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 6 – Nov. 1, 2021 (Collected from this tweet thread)
We’re back in federal court in Charlottesville, VA for day 6 of the jury trial in the ‘Sines v Kessler’ civil rights lawsuit filed against organizers of Unite The Right.
Devin Willis (Plaintiff) Testimony, Continued
Willis is continuing his testimony that began last Friday.
Plaintiffs’ counsel Alex Conlon is asking Willis, a young recent UVA grad, about his experience coming upon the scene of the car attack on August 12, 2017. Willis describes being traumatized and “struggling” in the aftermath
Willis: “I became much more conscious of my race and my identity as a black person” after August 11-12, 2017, said he “had a really hard time readjusting to being a regular student…after these events… struggling to function and keep up with daily tasks…”
After the trauma of Unite The Right & related events, “I no longer had the energy and the motivation to see my responsibilities through, to see those opportunities through…”
Willis said he dropped out of student groups, felt like he was “shooting myself in the foot… I could barely get out of bed…”
Conlon: how did the feelings you experienced affect you academically?
Willis: I was struggling to sleep, to get rest, to concentrate, to participate… that really took a toll on my performance… got my first F… my upward progress completely collapsed…
Conlon: can you talk a little about any steps your family might have taken to help you succeed growing up?
Willis: We were really poor but my mom made sure I was in good school districts, she moved us to the DMV so I could get a better education
Conlon: How long did you struggle at school for after August 11 & 12?
Willis: honestly the rest of my time at UVA… I felt I was lucky to graduate on time
Conlon: It’s four years later… how are you doing now?
Willis: I still struggle… I feel I can’t get back the things I’ve lost… I struggle with flashbacks a lot… the nightmares subsided until I came back here for this trial… I would say a lot of things have gotten better
Willis: It’s hard to be here…. It’s hard to look back on college fondly the way people tell you you’re supposed to…. because of what happened
Conlon: thank you, nothing further
(direct examination of plaintiff Devin Willis as a witness is done – cross-examination by defense beginning now)
Bryan Jones is crossing Willis now – Jones represents Michael Hill, Michael Tubbs and the League of the South (Hill & Tubbs are leaders in the League, which played a key role in Unite The Right)
Jones pulls up an exhibit showed on Friday – a media advisory that Devin Willis helped make for an anti-racist counter-protest event in Charlottesville on August 12. Jones seems to be honing in on the name of another organizer quoted in the press release
Jones asking Willis about the term “direct action” used in the media advisory
Jones: “what does direct action refer to?”
Willis: I don’t really know, are you asking me to speculate?
Jones: I’m not asking you to speculate
Jones focuses on the part of the release that refers to the event in McGuffey Park as “a respite from direct action”
Willis calls “direct action” a “net cast” to describe different kinds of protest activity
Jones: is reading another paragraph in the press release that says “we acknowledge there will be a significant number of people in the downtown area… to be prepared if engaging in direct action…”
Jones: so you’ve got nonviolent civil protest on one hand, and direct action on the other?
Willis: my understanding is that nonviolent civil protest is a form of direct action
Bryan Jones: this document seems to contrast ‘nonviolent civil protest’ with/against ‘direct action’
Bryan Jones: the day of August 12 started for you at MuGuffey Park… Black Lives Matter was also there as part of the protest, correct?
Devin Willis: I’m not sure, a lot of people there were wearing Black Lives Matter Shirts
Jones points out that the press release links to an Eventbrite page that says “Statements By” a list of groups including Black Lives Matter
Jones: would it be safe to say that Black Lives Matter was a part of the group there with you at the park…?
Jones: You’re not a member of Black Lives Matter, of any chapter?
Willis: I wasn’t a member of any chapter
Jones: and you weren’t previously?
Willis: I wasn’t previously
Jones pulls up a video exhibit – a video taken by Devin Willis on August 12 that shows him chanting “no justice, no peace, no racist police” in McGuffey park
Jones: Isn’t that a Black Lives Matter chant?
Willis: I don’t know if it was a BLM chant it’s just a chant I was using
Jones: you said you went to protest these white nationalist groups but here you are on August 12 chanting about “racist police.” Do you know why you were doing that?
Willis: probably bc other people were doing that
Jones: so you were following other people that day?
Jones: what did you mean when you chanted ‘no racist police’ did you mean the Charlottesville police dept?
Willis: yeah, you don’t want racist police anywhere…
Jones: you testified on Friday that you knew the protesters coming to Emancipation Park that day had a permit to protest there?
Jones: any you guys had a permit for McGuffey Park?
Jones: and in the lead-up you met w the Chief of Charlottesville police?
Jones: what sort of things did he suggest…?
Willis: I don’t recall the substance of the meeting
Jones: at some point you went from McGuffey Park to Emancipation Park… you set up at the library just outside the park… you were there until you heard the police declare an unlawful assembly… you remained there the entire time until the unlawful assembly was declared…
Jones: You said you witnessed some people using sticks and poles as weapons to hit other people… did you notice any police presence there?
Willis: I can’t remember specifically but I do know they were around
Jones: you said you were chanting numerous things including ‘shut it down’…
Jones: when you said ‘shut it down’, you were referring to the park… to you trying to take direct action to shut the rally down, correct?
Willis: no, we were chanting for the police to shut it down on behalf of the public
Jones: but you knew they had a permit?
Willis: I thought there was issues w the permit
Jones: did you notice anyone with red bandanas on their neck?
Jones plays a clip from a video exhibit, a video Devin Willis took of his fellow UVA students in around Emancipation Park- “you guys were creating a human chain or blockade on the middle of Market Street..your group..was in the middle of the street..what was the purpose of that?”
Willis: it was symbolic, like the night before
Jones: you could have demonstrated… at the side of the road… if you do that in the middle of the road your intention is to keep people from walking down the road correct?
Willis: they could have gone around, there’s sidewalks
Jones pauses the video, singles out a person (calls them ‘him’) asks, “is he a UVA student?”
Willis: they’re non-binary and they were a student at the time
Jones is pointing out people with red bandanas, asking Jones if he noticed the bandanas
Jones is pointing out a “red flag with a sickle”, asking Willis if he recognizes it – “that’s the communist flag of the Soviet Union… do you remember seeing that… you didn’t realize there were communist supporters among the counter-protesters?”
Willis: I didn’t pay much attention to it
Jones is circling more people wearing red bandanas in Willis’ video: “Is that something that you didn’t notice either?… You don’t recognize that as a symbol of antifa?”
Jones stops the video on more people, asks Willis if he recognizes them, he says no
Jones seems really fixated on the red bandana thing… has pointed out most of a dozen
Jones stops the video on a frame that shows plaintiff and witness Natalie Romero – says this video disproves Romero’s claims that she was “standing only on the side of the road with a group of only female counter-protesters”
Jones is scrubbing the Windows media player over video footage of the marching band and the crowd outside Emancipation Park in Willis’ video, stops on a frame that shows someone in black w a black bandana on face holding a flagpole
Jones: this person is clearly a counter-protester right?
Willis: that would be my best guess
Jones asks Willis if he recognizes someone holding a “melt the statue” sign
Jones is going down the line of counter-protesters with arms linked asking Willis if he recognizes them – “what about this person?”… “What about this person here?”
Jones points out one of them holding a “stick”… “is that the kind of implement you saw being used as a weapon on August 12?”
Jones is pointing out more bandanas in the crowd shown in Willis’ video- a rainbow one, another red one
Jones: “it seems safe to say most of the people we went through were not UVA students…?
Willis: I saw a a few UVA students… most of them were unknown to me
Willis: I don’t know who was and was not a student… some people were probably not students
Jones: it’s safe to say this isn’t a group of UVA students reading poetry in the park, isn’t it?
Willis: that’s safe to say
Jones: did you ask the police why they didn’t stop you from blocking the roadway to keep people from attending the rally?
