The following comments were provided to local media from Pam Starsia, in solidarity with Veronica Fitzhugh.
Although Veronica was not present on the downtown Mall last night, that action can’t be taken out of context of her arrest the night before, which happened because she is being targeted by Jason Kessler. Her arrest continues his pattern of abusing the legal system to systematically target black anti-racism activists in our community. Disturbingly, Kessler appears to have the full weight of Charlottesville’s criminal punishment system working at his behest: the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office filed a misdemeanor assault charge against Veronica (despite the fact that Kessler himself admits she has never touched him), and CPD shockingly sent no fewer than six police vehicles to arrest Veronica on Wednesday night (despite the fact that misdemeanor arrest warrants – including the warrant for Kessler’s own assault charge – are almost always served by mere summons, not arrest). Kessler can also be heard on the video from last night telling a police officer that Lt. Mooney is working with him to “investigate” more of Kessler’s fictitious grievances against activists who are rejecting his violent ideology.
No one has harmed or threatened Jason Kessler in any way. However, he is learning that his abhorrent views have not found as much harbor in Charlottesville as he had hoped, and he is lashing out at those he blames for the unpopularity of his racist neo-Nazi ideology, including Veronica and whoever else he’ll be lobbing false accusations at next. What Kessler doesn’t seem to understand is that no one or two people are responsible for this collective rejection by our community of the hatred and violence he preaches on a daily basis. His presence, and his recruiting of other like-minded white supremacists to his cause, represents a real and immediate threat to the safety of our community, particularly to black and brown people and other marginalized communities. That threat is not 9 to 5 or part time, it is constant. And so, to keep our community safe, people of conscience must be committed to speaking out against known Nazis whenever and wherever they encounter them–but particularly when they are brazen enough in their violent ideology to hold a recruiting meeting in a public space in the center of town.
If you need to understand more about why Kessler poses such an immediate danger, I wrote more about this threat today here.