Jason Kessler organized the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville last August. It was the largest white nationalist rally in decades, and it was violent — leaving one dead and many injured. And now, Kessler wants to organize an anniversary rally.
So who is this guy, and why would he want to try this again?
Alt right leaders now say they didn’t really ask that question themselves the first time around. Kessler is 34, lives in Charlottesville, and, according to allegations in court papers, has been employed twice in the last seven years, for five months each time. His website says that before activism, Kessler “did various working class jobs from dishwasher and gym technician to truck driver and handyman.”
He wasn’t always a far-right activist. Kessler says he attended one Occupy Wall Street event, and voted for Barack Obama. But in early 2016, Kessler became interested in white identity politics, and later that year, launched a fight against an African-American member of the Charlottesville city council. He attended a tiki torch rally in Charlottesville in May 2017 that was a kind of preview of his own.
The Unite the Right rally was hyped across the white supremacist internet. But Kessler’s support dissolved quickly.
He was denounced for a crass tweet about the counter-protester who died in Charlottesville, and he fought with alt right leaders over his decision to hold a press conference, alone, the day after the rally. (He was chased by a mob.) Then he fought with co-organizer Eli Mosley over planning, optics, and who might be secretly Jewish.
Various alt right leaders have warned others to stay away from Unite the Right 2. That includes Chris Cantwell, who’s been banned from the state of Virginia for five years after pleading guilty to assault and battery. Cantwell recently told VICE News, “Jason is completely incapable of handling this, and it’s way too fucking dangerous.”
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