I'm no lawyer, but I see problems with Jason Kessler's Complaint...
The ACLU of Virginia, and the Rutherford Institute have tonight filed a Federal Complaint on behalf of Jason Kessler, seeking the reinstatement of the permit for the Unite The Right rally which was to take place at Emancipation Park on Saturday. Folks, I am not an attorney. I have no experience with law. But here are my thoughts on this Complaint.
The Complaint states that the permit was "granted" by the Defendants on June 13, 2017. The permit was not "granted" however, it was "deemed granted" due to not being denied within ten days of the application, which would have been June 13th. The ACLU and the Rutherford Institute appear to be using the term "granted" interchangeably with "deemed granted", even though they are actually two different things.
The City of Charlottesville has Standard Operating Procedures which spell out rules and regulations relating to BOTH demonstrations and special events. Mr. Kessler is having a demonstration, not a special event.
There are some rules which do not apply to Mr. Kessler's demonstration which would apply to a special event. Section 3.4.5 of the Standard Operating Procedures spell out the seven reasons that the city can deny a permit for. In this case, I am assuming that "b. Dangerous Activity or Location" would apply.
Section 3.4.7 of the Standard Operating Procedures spell out how the city can "revoke" a permit. According to this section, the Events Coordinator has the power to revoke a permit due to the condition of the permit, in this case, I would assume that the estimated turnout that Mr. Kessler originally listed as 400, and then subsequently bragged about having larger numbers would apply. Subheading c. of Section 3.4.7 tells us that these rules apply to not only permits that are "granted", but also ones that are "deemed granted".
Section 7 of Kessler's Complaint states that the city has allowed other events to go on in the park without incident. This is true, but the event they reference is a "special event" and not a "demonstration" in a highly charged and polarized atmosphere. Comparing apples and oranges. Additionally, the event they reference was a festival, in which participants filtered in and out of the grounds all day long. The referenced event lasted 7 hours, where Kessler's will last 5. Kessler's demonstrators will likely be holed up in the space, corralled so to speak, as opposed to an open environment where people can filter in and out of the grounds as they choose. I think we do have to take into account the environment is not comparable.
Perhaps the Charlottesville Police Department never worried about the previous events because they weren't events that were called the "East Coast Berkeley" by the events sponsor? I do believe he is referring to the violent confrontation that happened in Berkeley, California earlier this year, but I can't say for sure. The next part I really love because as stated in the Complaint, it's based on "information and belief", but gives no indication as to what information or belief, that the granted permits for events in two other parks expect an attendance of 1,000 persons. I wonder where the Plaintiff got those figures? After all, the Plaintiff is challenging the City's belief that Mr. Kessler's numbers have grown since his original application was made. Fair is fair, and if the city has to back-up their numbers, we should expect for the ACLU to back-up theirs. Lets look at the applications for the other two events noted in the Complaint.
Maybe it's just me, but those numbers look like they add up to between 275-300 persons. I might have missed it, or not be privy to more recent estimates of the turnout in either of those two parks, but based upon the original estimates, they are still expecting 100 persons less than Mr. Kessler's estimate spread across two parks. Additionally, the demonstrations in Justice and McGuffey Parks are set to take place between 9am and 7pm, a span of 11hours. Perhaps the most compelling estimates of Mr. Kessler's Unite The Right rally turnout might come from him directly, in court, under oath? Not that I personally would trust anything he says under oath based upon his track record of providing statements to authorities. Finally, lest we forget that the city of Charlottesville did not approve two permits the other day, they approved 3. Unfortunately, Mr. Kessler chose not to agree to the terms of the approved permit, in which case the Standard Operating Procedures make clear that the city reserves all rights, including revocation, as pointed out in their notification to Mr. Kessler of the approval of his permit.
I must admit, I find it personally extremely ironic that Mr. Kessler even filed a lawsuit against the city. After all, he's already stated that permit or no permit, he's going to be in Emancipation Park. Anyone want to take a guess as to why having a permit is so important to Mr. Kessler, who really doesn't seem to care whether he has one or not? There must be some reason I'm overlooking here? Lastly, Attorney Lloyd Snook adds this little nugget in his newest blog post.
Restoring the honor!