very concerned about safety for this event, you see… in this first email he says…

“this is a peaceful event and you ask that you think it through before you carry your arms into the event grounds…and we want to give that impression to all parties… we will not devolve the rally into a shouting match…” – Smith quoting from Parrott email

“if the enemy approaches us, we must work… to follow all laws…if attacked we will follow all laws and defend ourselves and our comrades… we will not be screaming at, insulting or name calling antifa at the event” – Parrott email

“that sounds pretty restrained to me… they worked with the police to contain the event, unless the plaintiffs are claiming that the police are working with the defendants…” -Smith

Smith pulls up another email fro Matt Parrott – “Our intel suggests at this moment that our numbers will be strong enough and law enforcement involved enough that our event will be your back..we’re preparing for the worst but don’t be alarmed by all tactical planning”

“TradWorker and its members have been attacked viciously at previous rallies… TradWorker was interested in putting on a successful rally about a cause that they believed in… they weren’t looking to turn this into anything other than a political rally…

this wasn’t the language of a racially motivated conspiracy… the plaintiffs’ conspiracy theory does not come close to anything…actionable” – Smith

Smith says “we’re not here to dispute” the car attack because Heimbach, Parrott and TradWorker “did not have anything to do” with it

Smith: it is kind of weird, that, here’s this guy that noone has ever seen before, comes to this rally for the first time, he wears a uniform of an organization that put out publicly what its uniform is, and then this happens, the situation with the car…

…and then from that the alt-right and the far-rght is defamed in general.. the thing is there’s no evidence that connects James Fields to any of these people…what are the odds of that happening…”

Smith compares the Fields car attack to the Final Destination movie series

“The police let the parties fight so they could step in and declare an unlawful assembly…and shut it down” – Smith

“The police pushed them right into their political enemies…so of course violence breaks out…” – Smith

Smith “If even one tiny thing was different..none of this would have happened, his car wouldn’t have been in that place at that time..ppl that were on that street when the car collided..wouldn’t be takes a lot of moving parts..there isn’t just one group to blame here”

Smith is talking a bunch about the history of forced integration after Brown v Board of Education now… Kaplan interrupts to say she doesn’t know what that has to do w the case

Judge Moon: talk about something that has to do with this case

Smith: the defendants in this case had a permit so why weren’t their rights protected?

Smith: this isn’t about politics.. or trump…this is fundamentally about one of the most important things that makes our republic a civil republic… freedom of speech and the protection of that right…”

Smith: when he heard about the torch march, Mr. Parrott said, nope, nobody’s going, and they did not go

Smith: “when the police did declare an unlawful assembly…. all the TWP members just went home, they did what they were told… they were not anywhere near any of the events…”

Smith: the issue here is whether those defendants are responsible for those injuries [from the car attack] … there is no connection…”

Smith: perhaps this is an issue that is best settled in the political arena… and not in courts where we settle political issue.. one side decided we’re going to use the courts to crush the other group bc we know we can’t take away their first amendment rights

Judge Moon: this is the same issue i’ve interrupted 15 ppl over… just don’t do that

Smith: I’m done, I’m sorry

Smith’s opening argument finishes just seconds after getting scolded AGAIN by Judge Moon

Judge Moon is ending court for today, reminding jurors not to discuss the case or read about it or watch TV about it or read or post online abut it. Tomorrow should start with the first witness testimony from the plaintiffs

Jurors are leaving the courtroom now

Karen Dunn (plaintiffs): we just wanted to flag one issue and let the court know we’ll be submitting a letter overnight… we tried not to interrupt during opening but there were numerous misrepresentations about the law.. and violations of your honor’s rules…

Smith says he will also be submitting a letter about plaintiffs using the term “white supremacists” which he says is “inflammatory”. Dunn clarifies that term is just being used to refer to the expert testimony of Peter Simi

We’re waiting to see if court is done for real – Judge Moon i still in his chair but lawyers and parties are milling around the courtroom and seem to be on their way out

Judge Moon has left the courtroom.