Willis: I did not ask the police that and I don’t think the road was completely blocked
Jones asks Devin Willis about his previous testimony expressing confusion as to why Unite The Right attendees marched up Market Street in particular to get to the park, Jones pulls up a Google Maps screenshot of the area
Jones circles the Charlottesville Police Department next to the Market Street parking garage… asks Willis to “draw the most direct route to Emancipation Park from the Market Street parking garage”
Jones: “and that’s the entrance to the park where you were standing with the group of other counter-protesters, is that correct?
Jones: was there anything special about that particular entrance for you?
Willis:.. probably because we also came from the east
Jones: so if this entrance to the park would have been obstructed or blocked by counter-protesters…assuming there were other possible entrances to the park… they would have had to go back one block, up one block, and over correct?
Conlon: objection, cause for speculation
Judge Norman Moon: overruled
Willis: if the road had been blocked the next most efficient way would have been to use the sidewalk but then they could have gone around yeah
Jones: if the entire way was blocked by counter-protester linking arms… the protesters would have had to go the way I just outlined?
Jones: would you have stayed at that entrance or gone to another entrance if that one was already blocked?
Willis: I don’t think that was the objective, it was mostly a symbolic sort of standing up
Jones: who was your audience?
Willis: the audience is more so other counter-protesters than the protesters themselves
Jones: so when you’re standing in the road blocking the entrance to the park, your audience is not the protesters themselves?
Willis: yeah our back is to Emancipation Park
Jones: are you saying there were only protesters behind you or were there also protesters coming towards you?
Willis: yeah there were protesters all around
Jones: if they weren’t there would you have tried to make your ceremonial protest at a different entrance?’
Willis: I don’t think so
Jones: did you participate in any of the logistics planning with organizers and the police department?
Willis: just the one meeting
Jones: so you were not aware of an understanding between the police and Unite The Right about what route they would take to access the park?
Willis: I was not
Jones: you testified that you were there outside the park until the unlawful assembly was declared… (Jones pulls up another video exhibit, a clip taken by Willis in the area by the library outside Emancipation Park)
[NOTE: Emancipation Park, formerly called Lee Park, is now known as Market Street Park]
Jones: you said one of the group marching towards the park was a group with ‘older, bearded men’, didn’t you say that?
Jones: I’m circling here, that’s Michael Tubbs, one of my clients, he appears to be an older man with a beard correct? (Jones asks the same as to Michael Hill)… Is this the group that you recall?
Willis: I’m not really sure
Jones pulls up a screenshot showing the group in question, asks Willis to mark “where the protesters who were arriving on Market Street could have gone” to get to the rally
Willis: they could have gone around this white vehicle but that part of the street isn’t pictured
Jones: so you’re suggesting that this group could have gone behind, could have gone around there…?
Willis: looks like they could have gone around either side of the white vans
Jones: you’re saying this group of counter-protesters blocking the road wouldn’t have just moved to block them?
Willis: it isn’t fair for me to speak on what they would do
Jones is going through the line of people seen in this video clip, asks Willis if he knows if ppl seem to be UVA students, makes a point of pointing out people in black, people with bandanas
Jones: what’s that person wearing around their neck?
Willis: a red bandana
Jones: you really didn’t notice any red bandanas that day?
Willis: i was mostly concerned with accounting for the people I came with
Jones asks what a person has in their hand, Willis says he can’t tell, Jones says it’s an umbrella
Jones: what about this person, do you see the red bandana around their neck?
Willis: I do
Jones points out someone holding a “flagpole”
Willis: I see a flag
Jones: is it attached to a pole?
Willis: you mean what he’s holding? yeah
Jones: is that the kind of thing you saw being used as a weapon that day?
Jones: is there any space to go around these people straight down Market Street?
Willis: you’re talking about the paved roadway or the entirety of Market Street?
Jones: is there any space for people to walk through there?
Willis: not on the roadway
Jones: “is it fair to say most of the folks here blocking the roadway are not UVA students?”
Willis: “…I don’t know who those people are…”
Jones is asking Willis about the “July Klan rally… contrasting that with the August 12 Unite The Right rally… you described the Klan rally as… you saw some of the Klan members had weapons but otherwise it was a nonviolent uneventful rally…?”
Jones: there was a significant police presence, they were separating counter-protesters from the Klan… you were surprised you experienced violence at the August rally because you assumed it would be similar to the July rally, correct?
Jones: Couldn’t the reason be that you experienced violence in August and not July… be bc in August you were standing in a roadway and you weren’t in July?
Willis: I don’t think standing in the road is an invitation to violence but I suppose one could say that
Jones is now seriously raising his voice, asking Willis if he saw people blocking the street to Unite The Right attendees before he got in the road to join them
Willis: I knew I had the right to stand in the street w my friends
Jones: you thought you had the right bc the police didn’t do anything?
Willis: that’s not why I thought I had the right
Jones: what made you think you had the right to do that… you thought it was legal for you to be doing that?
Jones asks Willis if he “planned” to stand in the street, Willis says it was “impromptu”
Jones: so it was a spontaneous act on your part?
Jones: now this will come across as a strange question but isn’t it true that all of the protesters arriving for Unite The Right were white?
Willis: to my memory
Jones: you weren’t counter-protesting them bc of their race, you were counter-protesting them bc of their beliefs?
Bryan Jones is done w cross examination of Devin Willis… Richard Spencer (Pro Se) doing his cross exam of Willis now
Spencer asks to borrow Jones’ computer to show one of the plaintiff’s exhibits
ICYMI: Richard Spencer is representing himself in this case
Spencer: you have said that you were a liberal arts guy at UVA and you studied political and social thought, is that a program or a major?
Willis: it’s a major
Spencer asks Willis about courses required for his degree etc
Spencer is asking Willis about authors he liked in his courses and if “free speech was important to” them
Spencer: you testified that there’s no racially exclusive aspect to the Black Student Alliance… this might be strange to ask but could I join?
Willis: if you were a UVA student
Spencer: is it fair to say that the Black Student Alliance was about “Black identity”?
Spencer: is there a white student alliance on campus?
Spencer: what would you think about such a group?
Willis: I don’t know, would depend on what they were up to
Asked what the Black Student Alliance focused on, Willis says making UVA a better place for Black students, increasing Black admittance rates
Spencer asks Willis why he counter-protested the July 2017 Klan rally in Charlottesville, Willis says he “wanted to see it for myself” and express his opposition to the Klan
Spencer: You described it as “gross”…?
Willis: that’s how I felt
Spencer: why would you go to something that’s ‘gross’?… Were you fascinated…?
Willis: a bit but more so disturbed
Spencer asks about Unite The Right on August 12, asks about exhibit PX-3261, the McGuffey Park counter-protest event media advisory document that Devin Willis helped edit
Spencer asks Willis about PARJ (People’s Action for Racial Justice), Willis clarifies PARJ was an ‘ad-hoc’ group created for the purposes of the event.
Spencer asks Willis to read a paragraph from the media advisory in which an organizer w name redacted calls for action against white supremacy
Spencer: so “white supremacy happens all the time, it is the rule not the exception”, do you believe we live in a white supremacist society?
Willis: we live in a really complicated society and there’s a lot of white supremacy present
Spencer: is there white supremacy at UVA?
Willis: white supremacist thing have happened there…UVA has struggled with its past
Spencer is digging more into the particulars of the wording in the PARJ event media advisory
Spencer: I want to go to August 11… perhaps you could remind me, you were attending a dinner at a professor’s house and someone… announced that something was happening..?
Willis: somebody came in and let some people know that they had heard that Jason Kessler and a handful of people are going to give a speech or something somewhere on UVA grounds
Spencer: how did they hear about it?
Willis: I don’t even know who the person was… I heard this information very much second hand…
Spencer: what made you decide to attend [on August 11]?
Devin Willis: my friends were going… Kessler was doing it on UVA grounds and I was a tuition-paying student at the time… it didn’t feel right
Spencer: as a tuition-paying student do you have the right to determine the curriculum of the school or what’s said at the school?
