Charlottesville, VA – The lawsuit against leading white supremacist organizers and groups began trial on October 25, 2021 at the federal courthouse in Charlottesville, Virginia. Attorneys with civil rights nonprofit Integrity First For America are representing victims of racist attacks at the ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville in August 2017.
NOTE: Rush transcripts are generated from Unicorn Riot’s live tweets posted in real-time while observing trial proceedings from inside the courthouse media room. Quotations and descriptions written here are not always precise verbatim quotes and sometimes use paraphrasing or shorthand to quickly capture and convey exchanges during court hearings. There may be some errors regarding details like jury numbers, exhibit numbers and dates as well as typos and missing punctuation. These rush transcripts do not capture every single moment, but are our attempt to provide the public with as much direct access to the trial as possible until full court transcripts are made publicly available at a later date.
Neo-nazi podcaster and lawsuit defendant Christopher Cantwell (representing himself) gave jurors a somewhat incoherent presentation of his time in Charlottesville on August 11 and 12, 2017. (Jump to Cantwell testimony – Part 1 | Part 2)
Richard Spencer (also representing himself) testified in his own defense to try to distance himself from the organization of the Unite The Right rally and related violence. (Jump to Spencer testimony.)
Plaintiffs played excerpts from a videotaped depositions of Ben Daley from the neo-nazi Rise Above Movement – Daley previously pled guilty to federal rioting charges relating to unprovoked assaults he committed at 2017 alt-right events, including Unite The Right. (Jump to Daley deposition.)
Plaintiffs also played an excerpt from a videotaped deposition of Brad Griffin (aka Hunter Wallace), PR spokesman for the neo-confederate League of the South (the League is a defendant in this lawsuit.) (Jump to Griffin deposition.)
Judge Moon gave a key remark about ‘conspiracy’ today when the jury was out:
“This jury can find that this was a plan to come to Charlottesville with a plan to provoke a fight and apply an overwhelming response to it based on racial animus.. and I think there’s ample…evidence.. it’s a jury issue as to whether you all conspired to do so…You don’t have to be at the meeting to plan the thing… if you know what other people are doing… you don’t have to do much.. just to be there, and go along with it…you’ve joined the conspiracy… I think you have a misunderstanding” of what conspiracy means
– Judge Norman Moon
Court is starting now in the 17th day of trial of the ‘Sines v. Kessler’ Charlottesville Unite The Right lawsuit this start’s today’s live thread – yesterday’s livetweets are below:
Chris Cantwell just finished getting cross-examined. James Fields’ lawyer David Campbell had Cantwell agree that he had never met or heard of James Fields before August 12 – Cantwell says he never met Fields before they were housed together in the Albemarle County Jail.
Plaintiffs’ attorney Roberta Kaplan is reading some exhibits re: plaintiffs’ medical records into the record.
Judge Moon will read the jury some instructions re exhibits and then the plaintiffs will play some video depositions.
Judge Moon tells Chris Cantwell that he has the right to cross-examine himself, Cantwell asks if that precludes his right to testify later, Judge Moon says no.
Christopher Cantwell Testimony – Part 1
Cantwell says he will take this opportunity to “ask myself some questions.”
Cantwell: is it necessary that I literally ask myself questions or…
Judge Moon: you can preface the subject that you’re going into
Cantwell is talking about the “Political Violence” episode of his Radical Agenda podcast quoted by plaintiffs’ attorney Michael Bloch on direct yesterday. Cantwell asks to admit the whole episode but says he will just play clips from it.
The podcast clip playing in court now, presumably to help Cantwell’s defense somehow, features Cantwell talking about wanting to violently abort interracial babies and how he got interested in “anarcho-capitalism” and the alt-right.
Cantwell scrubs forward to a clip where he discusses wanting to use deadly force against cops when they pull him over. Judge Moon tells Cantwell to hurry up and get to something relevant to this case, Cantwell says he’s getting to it.
Cantwell: there is a section where I discuss the themes of political violence.. the message here is that ‘politics is violence’… which is part of the alt-right lexicon…
Cantwell seems to just be scrubbing ahead through the episode playing seemingly random sound bytes of himself to the jury. Cantwell finally arrives at a bit from his show where he references a Jacobin article about the difference between the right wing & left wing when it comes to violence.
Cantwell quickly pivots in the clip to calling for violence against leftists. Judge Moon again interrupts Cantwell, Cantwell says “I’ll stop.. the point has been made…the point of the episode that they portrayed to you as an endorsement of political violence is actually the opposite of that…”
Cantwell says his discussion of “force” is “colored by” libertarian politics and compares himself using violence to police removing protesters from the street. Then he pivots to calling his show and “all social media properties” an “entertainment product.”
Cantwell moves on to discussing the evidence from his body camera – He’s about to play a clip from it, plaintiffs’ attorney Michael Bloch points out Cantwell is trying to play a version Cantwell edited and added text overlays to. Cantwell says he’ll use the original file instead.
Cantwell is having tech problems playing a video file- “I’m rebooting the computer”
Judge Moon: is it rebooting?
Cantwell: it says restarting on the screen
Judge Moon: how much longer do you think…?
Cantwell (slapping keyboard): I don’t know why it’s making me log in for a third time…
Cantwell agrees to try to get his video working while the plaintiffs play deposition videos – first is Brad Griffin from League of the South.
League of the South’s lawyer Bryan Jones complains he doesn’t know what portions will be played.
Ben Daley’s deposition video will play now instead.
Ben Daley Deposition
Ben Daley deposition video:
Q: at one point you had the phone number [redacted]…what period of time did you have that phone number?
Daley: from 2014 on to the time leading up to my arrest in 2018
Q: you attended the Unite The Right event…?
Q: you also attended a rally in Berkeley, CA in 2017…often referred to as the Battle of Berkeley?
Daley:.. yes Daley is shown his plea agreement – he pled guilty to a conspiracy involving violent acts at rallies in California as well as in Charlottesville
Q: in other words you did conspire with other people to commit violence at the Unite The Right rally…?
Q: in 2017 would it be fair to say you considered yourself a white nationalist?
