Apart from anything else, Charlottesville Untold: Inside Unite The Right by Anne Wilson Smith is a powerful antidote to the ridiculous Regime Media headlines about “hate on trial” in the current Sines vs. Kessler civil lawsuit against organizers of the August 12, 2017 Unite The Right rally in defense of the Robert E. Lee statue [Hate on trial in Virginia, four years after deadly extremist rally, by Odette Yousef, October 25, 2021]. Wilson Smith’s book does what the Regime Media has deliberately refused to do—analyze the legal, logistical, and tactical decisions made by both organizers and city and state officials. (Full disclosure: my own work for VDARE.com, e.g., “The System Revealed: Antifa, Virginia Politicians And Police Work Together to Shut Down Unite the Right,” is cited several times.)
Those who have read the independent “Heaphy Report” report, commissioned by the city itself and resulting in the little-noticed forced resignation of black police chief Al Thomas, may think they have little to learn. But Wilson Smith’s book is especially valuable because it provides further evidence that UTR organizers scrupulously tried to avoid violence. In short, the wrong people are on trial right now—state and local officials should be forced to answer for their unconscionable actions. And the “mainstream” conservatives who didn’t speak up at the time enabled the deplatforming campaign that ultimately took down President Trump himself.
The gang of wealthy Leftists waging private lawfare in Sines vs. Kessler—n.b. because law enforcement authorities concluded there was no basis for prosecution—allege the defendants “conspired to plan, promote, and carry out the violent events” that took place at UTR [Charlottesville: Why are the ‘Unite The Right’ organizers on trial?, by Bernd Debusmann Jr., BBC, October 26, 2021]. Yet Wilson Smith’s book, heavily focused on UTR organizer Jason Kessler, shows that UTR leadership was in fact pitifully eager to cooperate with law enforcement.
Perhaps the key turning point: the earlier July 8 Ku Klux Klan rally, held despite Kessler’s pleas that it not go ahead. It’s difficult to imagine that anyone in the KKK truly thought this rally would be productive, and given what we are learning about federal law enforcement’s work in protests, I suspect their motives and who they were really working for [Meet Ray Epps: The Fed-Protected Provocateur Who Appears To Have Led The Very First 1/6 Attack On The U.S. Capitol, Revolver, October 25, 2021]. But the Charlottesville police duly protected the small group from Leftist counter-demonstrators, leading to accusations that “Cops and Klan go hand in hand.” After the rally, the police declared an “unlawful assembly” because Leftists would not disperse and even assaulted one officer.
Wilson Smith suggests that the “Klan rally incident exacerbated distrust between law enforcement and left-wing groups in Charlottesville.”
I disagree. Antifa certainly refused to cooperate to law enforcement, but that is nothing new. It’s core to their entire approach and political outlook. One Lee statue supporter quoted by Wilson Smith said that the Klan rally was used to “prime the crowds” for Unite The Right. But instead it “primed” law enforcement—the police protection afforded the Klansmen was glaringly absent at UTR.
Thus Wilson Smith, quoting the Heaphy Report, notes that the
…Legal Justice Aid Center, National Lawyers Guild, ACLU, and the Rutherford Institute sent a letter to Governor McAuliffe, Charlottesville City Councilors, City Manager Jones, and Chief Thomas which criticized the ‘outsized and militaristic governmental response’ to counter-protesters on July 8. (Links added).
Police and law enforcement were thus put on the defensive because they were accused of protecting “white supremacy”—presumably, by not letting the crowds attack the small group of Klansmen.