Willis: I don’t know… but I think students should have a say in the narrative about the school
Spencer: the fact that some people weren’t students, is that an essential matter?…is the fact that Jason Kessler was not currently a student, was that a factor in your decision making?
Willis: it was a factor
Spencer: if a tuition-paying student wanted to hold a torch rally would you still want to protest it?
Willis: I’m not sure
Spencer: you’re not sure?
Willis: it’s not common for older people who aren’t students anymore to return to the university to have protests
Spencer: so who made the banner?
Willis: some people there
Spencer: the people at the house, at the dinner?
Spencer: did you make it?
Willis: I think I did a letter
Spencer: what did it say?
Willis: I think it said Virginia Students Act Against White Supremacy
Spencer: how and why did you decide to be at the base of the Jefferson statute?
Willis: I was following other students
Spencer: did they have direct logistical knowledge of the torch rally march plan and map?
Willis: i don’t think so
Spencer: how did you know to be at the statue?
Willis: you guys are well known for liking statues
Roberta Kaplan jumps in to complain that Richard Spencer keeps interrupting Devin Willis’ answers
Spencer: did you or your friends assume that the torch rally would end up at the Jefferson statute?
Willis: I don’t know
Spencer: so wherever Jason Kessler is, you’d be there…?
Willis: on UVA grounds, that night, that would be fair
Spencer: when you first arrived at the statue where there other people there other than your group?
Willis: yes… there were people there hanging out
Spencer: how long did you wait at the base of the Jefferson statue?
Willis: it was a very brief amount of time, I don’t remember
Spencer: is 5 minutes fair?
Spencer: did you establish yourself at the base of the statue?
Willis: we were… we didn’t have enough people to circle the base of the statue… we were trying to deal with that before we were surrounded…
Spencer: How many people were in reserve for this counter protest…?
Willis: I don’t get what you mean
Spencer: who could you have called or marshaled over to take part in your counter protest?
Willis: idk, probably other students
Judge Moon interrupts to say a 20 min recess is starting now
Judge Norman K. Moon is back in court, Richard Spencer’s cross-examination of Sines v. Kessler plaintiff and testifying witness – former UVA student and Unite The Right counter-protester Devin Willis – is resuming shortly
Richard Spencer: so you and your friends walked to the base of the Jefferson statue…can you still not recall who was leading that walk… was there anyone who had better knowledge..& knew to go to the statue?
Devin Willis:…there was no leader who seemed to have a master plan
Spencer: who started the chant ‘no nazis, no KKK no fascist USA?’
Willis: I don’t recall
Spencer: was that the main chant… what were some of the others?
Willis: ‘Black Lives Matter’
Spencer: were you aware of myself, Richard Spencer, before the torch rally?
Willis: i had read an article of you… that you were the leader of the alt-right
Spencer: did you see me that night?
Willis: I don’t remember recognizing you but having seen video etc… I am sure you were in my line of sight I just didn’t know you at the time
Spencer: you testified you were concerned about doxing… is attending a counter-protest a good way of avoiding doxing?
Willis: depends if people on the other side are trying to dox people
Spencer: when you attended the torch rally as a counter-protester and the next day when you organized a counter-protest in a park, did you expect social media and livestreams to be present… did you cover your face?
Willis: at the torch rally I covered my face bc i was maced
Spencer: so you reasonably expected your face to be out there on social media?
Willis: I wasn’t thinking about that at the time
Spencer: you testified on Friday that at one point, when the full scale of the torchlight march was clear to you that you said ‘I’m ready to go’ – so you wanted to leave the base of the statue?
Willis: Once i realized that the situation seemed life-threatening…yeah
Spencer: you also testified that you saw a lot of fisticuffs, pushing, kicking…
Willis: yeah i saw some fights
Spencer: do you think you could have reasonably run off?
Spencer: you also testified that after the shoving, you went back to ‘lick our wounds’
Willis: we didn’t go back to the statue we went off to someplace else
Spencer: you said ‘watching someone celebrate’ was discouraging?
Willis: watching white nationalists celebrate, watching you celebrate, was discouraging
Spencer: did you have people in your group who were acting as medics?
Willis: there was people in our group who knew first aid…
Spencer: did you feel like you were backing down from a fight?
Willis: I felt like we had been attacked
Spencer: after you licked your wounds did you return to the base of the statue?
Willis: No I did not
Spencer: if there were fisticuffs and pushing and shoving, why would you go back to the protest…?
Willis:… i could help administer a safe space… I was definitely…shaken up by what had happened the night before…I was young and not as cautious and risk-averse as I am now
Spencer: so after you ‘licked your wounds’ you woke up at 5:30 AM?
Willis: yeah it was really early
Spencer: you claimed that you were able to ‘shrug off’ what happened the night before?
Alex Conlon (plaintiff’s attorney): if Spencer is going to ask the witness about quotes he should cite a page number
Judge Moon (to Willis): if you don’t recall making such a statement, say so
Spencer: I’m using my notes, I take detailed notes
Spencer: you said that you shrugged off the events of August 11?
Willis: I was numb and in shock, was able to keep going… I had already given my word that I would come and help out…in that context it would have been really inappropriate for me to just bail on what I said I would do
Spencer asks Willis about protest chants on August 12 such as “the people united will never be divided”, “don’t back it down, shut it down”
Spencer uses an incredulous tone of voice when asking “You wanted to shut it down? You wanted the racist police to shut the rally down?”
Spencer: “the people united will never be divided”… could you explain that?
Willis: i’m not sure how to explain
Spencer: we can go through it – ‘the people’, what does that mean
Willis: the people, all people
Spencer: ‘united’, what does that mean?
Willis: people being together, in community… people are stronger when they work together
Spencer: ‘will never be divided’, what if someone wants to be divided?
Conlon: Objection, speculation
Judge Moon: if he was shouting a slogan he can tell what he meant
Spencer: what did that mean to you?
Willis: people are better versions of themselves… when they’re in community together…
Spencer: so it was directed at the other counter-protesters?
Spencer asks Willis about a sign ‘showing a clenched fist’ – “what was that about?”
Willis: I used it because it harkens back to the civil rights movement?
Spencer: the clenched fist harkens back to the civil rights movement?
Spencer: you said it means different things to different people, what else could a clenched fist mean… has it ever been used by the black power movement, communists?
Spencer: do white nationalists have the right to hold a demonstration
Willis: I think they have that right, yes
Spencer: but are they dividing a united community?
Willis: I’m not sure, I don’t think so….
Spencer: so the community doesn’t include white nationalists?
Willis: I don’t think I understand the question… white nationalists, are they or are they not dividing the community?
Spender: that was my question yes
Willis: i think a lot of people would describe white nationalists as divisive
Spencer: are they part of the community?
Willis: they’re part of some communities, there are different communities
Spencer: why would you say ‘the community’ if there’s more than one?
Willis: i’m not trying to get off in the weeds, its more of a semantic thing. “the people united will never be divided” … is about people being in community
Spencer: I’m not sure I caught all that… if someone’s dividing the community, where are your responsibilities as a member of the community?
Willis: to try to get to the root of the issue…
Spencer: by talking to people?
Willis: talking can be good… but no one’s required to listen to hate speech
Spencer: what do you do if someone’s engaging in hate speech?
Willis: usually try to remove myself from the situation
Spencer: but you didn’t do that on August 12…
Spencer: you stated that you wanted to establish a safe space on the 12th… would that include blocking people from traveling to a permitted rally?
Willis: …the safe space was in McGuffey Park and I think the event you’re referring to wasn’t there…
Spencer: were you trying to create a safe space around the Jefferson statue on Friday night?
Willis: a safe space is a place you invite people to where they can experience a respite… from oppression, hate… that doesn’t mean I didn’t want it to be a peaceful encounter
Spencer: but you, do you want to protect that area around the Jefferson statue?
Willis: i don’t think it was about protecting, it was about making a statement
Spencer: was Thomas Jefferson a white supremacist?