Q: do you believe there should be a separate ethnostate for white ppl?
Q: in 2017 you were a member of the Rise Above Movement or RAM… you were one of the founding members…?
Q: when did you found RAM?
Daley: somewhere in 2016 or 2017
Q: Michael Miselis, Robert Rundo, were friends of yours and were in RAM in 2017?
Q: and at some point Cole White became a member of RAM?
Daley: Cole White attended some rallies with us and was also a codefendant
Attorney Michael Bloch shows Ben Daley a photo posted to RAM’s twitter account on March 8, 2017 – Daley is seen shirtless with a skull mask on in the lower left.
Q: that was the RAM mask?
Q: the RAM mission was to “Revive the warrior spirit of white people?”
Daley: that’s what the piece of paper says so yeah
Q: isn’t it true that RAM regularly held trainings to fight at political rallies?
Q: you went to rallies with RAM with the expectation that there would be physical violence against counter-protesters?
Daley: (pause) yeah it was well known that there was gonna be more than likely confrontations at these things, yes
Q: the violence you participated in at Unite The Right was not in self defense…?
Daley: I am required to say this by my plea agreement, and it is true
Q: how often would RAM train for combat?
Daley: I don’t know, maybe a couple times a month
Q: isn’t it true that what you would train for in your combat trainings was training to aggressively attack counter-protesters?
Daley: I’m gonna plead the fifth on that
Q: you agree that the trainings you conducted for Unite The Right included aggressively attacking counter-protesters not in self defense?
Daley: I’m gonna plead the fifth on that
Q: it was in 2018 that you met Patrick Casey?
Q: you met folks from Identity Evropa at the Battle of Berkeley?
Daley: yeah we ran into them there
Q: how many people from Identity Evropa?
Daley: probably around 10-12 people
Q: did that group of people include Nathan Damigo?
Q: you agree the violence you committed at Berkeley was not in self-defense?
Attorney Michael Bloch plays Ben Daley a video of street violence at the April 2017 ‘Battle of Berkeley.’ The video shows right-wing demonstrators beating someone fallen on the ground, Nathan Damigo is seen punching someone in the face.
Q: did you invite Cole White to Unite The Right?
Q: when you invited him… isn’t it true that you said “it’s going to be like Berkeley again, the event of the year”?
Q: you attended unite The Right with fellow members of RAM… Michael Miselis, Cole White, Thomas Gillen…?
Q:…expecting that you would engage in violence with counter-protesters?
Daley: I will plead the fifth
Q: you attended the torch march on August 11 and the rally on august 12?
Q: do you agree that you assaulted counter-protesters on August 11?
Daley: i’m gonna plead the fifth
Q: you also assaulted counter-protesters on August 12?
Daley: I’m gonna plead the fifth
By July 22, 2017, according to Discord messages, Ben Daley was on Discord messaging Patrick Casey of Identity Evropa that he planned to attend Unite The Right, evidence shows
Q: you at one point texted Michael Miselis saying ‘Rick Flair will be staying with us, excellent fighter, stoked to have him with us’, referring to Cole White, correct?
Q: you bought athletic tape for yourself and other RAM members… at Walmart in Charlottesville… to protect your hands while fighting… you brought a knife to Charlottesville..?
Q: you instructed other people to bring weapons to Unite The Right?
Daley: i’m gonna plead the fifth
Q: you were aware the Charlottesville 2.0 server was the primary chat for Unite The Right.. your handle was Ben Daley?
Q: did you post on the server, “need room for at least 3 Goys from CA… all were in Berkeley riots…”
Q: who did you go to the torch march with?
Daley: my codefendants
Q: you agree that you hit about five people at the torch march?
Daley: I’m gonna plead the fifth
Q: isn’t it true that you posted on Facebook that you were at the torch and you “hit like five people”?
Q: in the photo is you in the middle…
Q: behind you, over your shoulder…is Michael Miselis…next to… is Thomas Gillen… and the guy to Thomas Gillen’s left is Cole White…
Q: and in the foreground of the photo on the side is Eliott Kline, correct?
Daley: yeah i think that’s him
Q: your hands are taped because you’re expecting to fight?
Q: Thomas Gillen…also has his hands taped?
Q: what you did do was try to ram through the counter-protesters?
Daley: I’m gonna plead the fifth
Bloch reads from Daley’s plea agreement where he agrees to having “punched, kicked, choked, headbutted, and otherwise assaulted” counter-protesters
Q: you personally committed multiple acts including punching a protester and kicking him once…?
Daley: I’m gonna plead the fifth
Q: you also grabbed a protester and threw her off the sidewalk… grabbed a protester by her throat and threw her to the ground?
Daley: I’m gonna plead the fifth
And none of those acts were in self-defense?
Daley: I’m gonna plead the fifth
Asked and shown a photo of himself choking a counter-protester at Unite The Right, Ben Daley pleads the fifth
Q: do you agree that that act that resulted in that woman lying on the ground bloody like that was not taken in self defense?
Daley: I’m gonna plead the fifth
Daley is shown a photo of himself making a ‘slit throat’ gesture at Unite The Right, Daley laughs/smiles says he’s “doing a nice sideways thumbs up”
Looks like the Ben Daley deposition video is done playing now.
Brad Griffin Deposition
Plaintiffs are now playing the video of the deposition of Brad Griffin from the League of the South.
Asked if he has nicknames, Griffin says his nickname is Hunter Wallace, he writes under that name online at his blog Occidental Dissent. Griffin says he joined the League of the South in 2012, and became known as a member and spokesman for the League.
Q: do members of the League of the South generally believe that Jewish people should be excluded from society?
Q: did you ever talk to Jason Kessler or Eliott Kline about promoting the rally?
Griffin: … I think so
Q: you arrived in Charlottesville on Friday afternoon… you participated in the torch light rally?
Q: did you see Kessler at the torch march?
Griffin: ran into him afterwards
Q: did you see Christopher Cantwell?
Q: did you see Robert ‘Azzmador’ Ray?
Q: what did you wear to the torch march?
Griffin: a black League of the South polo
Q: where there any clear leaders on the ground at Lee Park?
