A judge cut off white nationalist Richard Spencer three times Thursday during his opening statement.
Spencer is representing himself in a civil lawsuit against the “Unite The Right” rally organizers because he can’t afford an attorney.
The judge told Spencer to “stick to the facts of this case” when he talked about BLM protests.
A federal judge cut off white nationalist Richard Spencer three times as he gave his opening statement Thursday at the civil trial for the organizers of the deadly 2017 “Unite the Right” rally.
Spencer is one of 25 defendants in a civil lawsuit brought against the organizers of the Charlottesville, Virginia, rally where James Alex Fields Jr. deliberately drove his car into a group of counterprotesters, killing Heather Heyer and injuring 35 other people.
The plaintiffs in the case are a group of nine Charlottesville residents and counter-protestors who were injured in the car attack and other instances of violence at the two-day rally. The plaintiffs allege in the lawsuit that the “Unite the Right” organizers conspired to incite violence, and are seeking compensatory and statutory damages for their injuries. caused to them.
Spencer is representing himself at trial because he can’t pay attorney fees, according to the Accosiated Press.
During Spencer’s opening statement, Judge Norman K. Moon first cut off the white nationalist when he said that he had never been arrested in relation to violence at the rally. Whether anyone was arrested was irrelevant because the plaintiffs brought a civil lawsuit, Moon said.
Moon cut Spencer off a second time when he began ranting about Black Lives Matter protests that took place in summer 2020, which he said “eventuated in vandalism, looting, violence,” and “riots.”
Spencer argued that BLM protests and the “Unite The Right” rally fall under the same umbrella of free speech, but Moon didn’t allow him to finish the thought before admonishing him to “stick to the facts of this case.”
Moon interrupted Spencer for a third and final time when the white nationalist started talking about what implications he thought his case would have on the concept of “justice.”
“We’re not sending a message here,” Moon told Spencer. “The question is, do the claimants prove what they must prove to hold the defendants liable?”
Karen Dunn, an attorney for the plaintiffs, pointed to text and Discord messages between the defendants that said they were “forming an army” and “ready to crack skulls” as evidence that they organized the rally with the goal of inciting violence in Charlottesville.
Dunn noted a particular text message exchange between Spencer and Cristopher Cantwell, a white nationalist who was convicted on assault charges related to the rally. In the exchange, Cantwell said he was “willing to risk a lot for our cause” including “violence and incarceration,” but said he wanted to check with Spencer to see if it was “worth it.”
Spencer responded, “It is, at least for me,” Dunn told the jury.
Spencer argued in his opening statement that he shouldn’t be a party to the suit, claiming he didn’t take part in organizing the rally.
Spencer said he only agreed to speak at “Unite The Right” at the invitation of Jason Kessler, the event’s main organizer, and called Cantwell an “acquaintance” with whom he had only exchanged “a few” text messages and “ate lunch with one time.”
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