Jason Kessler, the disgraced white supremacist, UVA graduate, and organizer of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in August that left one person dead, has been charged with a felony count of perjury. The charge originates with statements made back in January when Kessler lied about a criminal complaint in Albemarle County. On January 22, Kessler gave sworn testimony that a man named James Justin Taylor assaulted him while he was collecting signatures for a petition on Charlottesville’s downtown mall.
The incident, as told by Taylor, resulted in Kessler punching Taylor for not wanting to provide his signature. It ended in Kessler’s arrest. The next day Kessler swore an “assault complaint” against Taylor, saying, “[He] grabbed the petition and my arm, violently shaking to separate the two.” Prosecutors were able to prove later that Kessler’s account of the altercation was false by acquiring video surveillance footage, resulting in the charges against Taylor being dropped.
According to the Washington Post, an arrest order was handed down around 3pm yesterday. It is not currently known if Kessler is in custody.
Kessler, a well known white supremacist blogger, gained notoriety over the course of the year by teaming up with other supremacist, nationalist, and alt-right groups to protest the removal of a statue glorifying Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville’s Emancipation Park. This included well known alt-right personalities like Richard Spencer and Nazi Chris Cantwell. Kessler’s provocations eventually culminated in the Unite the Right rally on August 12 in Charlottesville – the largest gathering of white supremacists, nationalists, and alt-right groups in decades. The rally ended in a domestic terrorist attack which left upwards of 30 people wounded and one person, local Charlottesville resident Heather Heyer, killed.
A felony perjury charge in Virginia can lead to between one and ten years in prison and a $2,500 fine; however, according to legal experts, these kinds of charges are rare and and hard to prosecute – unless video evidence is presented, like in this case. Kessler is also facing a $3 million lawsuit over his coordination and planning of the Unite the Right rally. Also named in the lawsuit was James Alex Fields Jr., the terrorist who conducted the vehicular attack on August 12.