Griffin: inside Lee Park the atmosphere was cordial, everybody was preparing for the rally, I saw David Duke was there… Mike Enoch [Peinovich] was there…
The Brad Griffin deposition video is done playing now, Robert Kaplan says that’s it for videos being played by the plaintiffs.
Christopher Cantwell Testimony – Part 2
Chris Cantwell got his laptop working while the depositions were playing, he will now resume cross-examining himself by playing portions of his body camera video from the weekend of Unite The Right.
Cantwell starts by playing a 19 second clip of a News2Share video showing fights/beatings Cantwell was a part of at the Jefferson statue during the torch march. Seems he’ll be playing it several times including in slow motion. Cantwell claims the video shows him saying “take that shit from her” about supposedly trying to disarm a counter-protester with a baton. Another torch rally attendee can be seen in the video telling Cantwell to back off and calm down.
Cantwell is playing another slow motion clip of a Getty Images video of the torch march violence at the statue – Identity Evropa member Taylor Wilson can be seen decking someone. Cantwell circles himself winding up a punch, circles a blur he says is “a woman with a baton.” Cantwell pauses the video as another alt-right rally attendee lunges at counter protesters to wrap his arms around one of their necks in a takedown attempt.
Cantwell: “this is the man that I peppersprayed in the earlier video… that’s him deploying pepper spray at me…” Cantwell claims another blurry portion of the video shows his body camera being stolen off his chest. Cantwell is done playing those videos – says he has “no further questions for myself.”
Michael Bloch from the plaintiffs has one re-direct question for Cantwell as a witness so Cantwell is taking the witness stand again. Bloch apparently wants to show some of the same videos Cantwell just used, so Judge Moon calls for a 20 minute recess first.
Judge Moon is calling the jury back in – Michael Bloch from the @IntegrityforUSA legal team will be starting re-direct on Chris Cantwell shortly.
Bloch pulls up a screenshot from the Getty video Cantwell just played before the break – Bloch refers to Ben Daley’s deposition played this morning, and points out Ben Daley (who pled guilty in relation to the event) next to Cantwell in the video, Cantwell says he hadn’t noticed.
Bloch: no further questions.
Roberta Kaplan from the plaintiffs’ team is reading some exhibits into evidence from the Ben Daley and Brad Griffin deposition videos played earlier this morning.
Judge Moon is reading the jury instructions as to defendants Eliott Kline, Robert Ray, Vanguard America, National Socialist Movement & Matt Heimbach, saying he has found sanctions against these defendants.
As to Eliott Kline, Judge Moon says the following facts are found as true:
- defendant Kline was one of the leaders of Identity Evropa from April 2017 through at least August 2017
- Kline entered into an agreement with… co-conspirators to engage in racially motivated violence in August 11-12, 2017. Whether such co-conspirators are or are not defendants is a Q for the jury.
- Kline was motivated by racial animus when conspiring to commit violence in Charlottesville
- It was reasonably foreseeable to Kline and intended by him that his co-conspirators would commit racially motivated violence in Charlottesville August 11-12 2017…
- after the UTR event… Kline ratified the racially motivated violence at the event
On account of Robert ‘Azzmador’ Ray’s failure to comply, Judge Moon as a sanction finds these facts true:
- Ray was a writer for the Daily Stormer July 2016-March 2020. Ray entered into an agreement… to commit racially motivated violence in Cville on August 11-12 2017…
- Ray was motivated by animus against racial minorities, Jewish people and their supporters when engaging in acts of intimidation & violence on August 11012 Judge Moon sanction findings:
- It was reasonably foreseeable to Ray that his coconspirators would commit acts of racially motivated violence on August 11-12 2017
- After the UTR rally in Cville …. Ray ratified the racially motivated violence that occurred at Unite The Right…
Plaintiffs in Sines v. Kessler have rested their case.
With the jury out of the room, Pro Se defendant Christopher Cantwell is arguing for a Rule 20 motion to have the case against him dismissed, claiming no conspiracy involving him has been shown at all during trial. Cantwell says “animus against antifa” doesn’t the prove the allegations against him, cites his having pointed out alleged antifa weapons during the case.
League of the South and Richard Spencer are both asking Judge Moon for a Rule 50 motion, Spencer says that while video shows “people with bad motives”, “there was not any attempt made to show that I had any contact with these people”, says he wasn’t in the Discord server.
Judge Moon to Spencer: at this point the court looks at the evidence only in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs…
Judge Moon: Mr. Cantwell, in the days up to Unite The Right you exchanged text messages with Defendant Spencer saying “I’m willing to risk violence and incarceration.. but I think its worth it for our cause” and Spencer relied “it’s worth it, at least for me”…that statement could be taken to mean Mr. Cantwell and Mr. Spencer wanted to “risk violence and incarceration” and coordinate in order to do so.
Judge Moon cites texts between Kessler and Cantwell, Kessler and Spencer, says Cantwell “advocates violence on his podcast”
Judge Moon: on that show Mr. Cantwell again said explicitly “let’s have a race war”, he thought there was a “good reason to genocide a group of people”, referring to Jews and made a string of violent remarks.
Moon refers to Cantwell bringing weapons to Charlottesville… Judge Moon refers to Cantwell saying before Unite The Right: “I’ve got to organize a bunch of armed extremists”, refers to Cantwell marching in the torch march & beating & pepper spraying people.
“You’ve got an explanation for all these things but it’s no self defense after you’re not in danger… because somebody hit you that doesn’t give you the right to beat them to death…” – Judge Moon to Cantwell
“This jury can find that this was a plan to come to Charlottesville with a plan to provoke a fight and apply an overwhelming response to it based on racial animus.. and I think there’s ample…evidence.. it’s a jury issue as to whether you all conspired to do so…You don’t have to be at the meeting to plan the thing… if you know what other people are doing… you don’t have to do much.. just to be there, and go along with it…you’ve joined the conspiracy… I think you have a misunderstanding” of what conspiracy means – Judge Moon
Judge Moon denies the rule 20 and rule 50 motions from Cantwell, Spencer, and League of the South. Some scheduling talk from Bryan Jones (League of the South’s lawyer), sounds like a lot of defense cases will be fast.
