Jason Kessler press conference

Jason Kessler speaks at a press conference outside City Hall on Sunday, August 13, 2017.

The city of Charlottesville has denied a special-event permit application for a Unite the Right anniversary rally and four others demonstrations next summer.

In an email sent shortly before 5 p.m. Monday, city spokeswoman Miriam Dickler said the city is denying the five different applications for events in and around Emancipation Park, where the white nationalist rally took place Aug. 12.

According to official notices signed by City Manager Maurice Jones, the city is denying the applications for Aug. 11 and 12, 2018, a weekend, due to public safety concerns.

“The proposed demonstration or special event presents a danger to public safety and it cannot be accommodate within a reasonable allocation of city funds and/or police resources,” the notices say.

On Nov. 27, rally organizer and “pro-white” activist Jason Kessler submitted his application for the event, which he described in his application as a “rally against civil rights abuse.” The application also says the anniversary rally is intended to memorialize “the sacrifices made by political dissidents” at his rally earlier this year.

Within days, several other people, including Charlottesville City Councilor Bob Fenwick and University of Virginia professor Walt Heinecke, filed their own applications for events in Emancipation Park. Heinecke and Brian Lambert, an ally of Kessler’s, submitted dueling applications to reserve Justice and McGuffey parks.

The city denied those permit applications for the same reasons Kessler’s was rejected.

On his Twitter account and in a statement to NBC29, Kessler said he plans to file a lawsuit against the city.

“The decision is bogus and should be reversed in court,” his statement to NBC29 says. “We’re going to be suing Charlottesville for this [and] many other civil rights violations early next year.”

The Unite the Right rally in August brought an uncontrollable mass of battle-ready white nationalists and counter-protesters who brawled downtown throughout the morning on Aug. 12. The event was shut down by noon when authorities declared an unlawful assembly.

A recent third-party review of the event, as well as a state report, found that city and state officials, despite recognizing the strong likelihood of violence, were ill-prepared for the rally. The third-party report, which the city hired former U.S. attorney Tim Heaphy to conduct, asserted that local and state officers were ordered to not intervene in the fighting that roiled Market Street.

The report claims Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas intentionally let some of the fighting take place so that an unlawful assembly could be declared. Thomas, who retained an attorney in the wake of the report, has denied those claims.

In the hours after the event was canceled, a car plowed into a crowd near the Downtown Mall, killing 32-year-old counter-protester Heather Heyer and injuring approximately 35 others. A 20-year-old Ohio man who was an attendee of the Unite the Right rally, James Alex Fields Jr., is facing a second-degree murder charge in the car attack. He is scheduled to appear in court Thursday.

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Chris Suarez is a reporter for The Daily Progress. Contact him at (434) 978-7274, csuarez@dailyprogress.com or @Suarez_CM  on Twitter.

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