Lawsuit seeks to prevent armed white supremacist protest in Charlottesville News
Lawsuit seeks to prevent armed white supremacist protest in Charlottesville

Georgetown Law School’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection [advocacy site] on Thursday filed a lawsuit [complaint, pdf] in the Circuit Court for the City of Charlottesville [official site] seeking to prevent armed organizations from returning to Charlottesville.

The lawsuit was filed in response to the organizations’ leadership calling on their members to keep returning to the city. The suit claims groups associated with the August 12 Unite the Right [JURIST report] rally are a threat to public safety and create a public nuisance

Several white-nationalist organizations came to Charlottesville to fight. Applying techniques developed well in advance, affiliated bands of alt-right warriors used clubs, flagpoles, and shields to batter their ideological opponents. Sporting matching uniforms and weaponry—and with command structures to coordinate their actions—they functioned as paramilitary units. These paramilitary organizations and their leaders (the Alt-Right Defendants) wielded their weapons on August 12 not “as individuals” exercising their Second Amendment rights to self-defense, but “as members of a fighting force.”

The suit further alleges that the violent rhetoric and action present an immediate threat for the local citizens, noting that “key organizers and leaders of the Unite the Right rally” visited Charlottesville five days ago “reappearing at
Emancipation Park in a torchlit procession designed to intimidate local residents.”

Additionally, the suit accused the groups of violating established law by using paramilitary techniques and identification tactics, arguing that court intervention is necessary because, “as through centuries of American tradition, the government alone retains a monopoly on the organized use of force.”

The lawsuit is seeking injunctive and declaratory relief “to prevent Defendants from returning to Virginia organized as military units and engaging in paramilitary activity. Without such relief, Charlottesville will be forced to relive the frightful spectacle of August 12: an invasion of roving paramilitary bands and unaccountable vigilante peacekeepers.”

Opinions expressed in JURIST Commentary are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JURIST's editors, staff, donors or the University of Pittsburgh.