Not guilty: A win for Veronica Fitzhugh

  • LEAVE A COMMENT
Several supporters lined up outside of Charlottesville General District Court October 20 to hug Veronica Fitzhugh, who was found not guilty of obstructing free passage at the July 8 KKK rally. Staff photo

Updated Tuesday, October 24 at 3pm with a second story about court appearances on Monday, October 23.

 

Even months prior to August 12, the community was up to its figurative elbows in lawsuits stemming from the emergence of Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler into the local spotlight and the people who’ve made it their goal to publicly confront him.

At the end of last week and the beginning of this one, several familiar faces from the alt-right, as well as its rejectors, were in Charlottesville General District court to learn their fate from Judge Robert Downer.

Wearing a hot pink wig and carrying a Donald Trump mask as a purse, Black Lives Matter activist Veronica Fitzhugh was found not guilty October 20 of obstructing free passage at the summer’s Ku Klux Klan rally in Justice Park.

An arresting officer with the Charlottesville Police Department testified that Fitzhugh refused to leave a passageway police had secured to safely usher the KKK into the park for its permitted demonstration July 8.

The Klan was in town to protest the removal of the city’s General Robert E. Lee statue, and Fitzhugh and about 10 other counterprotesters locked arms in front of a gate into the park, delaying the white supremacist rally for about an hour, according to the CPD officer’s testimony.

When Fitzhugh was instructed to step away from the gate, she laid down in front of it and was carried out by four officers.

“No one was allowed in there except for the people authorized by the police, so this was not a public passageway,” argued her attorney, Jeff Fogel, who noted that the CPD officer’s body cam footage showed a cameraman was also standing in front of the gate that officers later corralled the Klan through. “I don’t know how they could claim Ms. Fitzhugh was obstructing the gate and that gentleman wasn’t.”

The following Monday, in the same courtroom, her attorney had several wins and losses—for additional clients and himself.

On June 1, Kessler’s own video evidence shows he and his buddy, Caleb Norris, approached Fogel outside Miller’s on the Downtown Mall. They were surrounded by members of activist group Showing Up for Racial Justice, as its members shouted “Nazi, go home” at the alleged alt-righters.

The video shows Kessler chastising Fogel for calling him a “crybaby” in April, and Norris can be heard calling the attorney a “communist piece of shit.” Fogel replies, “What did you say?” and is seen putting his hands toward Norris.

“Oh my God, this guy just assaulted my friend,” an elated Kessler says, and urges his friend to press charges against the lawyer who was running for commonwealth’s attorney at the time.

Back in the courtroom, Fogel, represented by his law partner Steve Rosenfield, said Norris leaned over at him and put his hands up to keep Norris from coming any closer. In the video, it was unclear whether Norris leaned into Fogel, but Downer cited Fogel’s unaggressive disposition when Kessler was lambasting him earlier in the clip, and said he couldn’t find Fogel guilty.

Fogel also represented Sara Tansey October 16, who was charged with destruction of property for snatching Kessler’s phone while he was live-streaming a February 11 Corey Stewart rally in Emancipation Park.

Joe Draego, best known for suing the city for being dragged out of a City Council meeting in June 2016 (after he called Muslims “monstrous maniacs” and lay down on the floor), testified that he took the phone out of Tansey’s hand and gave it back to Kessler.

While Tansey was found guilty for nabbing Kessler’s cell phone, Draego was also found guilty of assault and battery of Tansey when he took the phone back.

The judge waived Tansey’s $50 fine, and Draego was ordered to fork over $100.

Fitzhugh was also charged May 31 with assault and disorderly conduct stemming from an encounter with Kessler, in which she allegedly screamed in his face and told him to “fucking go home” as he was sitting at a table on the Downtown Mall.

The activist, known for her outlandish wardrobe, will go to trial for the assault and disorderly conduct charges November 20. What will she wear next?

Among the familiar faces in court this week was Veronica Fitzhugh, wearing a hot pink wig and carrying a purse that resembled Donald Trump’s head.

———————————————————————————-

Original story:

Wearing a hot pink wig and carrying the head of Donald Trump as a purse, activist Veronica Fitzhugh was found not guilty of obstructing free passage at the summer’s Ku Klux Klan rally in Justice Park.

An arresting officer with the Charlottesville Police Department testified in the city’s general district court October 20 that Fitzhugh refused to leave a passageway police had secured to safely usher the KKK into the park for their permitted demonstration July 8.

The Klan had dropped by to protest the tearing down of the city’s General Robert E. Lee statue, and Fitzhugh and about 10 other counterprotesters locked arms in front of a gate into the park, delaying the white supremacist rally for about an hour, according to the CPD officer’s testimony.

Police warned the crowd that they would be arrested if they did not clear the pathway for the North Carolina group called the Loyal White Knights, and as some counterprotesters began to disperse, Fitzhugh laid down in front of the gate, the officer said. He and three Virginia State Police troopers then carried her out of the vicinity, and she was charged with obstruction of free passage.

“No one was allowed in there except for the people authorized by the police, so this was not a public passageway,” argued her attorney, Jeff Fogel, who noted in the CPD officer’s body cam footage that a cameraman was also standing in front of the gate that officers later corralled the Klan through. “I don’t’ know how they could claim Ms. Fitzhugh was obstructing the gate and that gentleman wasn’t.”

Commonwealth’s Attorney Dave Chapman, who prosecuted the case, said she was arrested for “admirable reasons” and “she simply took it too far.”

Judge Robert Downer found her not guilty, and Fitzhugh and Fogel emerged from the courthouse to a crowd of about 30 supporters, who cheered and clapped and lined up to hug the activist who wore a hot pink, rhinestone handcuff necklace that matched her bodacious wig.

Fitzhugh was was also charged May 31 with assault and disorderly conduct stemming from an encounter with homegrown white nationalist Jason Kessler on the Downtown Mall, in which she allegedly screamed in his face for him to “fucking go home.” Her attorney was charged with assault after a confrontation with an associate of Kessler’s June 1.

The activist, known for her outlandish wardrobe, will go to trial for the assault and disorderly conduct charges November 20. What will she wear next?

Veronica Fitzhugh knows how to accessorize. Staff photo

Leave a Comment

Comment Policy