Willis: he was a complex individual…he owned slaves… analyzing his legacy is a complicated thing to do
Spencer: it’s complicated… could you give us an overview?
Judge Moon: you’re spending a lot of time on this…
Spencer: nothing further
Chris Cantwell (representing himself) is up next to cross-examine Devin Willis (one of the plaintiffs in Sines v Kessler and also a witness)
Cantwell: did you ever talk to a reporter named Michael Bragg from the Daily Progress?
Willis: I’m not sure
Cantwell: do you read the Daily Progress?
Willis: no, I’m aware of it
Cantwell: are you aware you’re quoted in an article from August 19 …?
Willis: I think so
Cantwell: do you know who [name] is? Did they go with you on August 11?
Cantwell: do you know if [name] was watching livestreams of the torch march before it came to you… give you any info about the torch march before it arrived?
Willis: I don’t know
Cantwell: who was in the car with you? Can you name them?
Willis: I’m hesitant to name them, some of them live here
Cantwell: I’m hesitant too
Judge Moon: you have to name them
Roberta Kaplan (plaintiffs): can we approach, your honor?
Sidebar happening now
Cantwell: could you tell me the names of the people in the car with you?
Willis: I only remember two people I was in the car with… sorry, Judge, do I have to say their names now?
Judge Moon: yes, this is your lawsuit, this is information they have a right to
Cantwell is having Willis say and spell out the names of people he was with that night
Cantwell: can you describe the two other people whose names you don’t remember?
Willis: all I remember is they were students?
Cantwell: you don’t remember if they were male or female? You don’t remember if they were black or white?
Willis: I remember they were white
Cantwell: you don’t remember who told you about the torch rally?
Willis: … I don’t remember exactly, I’m pretty sure it was an older student… somebody had gotten everyone’s attention
Cantwell: you know who Paul Revere is…. the guy who says the torches are coming and you. godown there and have this traumatic experience, you don’t know who this person is…
Cantwell asking about Natalie Romero being with Devin Willis that night, if she was in the car or took a different car etc
Cantwell: did you study Marxism in the course [of your degree]?
Willis: we read a section of Das Kapital
Cantwell: did you ever read the Communist Manifesto?
Willis: I don’t think so
Cantwell asking about the car route Willis took to get to the Jefferson statue on August 11
Cantwell: at some point at the statue did you hear someone say “heads down”?
Cantwell: do you know who Emily Gorcenski is?
Willis: i’ve heard their name but I don’t know who she is or who they are
Cantwell: you said ‘you don’t know who she is or who they are’?
Willis: I don’t know their gender, I want to be sensitive to their pronouns
Cantwell: are you on twitter?
Willis: i have a twitter
Cantwell: have you used twitter to keep up with news about this rally?
Willis: not at the time
Cantwell: what injuries did you have from August 1?
Willis: pepper spray on my side, a fight rolled onto my legs and I was busy holding hands and was on the statue and couldn’t really move, a lot of the kicking and punching was hitting my legs
Cantwell: which mob was that?
Willis: it came from the direction of the tiki torches
Cantwell: so you’re telling us you know that the violence is from the people with the torches?
Willis: that’s my memory , yes
Cantwell: and you know that was my pepper spray
Willis: i’ve seen video where you are spraying towards where I was
Cantwell: did you seek first aid on August 11?
Willis: just the basic stuff like flushing my eyes
Cantwell: who flushed your eyes? Did that person have a red bandana?
Cantwell: did you bring your phone w you on the evening of August 11?
Willis: i don’t remember but I was shown a photo that I took so I probably did
Cantwell: you mentioned you saw the torchbearers carrying firearms on UVA campus?… That’s not legal, is it?
Willis: I don’t know… it didn’t make me feel better that they were… armed… I thought someone might use that as a pretext to begin shooting…
Cantwell: could you estimate how many of the tiki torches had a firearm on their hips?
Willis: I couldn’t really guess
Cantwell: when you said that my pepper spray was on your side are you saying that I pepper sprayed you?
Willis: … it came from you among other people
Cantwell: did you speak to the Commonwealth’s Attorney or the police about your injuries?
Cantwell: did you hear any news stories about me being prosecuted about what happened that night?
Willis: only from these court proceedings
Cantwell: before we walked into this courtroom, you had no idea that Christopher Cantwell had been prosecuted for anything that happened in Charlottesville that weekend?
Cantwell: who did you tell that you choked on Christopher Cantwell’s pepper spray?
Willis: my attorneys
Cantwell: the first time you saw me was after your deposition…?
Willis: I don’t know if it was the first time
Cantwell: do you remember the date of your deposition?
Willis: July 2020
Cantwell: so July 2020 was the first time you were aware of me?
Willis: i tried to avoid photos and video unless it was for this case
Cantwell: when were you approached about this lawsuit?
Willis: October 2020
Cantwell: I can’t help but notice that you say ‘I don’t remember’ a lot, is everything okay?
Willis: everything is not okay… my ability to remember… and concentrate…was so much better before August 11 and 12… going thought something that traumatic at 18 really effected me… I’ve tried hard.. to let go of certain memories
Cantwell is asking Willis about the July 2017 Klan rally and counter-protest in Charlottesville – cops being there in riot gear, tear gas being deployed. Cantwell asks Willis about the protest chants “cops and Klan go hand in hand” and “no justice, no peace, no racist police”
Cantwell asks Willis about telling a local reporter he hadn’t been injured and then saying he was injured. in the lawsuit
Willis: “I was traumatized and speaking at a time I shouldn’t have been… I didn’t want to center myself… I didn’t think talking about my injuries was appropriate but that’s something I unlearned over time…”
Cantwell: were you or any of your friends involved with the DSA?
Conlon: objection, relevants
Judge Moon: sustained
Cantwell: you were involved with other social justice groups…?
Willis: Mostly during that summer
Cantwell: You named Solidarity Cville as one..
Cantwell: you were a liaison for the Black Student Alliance?
Cantwell: to BLM Cville and Solidarity Cville…
Cantwell: what about SURJ?
Cantwell: did the BSA have a liaison to the DSA?
Cantwell is asking about the relationship between the Black Student Alliance and the ad-hoc group PARJ made for the August 12 counter-protest permit
Cantwell: during your direct examination, would be surprised that I found it conspicuous how many times you said you were only involved in peaceful protest?
Conlon: objection, this is Mr. Cantwell testifying, I understand he is Pro Se but this is not a podcast
Judge Moon tells Cantwell to restate
Cantwell is reading the same PARJ August 12 McGuffey Park counter-rally media advisory. Asks “if someone doesn’t say that it’s a peaceful protest, then what is it?
Willis: “a protest”
Cantwell: a protest is peaceful by default, that’s kind of. the idea, isn’t it?
Cantwell: so you have a degree in political & social thought, and you’re a liaison to various political and social groups and you don’t know if protest is peaceful by default…?… I noticed repeatedly it comes up in this document that it’s peaceful…
Willis:..they were trying to relay.. that the purpose was peaceful
Cantwell: have you heard the phrase ‘diversity of tactics’?
Cantwell: if I told you it’s a euphemism for political violence…have you heard that before…?
Willis: i’m not sure
Cantwell: in your dealings w Solidarity Cville, SURJ, Cville BLM, you’ve never heard the phrase diversity of tactics?
Cantwell now asking Willis about arrests at the Klan rally in July 2017, Willis says he thinks he left before the arrests. Cantwell now asking Willis if he agrees with the PARJ counter-rally press release language about”white supremacy”
Cantwell asks Willis if he attended the one-year August 12 anniversary, Willis says he remembers attending briefly
Cantwell asks if he saw a sign that said “last year they came with torches, this year they came with badges”
Willis: I think I recognize the phrase
Cantwell: it sounds like to me that you’re not protesting something that’s unusual… do you think that what we were attempting to do on August 11-12 2017 was unusual?
