The University of Virginia moved Friday to effectively ban the main organizer of last summer’s white nationalist rally from its Charlottesville campus, saying students reported he had threatened and harassed them.
The university issued a no-trespass warning to Jason Kessler on Thursday evening and was in the process of serving him with the warning, the university said in a statement Friday.
“The warning was issued due to multiple reports from students that Mr. Kessler threatened them, targeted them through cyber-bullying and cyber-harassment, and targeted them based on protected characteristics,” said that statement, which identified Kessler as a Charlottesville resident.
UVA also said Kessler had “intentionally and purposefully misled” university police regarding a torchlight rally on campus that he helped organize on Aug. 11, the night before the larger event in downtown Charlottesville.
Kessler, a UVA alumnus, denied the allegations.
A right-wing blogger, Kessler saw his profile rise in the self-described “alt-right” community — an offshoot of conservatism mixing racism, white nationalism and populism — as he publicized his fight to prevent the city from moving a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a city park.
Hundreds of attendees and counterprotesters fought violently at the event he planned in part to protest the monument’s removal. After authorities forced the crowd to disband, a car plowed into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing a woman and injuring dozens more. A police helicopter that had been involved in monitoring the event later crashed, killing two troopers on board.
Kessler been named in several lawsuits stemming from the event. He said in an interview Friday that he recently went to the university’s law library to study up on defending himself in some of the lawsuits. He said he made two visits and was harassed while there.
He denied that he did anything wrong and called the university’s statement “defamatory.”
“I’m not going to go back onto campus until my attorneys have dealt with this,” he said.
A university spokesman didn’t respond to a request for further details about how Kessler is alleged to have targeted students based on “protected characteristics.”