The jury is coming back in in a minute – Richard Spencer, representing himself, is up first to make his defense case.
Richard Spencer Testimony
Richard Spencer is showing his text message history with Jason Kessler – he scrolls up to June 5, 2017 when Kessler reached out to him saying, “We’re going to start the promotional material for Charlottesville 2; Unite the Right; Battle of Charlottesville.”
Spencer says “this is Kessler just saying stuff” before admitting that one text shows Kessler talking about “cracking skulls” – Spencer says he did not respond to that text which he calls “flowery language.” Spencer pulls up the first promotional poster for Unite the Right and points out that his name is not on it.
Spencer texted Kessler “lots of people have told me my name on the poster would make the event dangerous” – claims to the jury he expressed concern early on. Spencer is going over more June 2017 texts where Kessler is eager to get Spencer to commit to speak at Unite The Right, Spencer eventually agrees to be on the bill for the event, the next version of the Unite The Right poster includes Spencer’s name.
Spencer talks about his discussions with Eliott Kline aka Eli Mosley, says Kline was “involving himself in everything” before admitting he said in texts that both Eliott Kline and Greg Conte could report back to him and “make decisions for me.”
Spencer skips ahead to texts with Kessler about the permit challenge around Unite The Right, Spencer offered to contact Sam Dickson, a lawyer based in Georgia who is known for having worked with the KKK in the past.
Spencer shows his texts with Kessler discussing ACLU support in the case over the permit for Unite The Right, texts sent about the August 11 leadership meeting Spencer didn’t attend, and the torch march. On August 12 Kessler texts Spencer about doing a press conference.
Spencer unplugs his computer that was showing the texts, takes a long drink of water before he starts talking about the torch rally on August 11. Spencer shows a tweet he sent of a selfie he took of himself half-smiling creepily in front of torches – the tweet text says “Amazing torch light march tonight!”
Spencer says that he is not in any videos showing violence at the torch march.
Spencer enters into evidence a text exchange he had with a Washington Post reporter asking him about the Charlottesville rally. On August 11 at 8 PM, Spencer tipped the journalist off saying “I’d be near campus tonight, if I were you…After 9 PM” Spencer shows other texts where the WaPo reporter tells Spencer he was called “a k*ke and a f*gg*t” at the torch march. Spencer replied to the reporter, “Fun and games.” Spencer’s text records with the WaPo reporter go into August 12, Spencer was asked if he knew James Fields, said he didn’t, etc.
Richard Spencer’s defense presentation moves on to his “experience” during August 12, 2017 – he shows a tweet he sent early that morning of himself smiling in a car with the text “Let’s do this!” – tells the jury “I was happy, confident, ready to go.. things would change.”
Spencer wants to play “interesting” audio he says he took from a Periscope video he broadcast (says due to Twitter discontinuing Periscope he couldn’t get the video). While the sound is playing Spencer shows a photo of himself being pushed by state police clearing the park. The sound clip features the sound of the Richard Spencer saying “don’t do it” to the Virginia State Police in riot gear who were enforcing the state of emergency.
Spencer on the audio recording is telling the cops pushing him and other alt-right rally-goers out of Emancipation Park they “are engaged in illegal activity… we are peacefully demonstrating.. we are the only ones who will defend you guys..” Spencer pauses the clip to point out someone near him told the cops “you’re pushing us into antifa.” The audio resumes, Spencer tells the cops “why don’t you go break up the communists… I’ve never been accused of a violent crime…they want to destroy everything you care about.”
Spencer tells the jury he was considering taking place in civil disobedience to get arrested while police cleared the park, goes back to playing the sound file of himself pleading with/yelling at the state police. The audio is still playing, Spencer keeps pausing it to draw jurors’ attention to the fact that he was being nice to the police, telling them things like “I’m not going to hurt you.” Says police maced him “with bear spray in the face”.
Seems Spencer is finally done playing the audio file of himself & Greg Conte & co. getting pushed out of the park by Virginia state troopers… now he will be showing some photos to the jury. One photo shown by Spencer shows himself walking outside the park grimacing with a red face and a soaked head “covered in a combination of sweat and mace.. i had clearly been maced, by the police.”
Spencer shows another photo of someone washing mace out of his eyes. Spencer shows another photo of himself being held up by Greg Conte as he is walking – Spencer looks quite grotesque here as he is clearly grimacing in pain but also trying hard to smile and has sunglasses on. Identity Evropa member William Clark is also in the photo.
Spencer plays a video he took of himself, sweaty in a vehicle, panting heavily and telling his online followers “I’m okay” while describing being pushed out of the park after the unlawful assembly was declared by police, he complains about being maced by antifa and the cops.
Audio and video are out of sync in the clip Spencer is playing. In it he implies that the shutdown of the rally was a setup – the clip ends but Spencer says he thinks there is more to the video and he wants to play it. This item seems to simply show Spencer talking, nothing else. Spencer plays the video in another format but is frustrated to find it still ends at the same time as the last video file which he claimed was incomplete.
He speaks to the jury, summarizing his same sentiments in the video of outrage at the Unite The Right rally being shut down.
Spencer now asks “to enter in my own defense” the violent, racist and antisemitic “rant” of his that was secretly recorded on the evening of August 12 and leaked years later, and has been played a few times in this trial.
Spencer is playing the rant, the audio shows him yelling rabidly about “we’ll come back here every weekend if we have to … we win, they lose, that’s how it works…fucking little k*kes… fucking enslave those pieces of shit… we are gonna destroy this fucking town…”
After the clip finishes playing, Spencer tries to explain it to the jury, saying he was angry at the city of Charlottesville for keeping him from “being able to say things that I sincerely believe in that were provocative… and would promote my career”, says he was “outraged.” Spencer calls his rant “despicable and shameless”, says it was given to “half a dozen to ten people in a private room..after..it was dawning on me that this thing was a disaster & it was going to be viewed not as the latest stop on the Spencer tour but as something deeply shameful… I descended into a childlike rage… it is certainly the worst part of me… there it is.. I enter than in my defense as representative of my shame, outage, fear… about how the event turned out.”
