Perhaps you’ve heard by now that homegrown white nationalist Jason Kessler was indicted by a grand jury for perjury and released on bond October 3.
While the guy who became famous in a small town for his crusade against Vice-Mayor Wes Bellamy isn’t commenting on his most recent moment in the spotlight, the man he accused of socking him while out collecting signatures for a petition to remove the only African-American on City Council is.
Jay Taylor was charged with assault in the January 22 incident on the Downtown Mall, but the prosecution dropped the misdemeanor when video footage from a nearby surveillance camera didn’t support the account that Kessler swore under oath was the truth.
Taylor says he’s been pushing Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert Tracci to look at the evidence and file charges ever since—and he says anyone who knows him could probably tell the accusation was false from the start.
“I would describe myself as a fairly mild-mannered guy,” says Taylor, a 54-year-old Albemarle County artist, craftsman and handyman who was not a stranger to Kessler when the two had their Downtown Mall scuffle. “I’m not a reactionary. I don’t fight. One of my life mottoes is ‘just enough, not too much.’”
When Kessler handed over his clipboard, Taylor says he told Kessler he didn’t vote in the city, but wanted to learn more about what he was calling for.
“As I was reading the petition, it occurred to me that what he was after had nothing to do with Wes Bellamy, or fixing anything,” Taylor says. “All he was trying to do was create chaos, create discord, continue his hate speech, and it didn’t have anything to do with making things better.”
When he pointed that out, Kessler hit him and told the police who intervened that Taylor punched him first and he was acting in self-defense. Kessler, who pleaded guilty to assault April 6, has since said he was just having a bad day.
While it’s certainly been a trend in Charlottesville to create GoFundMe pages for victims of Kessler’s efforts, such as the Unite the Right rally, Taylor says he can’t in good conscience create one for himself, though he’s out $3,000.
“That’s not who I am,” he says. “Though this whole thing has kind of derailed me for this year and I am behind on a lot of things and could certainly use some help, it isn’t necessarily about me. It’s about the community and about what harm is being done to our community. I was the canary in the coal mine.”
Kessler’s name became nationally recognized for his neo-Nazi rally that left three dead and many wounded August 12, and when City Councilor Kristin Szakos saw it on the public comment list for the October 2 council meeting, she called it “disturbing,” and said, “He is the person who called down the wrath of the far-right on our city.”
He did not show up to speak, and audience members sprang to their feet to clap for the antifa who allegedly drove Kessler and members of League of the South, a Southern nationalist group, out of town that day, when they were reportedly spotted scouting Emancipation and Justice parks and on the Downtown Mall.
That was also the day someone slipped a sheet of paper under the door of C-VILLE Weekly’s Downtown Mall office. It advertised the “New Byzantium Project,” and asked people interested in becoming a member of the “premier organization for pro-white advocacy in the 21st century” to email Kessler.
“We aim to create a foundation by which the European heritage of the Western world may survive the inevitable collapse of the American Empire,” the flier said. “New Byzantium is a civil rights organization operating through nonviolent action.”
One of the alt-right figurehead’s arguments for why he does what he does is that he has the right to, observes Taylor.
“I think one of the things that’s becoming more and more clear to me is just because you have the right does not mean you should use it.”
A week after his Unite the Right rally, organizer Jason Kessler tweeted, “Heather Heyer was a fat, disgusting Communist. Communists have killed 94 million. Looks like it was payback time.”
The next morning, he deleted it, and claimed he’d been hacked. He repudiated the “heinous” tweet, and then admitted to having been on a mixture of drugs and alcohol when he wrote it. “I sometimes wake up having done strange things I can’t remember,” he tweeted.
Then he deleted his account.
The apology wasn’t enough for some of his former buddies. Here’s what they had to say:
UVA grad Richard Spencer, often credited for creating the alt-right movement, tweeted, “I will no longer associate w/ Jason Kessler; no one should. Heyer’s death was deeply saddening. ‘Payback’ is a morally reprehensible idea.”
Tim Gionet, aka Baked Alaska, who was billed as a speaker for Unite the Right, tweeted, “This is terribly wrong and vile. We should not rejoice at the people who died in Charlottesville just because we disagree with them.”
Calling Kessler’s tweet “very gross,” co- host of Nationalist Review and rally attendee James Allsup tweeted, “Assuming this is a real tweet and his account was not hacked, I will no longer attend or cover events put on by Jason Kessler.”
And popular alt-right twitter account @FaustianNation tweeted at Kessler, “Why. Would You. Tweet This. This tweet makes
it impossible to defend you, and now the entire rally as you were the main organizer.”
In an email to C-VILLE, the Colorado Proud Boys said, “Kessler is not a Proud Boy. His only involvement was participating in a meet up, and being disavowed, and booted out shortly after.”