In fact, Wilson Smith, drawing on the Heaphy Report, argues that law enforcement went out of its way not to prepare for the much larger Unite The Right gathering, where right-wing demonstrators would be more numerous and capable of defending themselves, despite explicit warnings from other law enforcement bodies:
Despite the willingness of law enforcement entities from other parts of the country to share what they had learned from their experiences with similar rallies and protests, Captain Mitchell admitted to Heaphy Report investigators that “the input from outside jurisdictions was not a factor in planning for August 12th.” Some police officers reported their impression that the CPD leadership was preparing for the rally as though it was a concert and not a potentially violent confrontation. (Charlottesville Untold, Chapter 3, GOVERNMENT PREPARATIONS)
Was the resulting violence the result of conspiracy or incompetence? Maybe a bit of both. Virginia State Police and local police apparently couldn’t even communicate on the same radio channel that same day. The State Police had a detailed plan that city police apparently didn’t even know about until it was too late. The Virginia State Police, the Albemarle County Police Department, and the Director of Emergency Management at the University of Virginia Health Systems were all reportedly frustrated by communications problems with the Charlottesville police. The city’s belated attempt to move the demonstration to McIntire Park rather than Lee Park, struck down by a federal judge, added to the confusion.
Again, quoting the Heaphy Report, Wilson Smith reports “no officers were assigned to open areas in which protesters and counter-protesters would interact.” Chief Al Thomas reportedly said of protesters, “I’m not going to get them in and out.” This forced UTR demonstrators to wade through Antifa. The result was inevitable. Wilson Smith reports: “Medical personnel would later report that most of the injuries that occurred that day happened along the entrance and exit routes to and from the park.”
Wilson Smith notes that Kessler himself, according to the Heaphy Report, was “the most informative human source CPD had in advance of August 12.” Even so, she reports, police did not respond to communications from UTR demonstrators on August 12. Rather than clearing a path to the UTR demonstration, police forced participants to be dropped off blocks away and walk through Antifa. Once again, drawing on the Heaphy Report, she emphasizes that the Charlottesville Police Department did not want to engage the crowd or prevent fights at all but instead “declare the event unlawful and disperse the crowd.”
I can personally attest to this. Wilson Smith chronicles that it was precisely the Leftist “clergy” who were shouting the vilest and crudest insults and enmeshing themselves with violent Antifa. Walking though the Antifa was the most dangerous part of the day.
In the years since, I’ve wondered that, if a pro-Lee demonstrator had been killed (and not just injured) on that day, whether the coverage would have changed. But the gloating tone in most media coverage over the death of Ashli Babbitt (whom George W. Bush disgracefully linked to 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta) has convinced me it wouldn’t have made a difference.
The ultimate reason the Unite The Right atrocity matters: it was the anarcho-tyrannical playbook that has been used in the years since. Law enforcement in Charlottesville was selective and arbitrary, leading to the absurd situation where it was the militia groups, for example, the Pennsylvania Lightfoot Militia—who reportedly were the most even-handed and effective. Police simply sat back and watched UTR demonstrators and Antifa duel. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe—currently attempting to get his snout back into the gubernatorial trough—breached protocol and authorized a state of emergency at 11:28 a.m., without waiting for local officials. At 11:31 a.m., Chief Thomas declared the state of unlawful assembly. Police then pushed UTR attendees out of the park and into the mob, thus leading to running battles throughout the city.
While the police were determined and forceful in driving the demonstrators out of Lee Park, they simply allowed Leftists to block the roads. In other words, rather than preventing an unlawful assembly, the police broke up a lawful assembly to enable an unlawful assembly. “Steve,” a local quoted by Wilson Smith, said police forced evacuation from the park “in the most dangerous direction possible,” but then did nothing to rein in the chaos. “The police presence might as well have been nonexistent,” he said.
I’d go further. Had the police not been there at all, there would have been less violence. Separation between the Antifa and the demonstrators had already been achieved by the “shield wall” of demonstrators who were successful guarding the perimeter of Lee Park until police drove them away.
It was in this atmosphere of chaos that Officer Tammy Shiflett, a school resource officer, abandoned her post on the road where James Field would later collide with Heather Heyer. Officer Shiflett “felt she was in danger.” While it’s be easy to sneer, she was surrounded by scores of Leftists and, in her words, “I have nobody here to help me.”