Willis: the torches
Cantwell: the torches were a nice touch, you’re right
Cantwell: you said you knew the students holding the ‘students against white supremacy’, what were their names?
Willis says some names, Cantwell has him spell them out
Willis: at different times I’ve remembered incorrectly
Cantwell: so the only reason you’re changing your testimony is because you want to be accurate?
Conlon: objection, mischaracterizing
Judge Moon: that’s an argumentative question
Cantwell: do you know a lot of people who got fired for being anti-racist in 2017?
Willis: I don’t think i know anyone
Cantwell: you don’t know anyone who had their marriage ruined because they, like, opposed racism?
Cantwell is again asking Willis to list off the names of people who he knows were there that night
Cantwell: so at McGuffey Park on August 12, you said people were reading poetry, singing songs , there was a band playing…
Willis: idk if the band came until later or not…
Cantwell: did you state that on the evening of August 11 you heard them chanting ‘white power’?
Willis: I believe that was my testimony
Cantwell: did you hear them chanting white power specifically?
Willis:… it was either white lives matter or white power…
Cantwell: do you think that there’s some distinction between those phrases?
Willis: there is some distinction
Cantwell: do you think white lives matter has the same negative connotation as white power?
More Qs about the difference between the chants in Willis’ memory etc
Cantwell: at some point on August 11 you decided that you wanted to leave after the torch marchers had surrounded you… any particular reason you didn’t decide to do that before you were surrounded?
Willis: i thought it would be ok… then I changed my mind…
Cantwell pulls up another exhibit, has Willis point himself out in the image from the night of August 11, 2017
Conlon: this is an entire video
Cantwell is going to just play a specific part of the video and read the timestamps into the record
Conlon: to use this witness to authenticate an entire video that he’s never seen, we would object to that on foundation
Judge Moon: there was an exhibit admitted showing him at the statue, can’t you just use that?
Cantwell: this is a video, I’d like to go over the video with some of the audio
Judge Moon why don’t we take a lunch recess and go over it so the jury doesn’t have to sit in
Judge Moon calls lunch break until 1:30 PM (eastern time)
Court is back on in the Charlottesville ‘Sines v. Kessler’ Unite The Right civil rights lawsuit trial – defendant Christopher Cantwell (representing himself) will shortly be resuming his cross-examination of Devin Willis, who is both a plaintiff and witness in the case
There is some fussing between Cantwell plantiffs’ attorney including Alex Conlon over some notes w the audio turned off, appears to be about the video exhibit.
Plaintiffs say they will stipulate to the admissibility of some of Cantwell’s exhibits in exchange for Cantwell admitting the authenticity of the data produced by the Discord company. Jury coming back in now
Chris Cantwell: do you know who [3 names] are?
Devin Willis: no
Cantwell: circles a guy’s back – does that ring a bell?
Cantwell: circles a person – do you recognize that person?
Cantwell: those people that I pointed out, do you think that if they were UVA students you would recognize them?
Willis: I wouldn’t be sure if they were students or not
Cantwell: I’m gonna show you, this is my exhibit 33 and you can see the frame that we’re in… are you in this video?
Willis: I can’t see myself well but I believe so
Cantwell has Willis circle himself where he is in the frame
Cantwell is playing a portion of the video from the torch rally: “If you see a pistol, if you hear white power, if you hear monkey noises, I want you to tell me to stop ok?”
About ten seconds in, Willis says “I hear white power” amongst the chants
Cantwell – did you hear “white power” before or after you hear someone shout “leftist scum” –
Willis: I think i heard it after something about ‘antifa’
The video shows the torch march crowd chanting and becoming increasingly excited as they surround the small group of student counter-protesters at the Jefferson statute
Cantwell pauses the video as the torch march starts to surround the smaller crowd, has Willis point himself out in the frame
Cantwell circles another person he thinks is antifa, asks Willis if he recognizes him (he says he doesn’t)
Willis: this may not be the only instance but I experienced the “hooo hoo” as monkey noises, there’s some screeching
Cantwell pauses the video where it shows an antifascist in the surrounded crowd slapping a camera out of an alt-right videographer’s hand – “you haven’t seen anyone else get hit yet?… before this moment, in your memory, was there any violence?”
Willis: I’m not sure because in this moment I’m looking at the floor
Cantwell: just from this video, what we’ve seen here… not an overall statement… does it look like the guy w [describes outfit] takes the first swing?
Willis: I think he knocks the phone out of the guy’s hand, yeah
Cantwell: it stops pretty quickly though
Cantwell: let me pull up a different angle of video… we’ve already stipulated to this…
Cantwell: have you ever heard of a website called Unicorn Riot?
Cantwell: have you ever heard of a website called ItsGoingDown.org?
Cantwell is currently going over this video Unicorn Riot published of footage from the neo-nazi torch rally on August 11, 2017 (he doesn’t like our editing style)
Cantwell pauses the video, asks Willis about a certain guy in the video (Willis says he didn’t recognize him) around the same time it shows the alt-right crowd giving nazi salutes
Conlon objects to having Willis ID people he says he didn’t see, Judge Moon sustains the objection
Cantwell focuses on use of mace shown in this video – “If I recall correctly you… do you recognize the logo on the back of my shirt there?..I’m trying not to tstify.. I’m trying to see if your memory matches up with mine…is that the fight you said was at your feet before?”
Willis: I’m not sure, I’ve never seen this angle before… it could be the incident where you pepper-sprayed… in my direction
Cantwell: is playing a slowed-down version of the same video now, starting with slow-mo footage of the torch rally giving nazi salutes, then the camera pans to “where you saw me pepper spray that guy right there” in Cantwell’s words
The slowed down video shows several people using pepper spray ad also throws Cantwell throwing quite a few blows at someone.
“You’re not sure that I pepper sprayed you, right?” – Cantwell
Willis: You’re pepper-spraying people very near me and that prompted me to start running… Video evidence prompted me to say you were one of the peeople who sprayed me… – Willis
Cantwell: so now you’re saying you got pepper sprayed multiple times?
Cantwell is pausing and playing the video asking Willis to identify himself in the frame
Willis: in the top left corner you can see a mass of people on the statue, I think I’m there
Judge Moon sustains plaintiffs’ attorney Alex Conlon’s objection to Cantwell “inserting comments, making statements” while showing Willis the video
The video has changed to another angle now, Cantwell is asking Willis to again point himself out in the crowd. Cantwell’s angle here seems to be to try to absolve himself by drawing jurors’ attention to how he was involved in a fight w other people when he sprayed Willis(?)
Cantwell is playing a different video showing the torch rally tarting to gather on Nameless Field on UVA campus – he’s jumping around scrubbing through the video, it seems to show the march making its way across UVA campus that night.
Cantwell asks Willis to tell him “if you see a gun or you hear someone say white power” – apparently hoping to disprove that part of Willis’ testimony. Cantwell is now playing out the compilation of torch rally footage which seems to be a few minutes long
Cantwell pauses video – it shows the small group of students around the statue as the torch rally comes towards the statue from the rotunda -has Willis circle himself. “Ms Romero described the sound as if the earth was growling, you were able to hear the march as it approached?”
Cantwell: were you nervous when you started to hear people coming over the steps?
Willis: extremely nervous
Cantwell resumes the video – it shows the crowd filing in to surround the much smaller group at the statue. Willis asks Cantwell to pause the video saying he notices someone “with something strapped to his thigh”
(Cantwell had asked Willis to stop him to point out any guns since he testified he saw sidearms on torch rally goers)
Willis circles a man in the paused video” you can see when he’s in motion… on his left thigh… there’s something large and shiny”
Cantwell resumes play on the video, its quite an intense bizarre sound with all the slowed down screaming
Conlon: I’m gonna object to this line of questioning… it’s clear mr. Willis is not in this footage… asking his opinion as to whether he can see a gun in blurry footage…we’ve watched this four ties now… we’re gonna ask that this stop
Judge Moon: he’s not asking his opinion, he’s asking if he’s seen a gun..what is your Q?
