Report: Unite the Right Organizers in Charlottesville Vindicated
Posted on: 12/06/2017 08:26 PM

City leaders and law enforcement appear to have deliberately forced a confrontation.

What happened in Charlottesville? Independent report makes an honest effort to find out.

by Gregory Hood

The law firm of Hunton & Williams has just issued an independent, 207-page report on the Unite the Right protest that took place in Charlottesville last August. The city of Charlottesville commissioned and paid for the report, but it is no cover up. It is a slashing indictment of the way the city prepared for and handled the demonstrations. It is a thorough vindication of the perspective of the Unite the Right demonstrators.

The report makes clear that the Charlottesville Police Department (CPD) and its black chief, Al Thomas, had no intention of allowing the demonstration to take place. Astonishingly, the report leaves no doubt that Chief Thomas wanted the police to let enough violence go unchecked to justify an order to declare the event an “unlawful assembly” and shut it down. The report is also unflinching in its condemnation of police and city-administration bungling that virtually guaranteed continued violence even after the event was canceled.

Report: Unite the Right Organizers in Charlottesville Vindicated

The report notes that from the very beginning, “in the face of strong community opposition to the Unite the Right rally, City leaders wanted to deny [rally organizer Jason] Kessler’s permit application.” “City Councilors responded to this pressure by injecting themselves into the operational details of the City’s response to the event—a function typically reserved for City staff.” (page 4) Just days before the event, the city tried to move the location for the rally, an attempt even the city’s own lawyers said was likely to be futile. A court overruled this transparent attempt to divert the rally and the only result was that uncertainty about the rally’s location had “a negative impact on preparations for this challenging event.”

Simple incompetence explains much of CPD’s failure. The report cites a “flawed Operational Plan,” poor coordination with the Virginia State Police (VSP), and no unified command structure. Chief Thomas technically had authority over both agencies for the protest, but failed to exercise it. Officers did not have riot equipment they needed, and VSP and CPD could not even talk to each other on the radio.

One of the most elementary rules of police control in situations like this is to keep hostile groups apart. There were several routes in and out of the park, so it was obvious where Unite the Right demonstrators and antifa counter-demonstrators were likely to meet if not separated.

The report notes that in a breathtaking display of poor planning, “officers were not stationed along routes of ingress and egress to and from Emancipation Park but rather remained behind barricades in relatively empty zones within the park and around the Command Center.” (page 5) Police were ordered not to stop street brawling unless it seemed that death or serious injury was imminent. Only once did officers leave their barricades to deescalate a potentially deadly confrontation (128). The role of the police was not to protect property and keep the peace. “Instead,” notes the report, “command staff prepared to declare an unlawful assembly and disperse the crowd.” (6)


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