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Jason Kessler, organiser of Virginia far-right protest, chased by angry crowd as he blames police for violence

'Her name was Heather ... Her blood is on your hands ... what do you have to say for yourself?'

Rachel Roberts
Monday 14 August 2017 09:29 BST
The President has allowed racism to flourish
The President has allowed racism to flourish (Reuters)

One of the organisers of the far-right rally that descended into deadly violence in Charlottesville was chased away by protesters as he tried to give a press conference.

Before Jason Kessler fled the baying crowd, he blamed police in Virginia for not preventing the violent clashes between white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other far-right groups on one side and counter-protesters on the other.

Mr Kessler, a 34-year-old white nationalist from Charlottesville, organised the Unite the Right rally to protest against a vote by the city’s government to remove a statue of a Confederate general, Robert E Lee, from a local park.

He returned to the town the day after the shocking clashes which left a 32-year-old Heather Hayer dead. A 20-year-old man from Ohio is facing murder charges.

Mr Kessler’s attempts to address the press pack were drowned out by chants of “murderer”, “shame” and “thug”.

Largely drowned out by jeers, he said: “Today I just want to come before you, and I want to tell you the story of what really happened before this narrative is allowed to continue spinning out of control.

“The hate that you hear around you? That is the anti-white hate that fuelled what happened yesterday. What happened yesterday was the result of Charlottesville police officers refusing to do their job.”

He continued: “I disavow anything that led to folks getting hurt. It is a sad day in our constitutional democracy when we are not able to have civil liberties like the First Amendment (free speech).

“That’s what leads to rational discussion and ideas breaking down and people resorting to violence.”

After a couple of minutes, the press conference descended into complete chaos as Mr Kessler was mobbed and chased away, protected by the riot police he had previously criticised.

“Her name was Heather, sir!” a man shouted at Mr Kessler as he was escorted to a police station.

“Her name was Heather, Jason. Her blood is on your hands ... what do you have to say for yourself?”

Mr Kessler serves as the president of Unity and Security for America, a grassroots organisation that claims it is dedicated to “defending Western civilization”. He describes himself as a journalist, activist and author.

Members of white supremacist groups including the Ku Klux Klan and from neo-Nazi and alt-right groups descended on Charlottesville for the rally, scheduled for Saturday.

Violence broke out on Friday, ahead of the planned protest, when hundreds of white supremacists marched through the university’s Emancipation Park.

Members of opposing groups came to blows in the street while pepper spray was released – with the police reportedly doing little to intervene.

As tensions rose, a state of emergency was declared by the authorities and the rally was declared to be an unlawful gathering, before the car was driven into the crowd.

Donald Trump was roundly criticised when he at first spoke of “this egregious display of violence on many sides” without condemning the neo-Nazi groups. He later explicitly attacked the far-right groups.

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