Cantwell; let me know when you see the gun… he said he saw firearms… I”m trying to find those firearms
Conlon: we’re gonna be here all day… it’s like a nightmarish ‘Where’s Waldo’
Cantwell resumes play on the video at regular speed – torch marchers are continuing to descend the UVA rotunda steps to surround the Jefferson statue and the small counter-protest gathered around it
Cantwell: up until that point you just saw, did you see any violence in this video?
The video is now at the point where the neo-nazi crowd has densely surrounded the counter-protesters at the statue, more are still coming down the steps
The video has now played past the point of the violence at the statue to the point where the crowd started to disperse, Cantwell has closed the video
“I may want to call Mr. Willis again when I put on my case but thats all the questions I have for now…” – Chris Cantwell is done w his cross examination of Sines v. Kessler plaintiff and witness Devin Willis
James Fields’ lawyer David Campbel just asked Devin Willis a few quick questions basically confirming whether or not Willis was actually present for the car attack or hit by Fields’ car (no to both)
Attorney Elmer Woodard is filling in for James Kolenich over Zoom today, to cross-examine Devin Willis on behalf of Jason Kessler. We can’t see Elmer Woodard but we can hear him.
Willis: just to be clear I can’t see anyone on my screen
Elmer Woodard: ” I can see me…”
Elmer Woodard’s Zoom display seems to be showing up on the video feed properly now, he is wiggling his camera view around, we just saw a close up of his thumb and its now an upward view seeing his face from below from on his desk
Woodard: focus on the point in time when you’re at the UVA professor’s house for the spaghetti and soup dinner… before that point in time had you ever met Jason Kessler?
Willis: hadn’t met him but I’d seen him online
Woodard: when did you know about Mr. Kessler before the soup and spaghetti dinner?
Willis: there was no soup… i was a student in Charlottesville… I knew he was the organizer of Unite The Right and had done some rallies and livestreams before
Woodard: did the person who came in to the dinner make the announcement (Woodard’s phone rings) about the torch rally?… what was the compelling reason you chose to leave that (phone rings again) and go down to the monument…?
Willis: what was it about Kessler that made me protest him…?
Woodard: you had two choices here… you could stay at the dinner or hop in the car and go some distance to the monument… why was going to the monument more important than your spaghetti dinner afterglow?
Willis: I disagree w what Mr. Kessler stands for … and camaraderie, to be with my friends..
Woodard: So would it be fair to say that it was peer pressure combined with a desire to counter-protest?
Willis: I wouldn’t call it peer pressure, we wanted to counter protest
Woodard: when you got there was it light or dark outside?
Willis: it was dark
Woodard: so you get there to the monument…you’re familiar with where the rotunda is…?
Woodard: when you arrived at the monument, how many people were there?
Willis: I couldn’t say, more than ten… people that I knew, it was about ten of them
Woodard: and that # increased over time, didn’t it, to about 40 or 50, isn’t that right?
Willis: that isn’t right
Elmer Woodard’s phone rings again, Willis estimates 15-20 counter-protesters were present
Woodard: a bunch of more counter-protesters arrived, didn’t they?
Willis: I don’t know if they were counter-protesters
Woodard: were they carrying torches?
Woodard: how many total people were there clustered around the base of the monument?
Willis: I don’t really know, I only saw the people near me…
Woodard: you were on the west side of the monument up until the time that the fighting broke out on the southwest corner is that right?
Woodard is describing Willis’ movements around the statue during the incident
Woodard: let’s go back in time to when you arrive, you link arms with the people who were chanting… you had ten people chanting around the base of the monument, correct?
Willis: the chanting began when we saw the tiki torches
Woodard: before the torches arrived had you seen Jason Kessler?
Willis: I don’t remember seeing him
Woodard: you’re chanting ‘No Nazis, No KKK, No Fascist USA’, correct?
Willis: I’m not sure the order of the chants…
Woodard: y’all are chanting pretty loud aren’t you?
Woodard: you said you didn’t see Jason Kessler, did you hear him?
Willis: I didn’t know what he sounded like
Woodard: you’d said you’d seen his streams online so you’d be able to pick out his voice, correct?
Willis: I wouldn’t have been able to pick his voice out of that crowd
Woodard: You’d been told that it would be Kessler and a bunch of people.. as the torches are coming down the rotunda, its a heck of a lot more than just Jason Kessler and a handful of people correct?…so the person who told you about it being a handful of people was incorrect?
Judge Moon: sustained
Woodard: from the time the torches start coming down the steps to the time y’all had made it out by the eastern light and had your sign back up… did you see Jason Kessler at any time during that time?
Willis: I don’t know
Woodard’s phone rings again
Woodard: from that point in time… until the police cleared the area, did your see or hear Jason Kessler?
Conlon: objection – asked and answered, he’s already said he didn’t see or hear Kessler
Judge Moon: sustained
Woodard: you said the sign people clustered around you to protect you,.. was Natalie with you then?
Willis: Natalie was right next to me.. we were side by side at the center of the circle
Woodard: isn’t it true that one of the sign people stopped and yelled Black Lives Matter at the crowd instead of protecting you?
Woodard: I’m confused about when you say you were pepper sprayed
Willis: before and during our exit… they were pepper spraying the people who were protecting me but a human body doesn’t stop a large amount of pepper spray
Woodard: you’re just confusing me more, Mr. Willis
Judge Moon (to Woodard): don’t comment… ask him a question…
Woodard: were you hit repeatedly with pepper spray or moving through large clouds of pepper spray?
Willis: not sure I can tell the difference
Woodard is asking about the description of one of the same people Cantwell was fixated on when playing videos. Willis says he doesn’t remember them, Woodard replies “but you do remember getting pepper sprayed over there…”
Woodard: before you left… there was another pepper spray release, correct?
Willis: I don’t remember
Woodard: do you remember hearing somebody say ‘antifa gassed themselves?’
Woodard asks Willis if he is familiar with an Oktoberfest torch light march in Wisconsin and a litany of other events such as Connecticut ski resort event, involving torches. Conlon objects, Judge Moon seems impatient but says go ahead
Woodard asks Willis if he’s familiar with “the Spokane, Washington torch light parade”, Willis says no. Woodard says that’s all his questions, Woodard’s Zoom display was still on for a minute, we could see model airplanes hanging from his ceiling
Judge Moon calls a 20 min recess- at least one defense lawyer (Joshua Smith – representing Matt Parrott, Matt Heimbach & Traditionalist Worker Party) has yet to cross-examine Willis.
Parrott has been seen in court often, Heimbach hasn’t, but has been seen in the courthouse today
Judge Moon is back in court – Joshua Smith (representing Matt Parrott, Matt Heimbach & the Traditionalist WOrker Party aka TWPWP) is beginning to cross-examine Devin Willis
Smith: I just have some assorted Qs for you.. what’s a white supremacist?
Smith someone who believes white people are inherently superior
Smith: do you believe that individual races on average, excel as to certain things compared to others?
Willis: I don’t believe any one race or group of people is pre-determined to excel at one thing or another
Smith: when did you first become aware of the name David Matthew Parrott?
Willis: I don’t remember
Smith: when did you first become aware of Parrott?
Willis: from this case
Smith: what do you know about Heimbach & TWP?
Willis: they’re defendants in this case
Smith: at the torch rally, did you see Parrott or Heimbach or any member of their party?
Smith: how do you feel about Thomas Jefferson?
Conlon: objection, we’ve heard about this before
Willis: Thomas Jefferson has a complicated legacy
Smith: how did you end up around the statue that night?
Willis: I was following my peers
Smith: why were they there, were they trying to protect the statue or something?… Is it possible they didn’t really thing that through?…
Smith: when you say things like “no fascist USA”, do you think people are alarmed to hear such a thing… do you think the US in its current form is a fascist nation?