Spencer returns to showing his text message history with the Washington Post reporter from the afternoon of August 12, 2017 – the journalist asked him if he knew James Alex Fields, Spencer said no. The WaPo reporter asked Spencer about the car attack and if he felt responsible, Spencer replied in the text that he felt no responsibility personally but was “deeply saddened.”
Spencer shows a tweet he posted at 12:38 PM on August 12, 2017 that said encouraged people at Unite The Right to “disperse” after the state of emergency was declared.
Spencer tells the jury “I certainly had some bad moments that day but I also had some good moments.” Spencer shows another tweet of his from August 18, 2017 where he wrote “I will no longer associate w/ Jason Kessler; no one should. Heyer’s death was deeply saddening. “Payback is a morally reprehensible idea.” – This was quote-tweeting Kessler’s tweet celebrating Heyer’s death.
Spencer: This was days after the event, I wanted to get as far away from Jason Kessler as possible. I don’t think there’s much more that needs to be said.
Spencer: I don’t want to turn this to a lecture or anything like that… but I’m going to turn to a… piece I made on August 11… I think it expresses the way I was thinking at the time and what I was hoping to gain from the event….
Spencer submits his August 11 “What It Means To Be Alt-Right” essay into evidence. This is the same thing as his 18-point ‘Charlottesville Statement’ manifesto, which was co-written with his codefendant Augustus Invictus and calls for “war.”
Spencer is just reading his manifesto to the jury now…
Judge Moon: you’re just gonna go through this whole thing?
Spencer: I am
Judge Moon: no…you can highlight but you can’t go through the whole thing….
Spencer continues talking about his “definition of race” in his manifesto… tells the jury about his definition of the “Aryan genetic cluster” and what he thinks “European” means…”Celtic, German and Slavic…”
Spencer gets into his theories about “Jews” as an “ethno-religious people”, plaintiffs object, Spencer says “I am not going to be perfect” and says “I don’t buy it” when referring to Jeff Schoep and Samantha Froelich’s claims to not be neo-nazis anymore.
Spencer is continuing to talk about the Jews to the jury, says he is impressed by “the fact that they have remained a people for millenia”
Judge Moon raises his voice – says the case is about “did you conspire with anyone to come here with anyone to commit racial animus based violence and that’s what the defense should be – you may not come here and justify your beliefs, no one is entitled to do that.”
Spencer: I am entitled to humanize myself and I am going to do that in a reasonable amount of time
Judge Moon: well right now what we’re going to do is we’re going to lunch
Court is back in an hour at 1:30 PM.
Judge Moon is lecturing Richard Spencer – telling him that he has less time than the plaintiffs because the plaintiffs have the burden of proof and have to prove a case against dozens of defendants while he is just one person.
“The fact that you’re not a nice person is not a defense” – Judge Moon to Richard Spencer
The jury is being called back in now.
Richard Spencer (representing himself) is continuing his defense case now – he is essentially allowed to testify as a fill-in for calling himself as a witness.
Spencer returns to discussing his “Charlottesville Statement” manifesto that was released the night of the torch rally. Spencer tells the jury he wants to talk about “the concept of the ethnostate” as well as “metapolitics.” Spencer disputes claims that the purpose of Unite The Right was to create an ethnostate, he says an ethnostate could only exist when instituted by the government.
Spencer tells jurors he agrees with Christopher Cantwell that “politics is violence… politics isn’t consensual.”
(Like Christopher Cantwell’s statements in this case, Richard Spencer’s current testimony would be basically impossible to tell apart from one of his pseudo-intellectual alt right podcast episodes if divorced from its visual context of taking place in a federal courthouse.)
Richard Spencer is now just reading full quotes from his Charlottesville manifesto to the jury and pausing repeatedly to explain sections of it to the jury. He claims his rhetoric of a “situational war” was separate from calls for violence.
After quoting his manifesto a bunch, Spencer says “I hope that was brief and I’ll leave it there.”
Spencer is taking the witness stand to be cross-examined now, smiling and nervously fidgeting, looking down, wiping his nose.
Plaintiffs’ attorney Michael Bloch will cross-examine.
Bloch: good afternoon, Mr. Spencer
Spencer: we meet again (chuckles, smiles)
Bloch is pulling up the Twitter post where Spencer denounced Jason Kessler while quote-tweeting Kessler’s August 18, 2017 tweet disparaging Heather Heyer and applauding Heyer’s murder.
Bloch: Isn’t it true… that the reason you tweeted that…was a tactical move to improve your legal situation?
Spencer: no… I had no idea about this legal situation..
Bloch: there was a lawsuit against you at that time that had already initiated…?
Spencer: I think so…
Bloch pulls up texts between Richard Spencer & Eliott Kline (Eli Mosley) and shows them to the jury:
On August 18, 2017 at 8:39 PM, Spencer texted Kline “it’s time to dump on Kessler. He just praised the death of Heyer.” Kline replied: “what a fucking idiot.”
Spencer: Lets unload. everything.
Kline: yeah. gotchya. He’s already getting slammed a great deal from all other sides. Should be easy.
Spencer: he wants to go to jail apparently
Kine: should I text him now and tell him to delete it and say he was hacked?
Spencer: I’ll tweet too
Kline: weev did not hack it but claimed he did because he knew we were in a lawsuit and he knew he could take the…grenade for us for plausible deniability…
Bloch: nothing further.
Next to cross-examine Richard Spencer is James Kolenich, lawyer for Jason Kessler, Nathan Damigo and Identity Evropa. Kolenich has previously tried to accuse Spencer of trying to take over Identity Evropa.
Kolenich is showing texts between Spencer & Eliott Kline/Eli Mosley – Kline sent Spencer family information about Kessler having a Jewish grandmother – Spencer texted Mosley “I was right to see his lack of Sieg Heiling as a sign.”
Kolenich asks Spencer to explain, Spencer refers to the Charlottesville 1.0 afterparty with nazi salutes that he calls “frat behavior”. Spencer says he recalls Kessler “scurrying around” and “not participating” in the salutes.
