(Authors Note: I was one of the lead organizers for the rally and some of my reporting is a first-hand account. DO NOT under any circumstances interact with any Antifa implicated in this article. Leave that for the lawyers.)
FOIA documents obtained by Shadowproof show that UVA police were using hearsay from the anarcho-communist website It’s Going Down to inform their negligent response to the Alt-Right’s torchlit march on August 11th. They ignored repeated requests for assistance from both Unite the Right marchers as well as UVA students and staff.
The Unite the Right organizers had discussed the possibility of doing a civil rights march from so-called “Nameless Field” to a Thomas Jefferson statue in front of the UVA Rotunda for some time. However we were uncertain until the night of August 11th whether to actually go through with it due to a pending court case surrounding the next day’s rally and leaked planning details by Left-wing agitators.
As early as 3:23pm on August 11th, emails show UVA Chief of Staff Anda Webb alerting police about the march (and parroting a fake Left-wing talking point about there being a march on St. Paul’s Church).
By 7:52pm, the night of the march, UVA Chief of Police Mark Gibson was emailing an It’s Going Down article about the march to Charlottesville Chief of Police Al Thomas. It’s Going Down is an extremist site which has helped organize violence against right-wing activists and police officers around the country. They were running logistics for the J20 riots at Donald Trump’s inauguration, for instance.
The article was based on incomplete or inaccurate information obtained through one of the planning servers for the event.
Around 7pm a couple dozen Unite the Right organizers were meeting at McIntire Park to discuss security arrangements for the next day’s rally. People were skeptical about moving forward with the march considering that we had so much on our plate for the Saturday rally and the fact that we expected an ambush from Antifa, due to the leaking of plans.
Ultimately consensus was reached to go forward with the march. At the insistence of UTR speaker Chris Cantwell we decided to involve police to ensure that peace was kept between demonstrators and the Antifa who felt entitled to “confront” us.
At this point I called both of my PD liaisons: Charlottesville Captains Wendy Lewis and Victor Mitchell. Lewis was contacted at 7:16pm and Mitchell was called at 7:29pm. Charlottesville PD refused to offer assistance because it was “not their jurisdiction”. While technically true, every branch of law enforcement was supposed to be working in coordination with each other during the UTR weekend from city, county, state and federal agencies and there should have been a capability, indeed a responsibility, to coordinate a cohesive response.
I directly requested assistance from UVA police and received a phone call from a Lt. Tabler at 7:46pm. I informed her of the march and that we required police presence to ensure the safety of both demonstrators and counter-demonstrators. She confirmed that UVA police would cooperate to ensure the safety of all involved. I handed off the phone to my co-organizer Elliott Kline (now head of activist organization Identity Europa) who had been placed in charge of security arrangements.
Elliot spoke with Lt. Tabler for about 3 minutes and then told me that UVA had agreed to remove and separate protesters from the base of the Thomas Jefferson statue we were marching to. All of the August 11th marchers, including Chris Cantwell, engaged in the march under the assumption that, as Elliott Kline had indicated, UVA police were going to be onsite to de-escalate any potential conflicts so that they would not turn violent.
Via phone Saturday morning, Lt. Tabler contradicted some of Kline’s version of events. “He didn’t let me know at that time that there were definitely going to be protesters there.” She claims to have told him, “We will monitor the situation, which is what occurred, however we could not remove anyone from that area because (of First Amendment issues).”
I agreed with Lt. Tabler that First Amendment issues could come into play for both sides but that that was not a satisfactory response for why police were not onsite to de-escalate and ensure safety. They had received multiple requests for assistance and been given a time both sides would likely interact at the Rotunda.
The idea that police didn’t know that Antifa would be there to confront the Alt-Right marchers is laughable. The IGD article being shared by the UVA and Charlottesville police chiefs included a call to action for far Left activists to confront and disrupt the march. The article stated, “It’s beyond obvious that this is not about free speech but terrorism. Charlottesville’s Black and brown folks must be protected at all costs, but the police don’t seem to care. Will UVA and its community take action to stand against white supremacist terrorism on campus? Will Charlottesville allow a torchlit rally to go down in city limits again?”
UVA Student Councilor Alex Cintron also alerted Police Chief Gibson requesting safety information about the planned march. Instead of asking protestors not to “confront” the marchers or ensuring that police would arrive to keep the peace he replied that they would simply be “monitoring the situation” (aka standing down).
UVA President Teresa Sullivan has already been caught lying about the response to the march. When a student asked her why there wasn’t a more sufficient response she claimed, “We didn’t know they were coming.” Two days later Sullivan contradicted her earlier statement and admitted that law enforcement was aware of the march Friday afternoon. Her new excuse for the lack of administrative intervention became, “There was a compelling interest in not attracting more protesters and heightened violence.”
Contrary to the mainstream media narrative about the event the Alt-Right marchers had no interest in confronting anyone. We had a legal right to demonstrate on public university property and simply wanted to gather at the statue in support of our heritage. It was the decision of the Left-wing Antifa to gather at the statue prior to our march and initiate a confrontation.