Predicting Violence: Solidarity Cville Revisits its Warnings for August 12

In the weeks before the fatal “Unite the Right” rally on August 12, Solidarity Cville presented significant evidence of threats of violence against the city and various community leaders. It is time to look back on these warnings to evaluate how accurate they were, to explore what efforts were undertaken to minimize them, and to establish a credible record that the City of Charlottesville was warned.

Threat 1: Internal Threats Against Headliners from Three Percenters

The first series of documented threats involved a chatlog between CJ Ross, a self-identified Three Percenter, and an anonymous third party. These chatlogs were provided to Solidarity Cville with consent from the anonymous third party.

Did the threats pan out?

This answer to this is both yes and no. The overt violence never occurred, in thanks to the dedication to Charlottesville activists who reached out to Mr. Ross to hold a frank discussion about the event and establish common ground to avoid violence. Mr. Ross admitted his language was over-the-top and committed to nonviolence and to keep communication open with activists. These commitments were met on August 12.

The more general undertone did in fact take place. The presence of armed militias amplified the sense of danger and the tension of the day. Police have used the presence of armed milias to justify their inaction, which led to more street violence. And more broadly, after August 12, we have seen the right fracture and fall apart. Although Mr. Ross was not responsible for this, the general level of distrust among right-wing factions was palpable before the event, and after the event it has only amplified, leading to more extremism.

Threat 2: Public Facebook Posts Promising Violence Against Anti-Racist Activists

The second series of documented threats involved public-facing Facebook posts, many by Mr. Ross, but some by various other individuals.

Did the threats pan out?

As before, the bridge-building between Mr. Ross and Charlottesville activists did help reduce violence. However, a significant amount of street violence took place when UTR racist rallygoers repeatedly left the park with weapons to engage in combat with anti-racist and anti-fascist counter-protestors, leaving many injured.

Threat 3: Threats from the Daily Stormer

Multiple posts on Daily Stormer call for violence.

Did the threats pan out?

Yes. One post called for “military guys” to “crack skulls” of Black citizens. On the afternoon of August 12, several men wearing various uniforms beat Deandre Harris in the Market St. Parking Garage, leaving him badly injured, including a head injury.

Threat 4: The Warlocks Motorcycle Gang Providing Security

Jason Kessler, organizer of Unite the Right, posed with several bikers, ostensibly from the Warlocks Motorcycle Gang, and insinuated they would be providing security for the rally.

Did the threats pan out?

Less than a week after Solidarity Cville documented this threat, the Warlocks organization disavowed any relationship with Jason Kessler. They were not present during Unite the Right in any official capacity, let alone an (illegal) security capacity.

Threat 5: Miscellaneous Online Threats

Several Facebook posts promised violence at the rally.

Did the threats pan out?

Yes, although not per se by the individuals making them. One person said, “I say take them all out together.” On August 12, James Fields drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, injuring 30 and killing Heather Heyer.

Noted local racist Hannah Zarski affirmed another user’s demand to create a “security force.” Multiple militant formations were observed throughout the day. Another person emphatically suggested to “show up with guns” and to “take out our enemies… through legal acts of self defense.” The deliberate provocations of violence to encourage self-defense and third-party self-defense arguments were on display all day.

Summary

In the end, had the City of Charlottesville listened to Solidarity Cville’s demands to revoke the permit, much bloodshed could have been avoided. Most of the threats presented were manifest. Those that weren’t either involved deliberate, exhaustive effort on behalf of local activists to prevent violence, or were a result of groups distancing themselves as far as possible from Jason Kessler long before the event started.

The City of Charlottesville has no excuse for ill-preparation. They were warned about what was coming. They had every opportunity to prevent it and failed.