Kolenich: these texts are from July 27, 2017… would you agree you were not working with Mr. Kessler at least at that point?
Spencer: the jury can judge whether we were working together…he invited me to the rally…
Kolenich pulls up a text from Kline to Spencer saying he had “removed Kessler” from all “operational” matters and had placed himself “in charge.” Kolenich asks Spencer about this, Spencer says Kline was “very energetic” and was “kissing my butt.”
Kolenich asks Spencer if Kline was reporting to him, Spencer says “I assume he was reporting to Nathan Damigo as the head of Identity Evropa”
Jason Kessler texts with Richard Spencer (August 13 or 14, 2017):
Spencer: I’m sorry but I won’t attend the press conference today, you’re not listening to leadership
Kolenich: please tell the jury what ‘leadership’ you’re referring to there?
Spencer: I’m referring to me, because I’m the alt-right…
Kolenich is done cross-examining after having Richard Spencer repeat that he considered himself to be “leadership” over Jason Kessler.
James Alex Fields’ lawyer David Campbell is now making part of Fields’ case through Spencer’s testimony.
Campbell: did you have a Twitter in 2017, when did you first get a twitter?
Spencer: I think 2011
Campbell: you testified earlier that 2017 was the height of your fame… do you recall how many followers you had on twitter in 2017?
Spencer: over 70,000 followers…
Campbell: did you know each and every one of those followers…know their names?
Campbell: what percentage of your followers did you know vs not?
Spencer: 1 percent at the very most, maybe 25 total who I really knew who they were… vast majority I have no idea who they are…
Campbell refers to Tweets from James Fields’ @NewGiantDad twitter account shown in evidence that tagged Richard Spencer – asked Spencer what notification he would have gotten of that. Spencer says he maybe would have seen it in his notifications but probably not since he was verified on Twitter at the time.
Asked by Campbell how many notifications he got daily during 2017, Spencer says it was usually too much to keep track of. Spencer agrees with Campbell that before this case, he didn’t know that the NewGiantDad Twitter account was James Fields and says he doesn’t remember that account at all.
Campbell is done w cross-exam on Spencer.
Edward Rebrook, counsel for Jeff Schoep and National Socialist Movement, is cross-examining Spencer over Zoom.
Rebrook asks Spencer about what relationship he had with Jeff Schoep, Spencer says “nothing.” Rebrook is done.
Richard Spencer is dismissed as a witness.
David Campbell (James Fields’ lawyer) is submitting a certified copy of the amended judgment from Fields’ criminal case as evidence. Fields’ defense has rested its case.
Chris Cantwell says he has more of a case he wants to put on, asks for a chance to confer with plaintiffs’ counsel.
While that happens, a portion of the Samantha Froelich deposition requested by James Kolenich (Identity Evropa lawyer) will be played now.
Froelich deposition clip is playing now.
Froelich asked about planning Charlottesville 1.0, says she just got an AirBnB and helped with the afterparty.
Asked if she helped plan Unite the Right, Freolich says all she did was plan an afterparty and help David Duke get a hotel.
Q: Did Eli Mosley communicate to you his ideas and objectives for Unite The Right at any time?
Q: other than the afterparty did you speak with Mr. Kessler regarding his plans for Unite The Right?
Froelich: other than finding David Duke accommodations, no.
Q: Did you speak with Mr. Damigo at all regarding Unite The Right?
Froelich: only once… he just said that if you’re going and representing IE you shouldn’t wear a bonnet or wear traditional clothing, to dress like a modern woman.
Q: are you associated with any organizations that do deradicalization work?
Froelich: I am, I am involved with Life After Hate
Q: what work do you do with them?
Froelich: I’m involved with their online forums, I’m hoping to help…deradicalizing other people.
Seems like the Samantha Froelich deposition clip is done playing now (this selection was requested by James Kolenich, lawyer for Kason Kessler, Nathan Damigo and Identity Evorpa.) Froelich was the women’s coordinator and membership coordinator for Identity Evropa (IE) in 2017. Her deposition shown early in this trial provided some pretty damning implications of IE and Richard Spencer.
Kolenich says “defendants Kessler, Damigo and Identity Evropa rest” their case .
Christopher Cantwell (representing himself) is now going to be allowed to testify on his own behalf, or as Judge Moon says, “theoretically ask himself and answer his own questions.”
Cantwell: Hello Mr. Cantwell, good to see you again
Cantwell plays a 6 minute portion of one of his Radical Agenda podcast episodes consisting of an interview with Jason Kessler that Cantwell says took place as he was driving to Charlottesville for Unite The Right.
Kessler starts by talking about permit issues for the event. Kessler on the audio says the police told him “there was no credible threat of violence from our side” but were threats from counter-protesters.
Plaintiffs object, Judge Moon overrules the objection, the audio keeps playing.
The 6 minute podcast clip (in which Cantwell discusses shooter counter-protesters and complained about the prospect of being tried before Black jurors) is done playing in court.
Cantwell is now telling the jury that his texts to Richard Spencer about being willing to “risk violence and incarceration” were actually about civil disobedience in the event the permit for Unite The Right was revoked by city officials.
Cantwell reads jurors his blog post from his website where he said he was on his way to Unite The Right, told his supporters to follow Jason Kessler, and accused the Southern Poverty Law Center of being part of a Jewish conspiracy.
Cantwell’s long blog post, which he is still reading to the jury here in federal court, told his readers to come to the Charlottesville rally and encouraged them to bring firearms.
Cantwell scrolls back up to the top of this same post to read his ‘update’ section added on August 9th – he cites a Daily Stormer post endorsing Unite The Right and again encourages his readers to bring guns to Charlottesville.
Cantwell is now telling the jury about the ‘Radical Agenda listener’s meetup’ he organized for paywall subscribers of his show a few days before Unite The Right. Cantwell tells jurors he disabled new signups before announcing the meetup to “deter confrontations.” Cantwell said he also let Jason Kessler invite people to his private Radical Agenda listeners meetup.
Cantwell is showing the jury more snapshots of pages from his website – apparently a subscription and non-subscription view of his blog post about the Radical Agenda listener’s meetup. One of the snapshots is a Wayback Machine archive page.