Willis: i think the chant means I prefer not to live in a fascist version of the USA…
Smith pulls up a transcript of Willis’ earlier testimony describing the chant “you will not replace us”, asks him to “finish his sentence” from Friday
Willis says the idea of Jewish people scheming to replace white ppl w ppl of color “is false”… “I don’t think people immigrate here to replace white people”
Smith: is it really about intention?
Conlon: objection, vague
Smith: I’ll withdraw the question
Smith pulls up Willis testimony from Friday in transcript where he describes feeling “indignant” at “hateful speech”
Smith: do you believe that slurs are not protected under the US constitution?
Conlon: objection, he’s not a lawyer it’s not a civics class
Judge Moon: sustained
Smith is asking Willis about comments he is quoted as making in an August 19, 2017 article in the Daily Progress, a local newspaper where he said “I understand the letter of the law is important…but I think virtue should be the priority”, Smith asks Willis what he meant by that
Willis: in the section above, I say i’m frustrated by the trend of the University adopting a passive attitude…
Smith: on p. 176 of that testimony, you say “I think torches and mobs are very well known things and… the torches, that’s a weird thing to use…” Why would you say that?
Willis: there’s not really any circumstances in 2017 that demand fire as the primary mode of lighting… so fire is an intentional thing to use… to harken back to days of Klan lynchings and other famous incidents of mob violence
Smith: does the Klan have a monopoly on torches?
Judge Moon: sustained
Smith: instead of a torch, one could use a candle or a lighter right?
Willis: maybe a lantern that isn’t an open flame
Smith: but there aren’t a ton of other ways to light the ways in front of you?
Willis: I think we named a few
Smith: do you think that aesthetic had a lasting affect?
Willis: it did, on me
Smith: do you think it did on other people?
Judge Moon: sustained
Smith: do you think ppl seemed to remember the rally for that torchlit aesthetic?
Willis: I think they remember the rally for a lot of reasons…
Smith: At the torch rally…did at any point in time…did you just try to walk past them, to walk out of the situation?
Smith is asking Willis about August 12 & the counter-protest event he helped plan in McGuffey Park.. asking about the ‘people’s Action for Racial Justice’ PARJ acronym and what he thinks ‘racial justice’ means
Smith:you said you later found yourself near Emancipation park, where the rallygoers had their permit for… how close were you to that park?
Willis: as close as the Jefferson-Madison regional library, so, close
Smith: I hope everyone remembers the map from earlier…
Judge Moon: I don’t think we could forget, we’ve seen it so many times
Smith: you said that the intention was not to block people from moving past you?
Willis: the intention was to stand up to hate in a symbolic fashion… sidewalks were available… other entrances were available
Smith: are you familiar with the mechanics of moving large groups of people… that if they stopped… they would just fall over themselves… start to trip over each other?
Willis: I don’t understand
Smith: well they continued to march… and that’s what you’re upset about
Conlon: objection, argumentative
Judge Moon: sustained
Smith: you said you needed to hide your face because you were afraid of being doxed… do you believe that when the media publishes a story about someone who is said to be a white nationalist and they publish their entire information on a news site, do you believe that’s doxing?
Judge Moon: what does that… no one’s been doxed
Smith: everyone at this table has been doxed… I”m curious if he sees it as ok
Judge Moon: I sustain the objection
Smith: you said you were confused as to why the rallygoers didn’t just turn themselves up a different road to go around you to get into the park, correct?
Wilis: I was confused why they didn’t just go on the sidewalk, yes
Smith: were you aware the rallygoers had coordinated with the police to go down that very road you were blocking?
Willis: I hadn’t considered that possibility
Smith asks Willis about his testimony saying he had seen firearms on people on August 12…”if this was a conspiracy to commit racially motivated violence…wouldn’t you expect some of them to be discharged…?”
Judge Moon: sustained
Smith: when standing in the street, blocking the way of the rallygoers, was that something you would refer to as direct action?
Willis: I don’t think so
Smith: how did you expect that encounter to go, on the street?
Willis: for them to go around
Smith: and if other people moved to continue blocking their way, what would they do then?
Willis: I don’t know
Smith: you said you believed at some point that the permit ‘wasn’t the best idea anymore?’
Willis: I said that, yes
Smith: did you know that a federal district court said that the permit needed to be honored…?
Judge Moon: they had a permit, and that’s it
Smith: did you agree with other people to join hands to block the route?
Willis: we never discussed it beforehand
Smith: you said you were pedestrians, what would you call the rallygoers with a permit who were told by the police to enter following that particular route?
Willis: I didn’t know about the police conversation… but yes they were walking, they were pedestrians
Smith: so what happens when the two groups intersect?
Willis: they run into the middle and they knock everybody down
Smith: but you didn’t see that as a serious possibility?
Smith: Did you do any advocacy for racial justice after Charlottesville?
Willis: I’m not sure, I was mostly doing stuff with the Black Student Alliance
Smith: You’re over at the Emancipation Park… and there’s this, your event at McGuffey Park is going on, what about McGuffey Park…
Willis: the state of emergency was called before I got back to McGuffey Park
Smith: I see.
Smith: you said that watching white nationalists celebrating was ‘discouraging’ and ’embarrassing’?
Willis:…I felt like we had failed… like I was personally responsible
Smith: you said one of the ways you believed you failed is the white nationalists… ‘out-chanted’ you?
Smith: so you believe that the First Amendment is a literal shouting match?
Judge Moon: sustained
Smith: You said that ‘no one is required’ to listen to what you called ‘hate speech’… do you believe that people who are… if I said no one is required to hate speech would you agree with that statement?… You understand that not listening can include ignoring it, right?
Conlon: objection, argumentative
Judge Moon: we don’t need to get into the philosophical questions and arguments…
Smith: You had talked about setting up… the McGuffey Park event… you talked about coordinating with the police department… are you aware of anyone else coordinating with the police?
Willis: I don’t know about anyone else coordinating with the police dept
Smith: You said white lives matter had a negative connotation, can you explain that?
Willis: probably just that people typically say it to silence people who are saying Black Lives Matter
Smith: when you silence them do you mean it causes them to physically not be able to talk?
Conlon: objection, argumentative
Judge Moon: we’ve discussed this so much all day, you’ve heard him testify
Smith: would it surprise you to know that some of the defendants in this case have been standing up for what you would call ‘racial justice’ for decades now?
Conlon: objection, facts not in evidence
Smith: would you try to shut down a white student alliance [at UVA?]
Judge Moon: sustained
Smith do you believe that the events of that weekend made you not want to pursue a career of racial justice advocacy any further?
Willis: I had to stop what I was doing… for a very long time… to recover
Smith: do you think anyone on the other side of the case… felt similarly?
Judge Moon: we’re not here to talk about that, he’s a plaintiff in the case
Smith: you said ‘I think they have a right to hate me,I have a right to love me’ – in your opinion, is what you’re saying there- you have a right to exist, isn’t that similar to what the defendants are saying when they say ‘you will not replace us’ they have a right to exist?
Judge Moon to Smith: You are arguing with the witness
Smith: I’m just asking a question…. they just seem so similar
Conlon: objection, it’s not relevant
Moon: I sustain the objection
Smith: do you believe that pro-white advocates, for example the defendants… have the right to exist as well?
Willis: yes, they have the right to exist
Smith: do you believe they have the right to assemble peacefully?
Willis: Yes, they have the right to assemble peacefully
Smith: do you believe that your actins on August 12 allowed those pro-white advocates to assemble peacefully?
Conlon: obection, that’s not the question here
Smith: no further questions, I have everything I need
Defense attorney William Rebrook is calling in to cross-examine Willis – Rebrook represents Jeff Schoep, the National Socialist Movement & The Nationalist Front
Rebrook: after the event, how did you know which parties to sue?
Moon: this falls under attorney-client privilege… it’s a massive event, you talk to a lawyer, the lawyer advises you…
Rebrook: after the event were you able to idenfity the different logos of the different groups that took place?
Willis: at the time… I was able to identify some logos more than others
Rebrook: could you specifically identify National Socialist Movement and differentiate them from the others?
