Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Suit Over Charlottesville Neo-Nazi Rally May Proceed

In Sines v. Kessler, (WD VA, July 9, 2018), a Virginia federal district court, in a 62-page opinion, held that a group of Charlottesville residents can move ahead with most of their claims for injuries growing out of the racist and anti-Semitic August 2017 "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville. The court summarized its opinion:
In 1871, Congress passed a law “directed at the organized terrorism in the Reconstruction South[.]” ... 42 U.S.C. § 1985. Over a hundred and forty years later ... the Defendants ..., including the Ku Klux Klan, various neo-Nazi organizations, and associated white supremacists, held rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia. Violence erupted.... Plaintiffs, allege that this violence was no accident. Instead, they allege the Defendants violated the 1871 Act and related state laws by conspiring to engage in violence against racial minorities and their supporters. The Defendants retort that they were simply engaged in lawful, if unpopular, political protest and so their conduct is protected by the First Amendment. While ultimate resolution of what happened at the rallies awaits another day, the Court holds the Plaintiffs have plausibly alleged the Defendants formed a conspiracy to commit the racial violence that led to the Plaintiffs’ varied injuries. Accordingly, the Plaintiffs’ claims largely survive, although one Defendant is dismissed and other claims are pared down.
WTVR reports on the decision.