Cantwell switches gears to showing his body camera video from his meetup in the Walmart parking lot, says he wants to introduce all 47 minutes of the video but only wants to play parts of it now. Cantwell is playing the August 11 Walmart parking lot body camera footage now – he shows the video of himself arriving at the Walmart and immediately pauses it to do more explaining about the timestamp. A few fans of Cantwell as hanging out in the parking lot earlier on in the video – one of them is wearing shirt from nazi metal musician Burzum. The video is taken from Cantwell’s chest level and you often see him raise his vape towards his mouth. Cantwell fast forwards to a part where he says “we got company” as he and his fans describe a vehicle they think contains someone watching them.
(This August 11 Walmart parking lot meetup Cantwell is playing video from now was not really referenced in the case against him.)
The video goes on to show a few more people not with Cantwell’s group hanging out near them in the Walmart parking lot, Cantwell’s group appears unnerved by this and becomes quiet. Someone approaching Cantwell in his body camera video tells him he looks like a turtle.
Cantwell pauses the video, circles two of the people who are making fun of him in his Walmart parking lot body camera video, asks the jury to remember their faces, resumes playing the Walmart video. Cantwell’s fan group is just standing there silently at this point in the clip. Cantwell fast forwards to the part where he says the police arrive, at this point seems like more of his fans have arrived. Two police officers arrive and say they “got a call about a disorder and somebody pulling a gun on somebody.” Cantwell tells the cops he has a gun but hasn’t taken it out. The cops search him, Cantwell gets agitated while telling the cops there are people in the parking lot who don’t like him, he offers to give the cops the SD card from his body camera, they don’t seem interested in it.
Cantwell pauses the video and says “in the interest of time I’ll just testify that this doesn’t get more interesting.” Says the cops couldn’t find the complainant who called them, Walmart manager eventually had the cops kick them out of the parking lot.
Judge Moon calls for a 20 minute recess, seems like after the break Cantwell is going to play more videos from his personal travel blog from August 11, 2017.
Cantwell is trying to call plaintiffs Devin Willis and Natalie Romero to authenticate a photo that he says shows an antifascist with a gun at the torch march. Plaintiff’s attorney Roberta Kaplan says her clients can just stipulate to the photo’s authenticity instead.
Judge Moon: it seems to me there’s nothing in their testimony that they need to be there.
Cantwell hands the plaintiffs a thumb drive with the exhibits in question on it.
Judge Moon says to call the jury back in.
The just is back in now so Chris Cantwell’s Pro Se testimony, which so far has focused heavily on materials arguably irrelevant to the case, will continue.
Cantwell is playing “a clip from the VICE News interview that was not on the TV” – Cantwell says he took his own recordings of his discussions with the VICE reporter and published them on his website.
The audio is playing now, Chris Cantwell is claiming to have “non violent” intentions. On the clip Cantwell also says that if he got charged after Unite The Right the jury would be “packed with blacks and communists” who would find him guilty.
Cantwell says that after this VICE interview he was invited to the ‘leadership meeting’ at Mcintire Park before the torch rally. Cantwell is about to play a portion of his body camera video taken at that meeting.
Cantwell plays a two minute clip of his recording of the meeting where Kessler says the torch march plans were leaked on ItsGoingDown.org (which Cantwell calls a “clearinghouse for violent communist propaganda”) so they may need to change plans.
Cantwell still seems genuinely outraged today when he tells the jury that the plans for the torch rally were supposed to be a secret.
Cantwell’s body camera audio recording goes on to say “If I’m going to be involved I want the cops involved”, referring to the torch rally. Cantwell says Eliott Kline/Eli Mosley told him that UVA police were notified about the torch rally – he plays another portion of his body camera video from the 8/11 ‘leadership meeting’ where Kline says “I just got off the phone with the police, they are gonna be protecting us…”
In the video Eliott Kline claims that the Charlottesville police told him they would be escorting and protecting the torch march and would intercept any ‘black bloc’ that might appear to confront the torch march. Cantwell’s body camera video goes on to show Eliott Kline/Eli Mosley describe plans for line formations to respond to anti-fascists who may try to confront their torch march. On Cantwell’s recording, Kline/Mosley says that the police gave permission for torch marchers to park at UVA.
Cantwell stops playing the video, which he says “does not get more interesting,” fumbles through his papers.
Cantwell plays another clip from his body camera around the same time which he says shows him getting introduced to Thomas Rousseau from Vanguard America for the first time. The video also catches him meeting a ‘Nick’ from Vanguard.
Cantwell tells the jury that after the ‘leadership meeting’ he went to his hotel and downloaded this footage from his body camera, which is why he still has the footage even though his body camera was allegedly stolen from him later that night during the torch rally.
Cantwell plays a clip from an Emily Gorcenski Periscope video that says shows him arriving at UVA’s Nameless Field for the torch march the night of August 11. Cantwell points out Eliott Kline aka Eli Mosley organizing the crowd into rows, giving orders to people “doing security”
Gorcenski’s Periscope video zooms in on one torch march ‘security’ guy’s tiny swastika pin on his polo (he was later identified as Zachary Hudson Fisher aka Wisconsin-area rave dj HDSN ACD.) Cantwell lets Gorcenski’s Periscope video play for quite a few minutes, plaintiffs’ attorney Roberta Kaplan objects saying there’s no way Cantwell was there for the whole time, Cantwell agrees to skip ahead. Cantwell turns the sound off at plaintiffs’ counsel’s request – Cantwell says “there is an interaction between myself and the person recording that I’d like to show the jury.”
Cantwell is just sort of jumping ahead through pieces of the silently playing torch rally stream now. Eventually resumes play on a part where Emily Gorcenski asks him “how was your Walmart meetup, Chris?” Kaplan says volume shouldn’t be on, Cantwell says “I’m interacting with the recorder right now.” Cantwell tells the jury he wanted to show them that last part of the Periscope stream because “my secret Walmart meetup had been infiltrated…I felt threatened by this interaction.” Cantwell stops playing the Periscope stream, apparently the Walmart bit was the whole point of playing that.