Willis: I don’t think i could have done that at the time
Rebrook: and would you have been able to identify Mr. Jerr Schoep?
Willis: I dont think so
Samantha Froelich Deposition Video
The plaintiffs are getting ready to play the video of a deposition of former Identity Evropa member Samantha Froelich – Cantwell is objecting to the introduction of the deposition
Elmer Woodard is also objecting on Jason Kessler’s behalf saying there “may be hearsay responses in the deposition” … “to the extent that there is hearsay i’d like to put an objection to that on the record beforehand…”
Kaplan: you honor we submitted these… October 4… they had opportunity to object…
Judge Moon: I overrule the objections
Samantha Froelich’s deposition video is playing now – asked to define the alt-right, Froelich calls it ” an umbrella” of groups w “far right ideology”, “I was an official member of the alt-right from December 31 2017- October 2017” and no longer considers herself a member
Froelich: I had a boyfriend and we were deeply in love, something happened…we had separated for about a year and a half…when he and I reconnected his general tone was much darker… I remember telling my family that I felt like I was living with a ghost…
he would speak this language that i didn’t understand… one day i confronted him and he told me he was a fascist and he didn’t want to be with anyone who didn’t support that… I dove in… I just wanted his approval…” -Froelich
Froelich says she “carries a lot of guilt and shame with me” about her time in the alt-right.
She joined Identity Evropa after seeing a video with Nathan Damigo on The Young Turks talking about how he loved white people… “he was calm, collected, and that gave me the impression that this group… was a group I could get behind”
Froelich joined Identity Evropa “the week of Christmas 2016”, says IE had “maybe 250-300” members when she joined
Froelich describes her interviewer w IE, Reinhard Wolff “who we now know as Patrick Casey” – says he asked her about “an ethnostate… what are my thoughts on the JQ… what I do for hobbies…”
Froelich says she was asked by Patrick Casey about her “red pill process” – the “process of being a normal person into a member of the alt-right”
Asked about being asked by Patrick Casey about an “ethnostate”, Froelich says it means “a peice of land or country that only white people inhabit”
“The ultimate goal of Identity Evropa was to create or participate in the creation of a white ethnostate”. Asked to define the JQ, Froelich says it stands for the “Jewish question” and “whether or not you believe Jewish people are white”
“Part of being in Identity Evropa is to be in the mindset that Jewish people are not white, that they are subjecting white culture, that they have a stronghold in media, banking, film.. and are promoting degeneracy… the extinction of white people” – Samantha Froelich
Froelich says that after the “Battle of Berkeley”, she was involved in screening Identity Evropa membership applications. Says the incident of Nathan Damigo punching a woman in the face in Berkeley led to an increase in applications
Who was the leader of Identity Evropa when you were a member?
Froelich: It started with Nathan Damigo and then it was Eli Mosley until I left
Froelich confirms Eli Mosley and Eliott Kline “are the same person”
Prior to Kline taking over as the leader, what was his role with IE?
Froelich: I think he would call himself an activist… a hype man… he would go into public spaces and try to make a scene to promote IE… a spokesperson….
Did you ever understand the significance of the name Eli Mosley?
Froelich: his first name obviously, but Mosley comes from a British fascist named Oswald Mosley…
Did you ever come to have any sort of official title or role within IE?
Samantha Froelich: yes… I was the woman’s coordinator…and.. became the membership coordinator
Were women allowed to make decisions in IE without the opinion of a man?
Froelich: not really
How many interviews did you conduct on behalf of IE?
Froelich: at least 100 maybe up to 200
How many applications did you review?
What was IE’s stated mission as you understood it?
Froelich: something to the ffect of being a fraternity of men and women of awakened European heritage… to provide a safe space for ppl like that to exist in the world
Do you believe that IE’s stated belief matched up w what their belief actually was?
Froelich: no… it’s goal was to get young men and women while in college and get them into the alt-right… to get them to make policy and build the ethnostate… it wasn’t just a baking club for Irish people…
While in a leadership position in IE did you hear any discussion of optics?
What were those discussions taht you were a part of along these lines?
Froelich: optics were paramount to IE… when interviewing someone make sure their room looks clean…. speak w eloquence, don’t use racial slurs in public….wear slacks and loafers…
look feminine… it was very strict…they wanted to look presentable, they wanted… I would say that it was like being wolves in sheep’s clothing… – Froelich
Moving beyond the optics, what did you come to believe IE’s views were with respect to Jewish people?
Froelich: IE… there was a simultaneous… the word’s not intimidating but they were almost jealous of Jewish people for having a sense of tribalism.. but they wanted to exterminate Jewish people… plenty of poeple in IE were interested in the death and extinction of Jewish ppl
what was IE’s views w respect to Black ppl?
Froelich: they were effectively subhuman… there was a ‘one drop rule’ for membership in IE
Did you come to understand that the creation of the ethnostate would be an inherently violent process?
Did you come to understand IE’s ideology as violent?
Froelich: IE would claim to only be pro-white… the belief is that white people need to fight back..and be ready for this war that ppl think is going to happen…
In your time in the alt-right did you become familiar w certain language or lingo…?
Froelich: yes…as I was consuming media you become familiar w the words that they would use…
Have you heard the term Turner Diaries, what are they?
Froelich: the Turner Diaries is a book about a guy trying to build an underground army of white people… leads to a climax which is the ‘day of the rope’… where all white normative ppl drag everyone out of their house that doesn’t meet that description, hangs them on lampposts
Who did you hear reference the Turner Diaries during your time at IE?
Froelich: A lot of people
Did you hear Eli Mosley talk about the Day of the Rope and the Turner Diaries?
Froelich: Yes, a lot… he would say to me if i acted out of turn, “we’ll get you on the day of the rope”…
Froelich is asked to explain the 14 words, a common white supremacist mantra originated by David Lane of the white supremacist terror group The Order (a group based on the Turner Diaries)
were the 14 words something you heard discussed in IE?
Froelich: it was a salutation, a prayer…. the 14 words, 1488… that was all the time said
Froelich explains the number 88 as numerology for ‘Heil Hitler’
Have you heard the term Right Wing Death Squads?
Froelich: oh, yes
What are right wing death squads?
Froelich: …people that would claim to act as security or they were starting their own group… I was never really sure… people would say that they were in it and they were usually people that worked out a lot or were in the military and had some interest in being ‘security’
Did you hear the term Right Wing Death Squads discussed in the alt right?
Froelich: anytime there was an event with a need for security or something would happen, someone would say yeah, Right Wing Death squads are coming
Did you ever hear Mr. Mosley discuss Right Wing Death Squads in relation to Unite The Right, having ‘Right Wing Death Squads’ at Unite The Right?
Have you heard the phrase RaHoWa, what does RaHowa mean?
Froelich: RaHoWa stands for racial holy war, the idea that there would be a violenct confrontation between white people and every other race… a fight until all but one race is dead
Did you hear RaHoWa discussed by IE members, while you were a member?
Yes… ther would be discord servers where ppl were encouraged to exercise or eat healthy in preparation for RaHoWa… ppl should homestead in preparation for RaHoWa..
Froelich says Eli Mosley ‘regularly’ discussed RaHoWa in relation to Unite The Right
Froelich asked in the deposition video to explain GTK which stands for ‘Gas the K*kes’… ” “to imitate what the Nazis did [to Jews] in World War 2”, says she heard the term often during her time in IE
Froelich describes hearing Unite The Right organizer Eli Mosley use the term GTK, talk about putting people in an oven… says Eli Mosley wanted to murder all Jews
Froelich tells the deposition interviewer that the concept of the “final solution” was discussed “favorably” within Identity Evropa and Eli Mosley was often “very excited at the prospect of killing Jewish people”
Judge Moon calls for the deposition video playback to stop and resume tomorrow morning, is now excusing the jury as its almost 5 PM here in Charlottesville
Some of the attorneys are still in court talking but Judge Moon is definitely gone from the room