Charlottesville Joins Suit Against Paramilitary Groups Connected to August 12
Charlottesville is joining a suit to prevent unauthorized paramilitary groups from returning to the city.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Charlottesville is joining a suit to prevent what it calls unauthorized paramilitary groups from returning to the city.
Georgetown Law Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection filed a complain Thursday, October 12, asking Charlottesville Circuit Court to, "prohibit key Unite the Right organizers and an array of participating private paramilitary groups and their commanders from coming back to Virginia to conduct illegal paramilitary activity."
The controversial rally drew large crowds and heavy police presence into downtown Charlottesville Saturday, August 12. Demonstrators and counterprotesters began gathering around Emancipation Park just after 9 a.m. Multiple clashes between opposing groups broke out, and an unlawful assembly was declared at around 11:30 a.m., which prompted riot police to respond.
A release from Georgetown Law said, "Unfortunately, the City of Charlottesville, its residents, and its businesses bore the brunt of the damage on August 12. This suit seeks to prevent unauthorized paramilitary organizations from inflicting such harms on the community in the future."
In an open meeting Thursday morning, the Charlottesville City Council voted to join the lawsuit.
"These freelancing armies brought threats and outright violence. Instead of persuasion arguments alliances and compromise, they instead sought only force. Instead of democracy they only see the Wild West where might makes right," Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer said.
Several neighborhood associations and businesses in the downtown area are listed among the 16 plaintiffs.
"We, and local council from Michie Hamlett, have just filed a lawsuit and behalf of the City of Charlottesville, homeowners associations, and local businesses to prevent from such an invasion from happening again," said attorney Mary McCord.
The suit lists 22 defendants, including militia groups from across the U.S., and Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler.
The defendants face five counts involving actions from August 12, including "falsely assuming the functions of peace officers" and "strict subordination."
The complaint alleges that rally organizers sought to recruit private militia groups and that attendees encouraged one another to "prepare for war.”
"Virginia statues forbid paramilitary activity and the false assumption of peacekeeping functions," McCord said.
Also in the release from Georgetown Law, "The presence of unauthorized militias and paramilitary organizations in Charlottesville on August 12 gravely impaired the City's efforts to guarantee public safety and provide services to over 45,000 residents, and tarnished its reputation as a desirable place to live, attend school, and visit."
"It can be stopped with the legal relief we are asking for under Virginia's constitution and under our laws," said the mayor.
Legal anaylst Lloyd Snook said the main argument in the lawsuit is who controls militia groups at events: "Under the constitution laws of Virginia, militias are supposed to be under the control of the governor. Yet these folks clearly were not," he said.
Snook adds, "The folks who have drafted this complaint do not intend it to be a Second Amendment issue. Some people may try to make it a Second Amendment issue."
List of Plaintiffs
- City of Charlottesville
- Champion Brewing Co., LLC
- Mas Tapas
- Maya Restaurant
- Quality Pie
- Rapture Restaurant and Night Club
- Alakazam Toys and Gifts
- Alight Fund LLC
- Angelo Jewelry
- Hays + Ewing Design Studio, PC
- Wolf Ackerman Design, LLC
- Williams Pentagram Corporation
- Belmont-Carlton Neighborhood Association
- Little High Neighborhood Association
- Woolen Mills Neighborhood Association
List of Defendants:
- Pennsylvania Light Foot Militia
- New York Light Foot Militia
- Virginia Minutemen Militia
- American Freedom Keepers, LLC
- American Warrior Revolution
- Redneck Revolt
- Socialist Rifle Association
- Traditionalist Worker Party
- Vanguard America
- League of the South, Inc.
- National Socialist Movement
- Jason Kessler
- Elliott Kline
- Christian Yingling
- George Curbelo
- Francis Marion
- Ace Baker
- Matthew Heimbach
- Cesar Hess
- Spencer Borum
- Michael Tubbs
- Jeff Schoep