Wilson Smith helpfully provides a transcript of Faith Goldy’s livestream of the James Fields crash, showing the chaos that preceded the fatal crash. Her reporting, among the few truthful accounts that came out of Charlottesville that day, would eventually cost her her job with Ezra Levant’s Western Standard when she went on to do a podcast with a Daily Stormer correspondent.
Perhaps the biggest problem with Unite The Right was the division between organizers and speakers. Many had different goals and agendas, and, according to Wilson Smith, some actively sought to subvert Kessler. Kessler himself admits he made a critical public relations error when he attacked Heather Heyer on social media after the event.
Nonetheless, even if all UTR attendees and organizers acted with perfect unity and message discipline, would it have really mattered? When Jason Kessler attempted to hold a press conference the day after the event, he was physically attacked. The Charlottesville police, again, did little. If organizers had a consistent plan about how they were going in and out of the event, Wilson Smith’s book provides ample evidence that Charlottesville police would have simply ignored it [The Trap That Was Laid at Charlottesville, by Paul Gottfried, Chronicles, October 21, 2021].
Most damningly, it’s absolutely clear that Charlottesville police, local officials, and Governor Terry McAuliffe simply did not want the legally sanctioned rally to happen, and so enabled violence. In other words, this is classic Anarcho-Tyranny.
Maybe it’s a stretch to say that they wanted someone killed. But it’s not to say that their decisions allowed the tragedy to occur.
In the aftermath of Unite The Right, many groups and individuals who had nothing to do with the event found themselves deplatformed. (This includes VDARE.com, which was cut off by PayPal without explanation after more than 12 years.) Those who really were involved, notably Jason Kessler, were virtually wiped out digitally. The Daily Stormer, clearly the most provocative of any online publications, was also wiped from its domain name, an unprecedented development). It meant, in the words of one Red Ice commentator, “that one can essentially be banned from the Internet for having the wrong opinions—something previously unheard of.”
Reading about the aftermath creates a strange feeling of nostalgia for a time when deplatforming, censorship, and denial of basic financial services was considered outrageous. But in today’s post-America, it’s simply part and parcel of life under “Our Democracy.” Conservativism Inc. occasionally grumbles about “cancel culture,” but there has not been, and never will be, any movement by the Republican Party, or even the “Conservative Movement“ in general, to force Big Tech companies to respect free speech norms.
UTR was also a key moment in the history of American conservatism. It enabled Conservatism Inc. to reclaim hegemony. The populist opposition, which had enabled Donald Trump to win the nomination and the presidency, has been largely banned.
Charlottesville Untold is clearly written from a sympathetic point of view towards Jason Kessler and ordinary UTR demonstrators. Considering the mountains of vitriol and lies directed against them, this is a point in its favor. But the book also does not merely smear Leftists. It presents what Antifa and Leftist activists were doing and saying, letting their acts and words speak for themselves.
However, the most valuable contribution of the book is the way it dissects the actions of city and state officials. These actions were the greatest scandal of all. Government authorities allowed violence because they wanted to shut down a legal rally that they didn’t like. People can agree or disagree about whether Unite The Right was a good idea or not, but those who condemn it should remember that at that point everyone accepted as a premise that police would do their job.
In contrast, most patriots today simply take it for granted that in this country government standards on keeping the peace are arbitrary. The lackadaisical reaction to the BLM riots of 2020 in contrast to the brutal repression of the January 6 protestors is proof of that.
It’s worth noting that those who were at Charlottesville were entirely absent from the January 6 Mostly Peaceful Protest—apparently because they suspected another trap. And they were right.
Charlottesville Untold tells you the story you won’t get from Regime Media. It’s worth reading for that alone. It compiles primary sources that will be invaluable for any historian who might want to pen a truthful chronicle about the last days of America as a free country.
Where we are now is a direct result of what happened then.
Charlottesville Survivor [Email him] is a white man who voted for Trump. The Left hates all white men who voted for Trump, whether they were in Charlottesville or not.