Free Speech Victory: ACLU Defends Unite the Right!
On Monday, Charlottesville City Council moved Unite the Right – originally planned for Lee Park – to McIntire Park. As justification for such a move, city officials cited an expected turnout exceeding 400, which was the maximum allowed by the permit. This, of course, was merely a rationalization for moving the event to a less desirable location.
Shortly thereafter, Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler announced that the rally was going to take place in Lee Park regardless of what city council wanted. Law enforcement, according to Kessler and other organizers, agreed to maintain order at Lee Park even if the permit was successfully revoked.
In light of such a flagrant assault on the civil liberties of Kessler et al., both the Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Rutherford Institute (another civil liberties organization) sent a letter to Charlottesville city officials. In the letter, they threatened legal action if Kessler is forbidden from holding the event at Lee Park.
The letter reads:
As organizations committed to protecting constitutional and civil rights, we demand that the city withdraw its letter to Jason Kessler of Aug. 7, 2017, revoking and otherwise rescinding the permit for a demonstration in Emancipation Park on Aug. 12, 2017, and provide assurances that the City will allow the ‘Unite the Right’ demonstration as previously planned and approved by operation of law. We will need a response to this letter by noon Aug. 9, 2017
This – much like Richard Spencer’s legal triumph against Auburn University after it tried to cancel his speaking event – constitutes a great victory for the Alt-Right. Moreover, it’s evidence that our civil liberties are under attack; and that, if we fail to stand up against such injustice, we will be complicit in the rise of left-wing authoritarianism.
Unite the Right will be held on Saturday, August 12 at Lee Park in Charlottesville, Virginia. Both Henrik and I will be there, streaming the speeches and providing on the ground coverage.
I hope to see you there!