Cantwell is now showing another video from the torch rally at the point where torch marchers were starting to surround the statue. Cantwell claims he can see someone in the crowd “wearing all black and sunglasses” who was “at the WalMart meetup.” Cantwell circles himself by the Jefferson statue at UVA and circles someone else who he claims took his body camera that night. Cantwell circles a tiny spot on the video that he says is himself, says he was pointing his flashlight at someone who “yelled something at me about WalMart… that made me both angry and afraid…” Cantwell circles himself in the video again as the torch-bearing crowd starts circling the small group of counter-protesters at the statue – “here I am… I’m looking over here…because I sense trouble…”
Cantwell: The instructions Mr. Kline gave us.. were to keep the counter-protesters away from the torches… Cantwell leans on the podium with his hands linked at the fingers to say “I wanted the cops involved…because if these people attack us…we’re going to fucking hurt them…”
Cantwell says “when I see a problem, I want to get between the problem and the torches” because he didn’t want counter-protesters to get “set on fire” – an apparent attempt to reframe his violence that night (which he’s been criminally convicted of) as a safety intervention. Cantwell is now playing Unicorn Riot’s video from the torch march, pausing it and circling himself, says the video was “edited by people who don’t have my best interests at heart.” Cantwell claims he could tell who threw the first punch but it’s “obscured” in the video.
Cantwell shows a text he sent to Eliott Kline/Eli Mosley at 1:10 AM on August 12 asking “what number should I call to speak with police about tonight?” – Kline replied saying “I’m trying to figure out what PD is handling it still. I’ll let you know.” Cantwell tells the jury “August 12 was pretty short for me” because “I got pepper sprayed pretty early.”
Cantwell shows the jury two videos that he says show him getting pepper sprayed on his way into the park for the rally that morning. The jury has heard slow motion audio/video of Chris “the crying nazi” Cantwell yelling “arrrghhhh they maced me” maybe 10 times in the last few minutes.
Cantwell plays another video, showing himself being treated for pepper spray on August 12 as he lays on the ground. Zachary Hudson Fisher is seen in the video pouring water on Cantwell’s head while he tells Cantwell “we’re gonna fucking kill these people”, Cantwell claims the video shows him replying “don’t kill anyone.”
Cantwell shows the jury a clip of himself in the VICE episode pouring milk all over his head while yelling “fuck!”
“That’s all I have, thank you.” Chris ‘the crying nazi’ Cantwell is done with his testimony in Sines v. Kessler, apparently (he’s been representing himself.) He will now take the stand to be cross-examined as a witness.
Plaintiffs’ attorney Michael Bloch is asking Cantwell about his video of the August 11 ‘leadership meeting’ where Eliott Kline claims to have been in touch with the police.
Bloch: you went to Nameless Field for the beginning of the torch march…there were not any police there…
Cantwell: If Mr. Kline lied to me, I wouldn’t be the first guy he lied to.
Bloch: when you saw no police at UVA… you didn’t call the police, you just kept marching right?
Bloch: during the torch rally you testified you were defending yourself and others… you in fact pled guilty to two counts of assault and battery stemming from that night?
Bloch shows a photo Cantwell posted on Minds.com on August 22, 2017 of himself macing counter-protesters saying “hope to see you all soon.”
Bloch refers to the Radical Agenda episode Cantwell played a clip from during his testimony. Bloch plays another clip from that episode saying “there will be plenty of people on our side… who will rush to the conflict.”
Bloch refers to Cantwell’s blog post about Unite The Right that he read during his testimony. Bloch asks about a part of the post which says “Whatever violent ideas we entertain on the Radical Agenda are not to be carried out here” – Bloch points out this is a hyperlink to the episode called “Political Violence” where Cantwell says he wants people to be “prepared to go out and hurt people.”
Bloch asks Cantwell about the other camera he said he had with him on August 12, Cantwell showed some footage from that showing himself being maced.
Bloch: according to you that camera also disappeared?
Cantwell: the video was sent to my attorney while I was incarcerated
Bloch: the camera itself somehow disappeared that day?
Cantwell: while I was being treated for the pepper spray on the ground screaming in pain
Bloch: the camera itself somehow disappeared that day?
Cantwell: while I was being treated for the pepper spray on the ground screaming in pain
Bloch: you just got it back at some point but you don’t know how and you don’t know when… the only footage that was on it was that shot of you getting maced?
Cantwell: no, there was other footage…
Bloch plays a 30-second clip from Cantwell’s bodycam video of the August 11 leadership meeting – Eliott Kline and Robert ‘Azzmador’ Ray are in the video. In the video Kline says “anybody who is a fighter needs to be here at 5 o’ clock and we’ll start bussing people over to the parking garage area…at 5:45 we’re gonna step off to the park…”
Cantwell: that plan changed substantially after that conversation took place.. we thought we were gonna be able to get our vehicles up to the park….
Josh Smith (lawyer for Matt Heimbach, Matt Parrott & Traditionalist Worker Party) is cross-examining Cantwell via Zoom – asks if Heimbach, Parrott or any TWP member was there, Cantwell says he didn’t see Heimbach or Parrott there and doesn’t know if anyone from TWP was there.
Bryan Smith (lawyer for Michael Hill, Michael Tubbs & League of the South) shows Cantwell the video of TWP & League of the South marching up Market Street – circles an area of sidewalk and asks if that’s where Cantwell was when he got maced, Cantwell says yes it was.
Judge Moon ends court for today, says two more witnesses expected tomorrow but he will begin giving jury instructions for deliberations tomorrow.
Roberta Kaplan from the plaintiffs’ team says they reached an agreement with defense counsel Josh Smith that means neither Matts Heimbach nor Parrott will take the stand.
Kaplan says there is a proposed deal where each side will take half a day to do closing arguments, suggests doing it on Thursday.
Judge Moon wants closing to start tomorrow, plaintiffs and defense both don’t want to do it tomorrow.
Court is done now – seems like Judge Moon will let closing arguments start Thursday instead of tomorrow as requested by both sides. Plaintiffs will have 2.5 hours for closing, defendants will have 3.5 hours between them.