Fitzhugh and Fogel make first court appearances

Vernonica Fitzhugh speaks to her supporters before going into court.
Staff photo Vernonica Fitzhugh speaks to her supporters before going into court. Staff photo

Activist Veronica Fitzhugh and commonwealth’s attorney candidate Jeff Fogel both appeared in court this morning for their respective assault charges, accompanied by dozens of supporters.

The brief 10am hearing was over before some people could get through security and into the courtroom.

Fogel represents Fitzhugh, who was charged May 31 with assault and disorderly conduct stemming from a May 20 Downtown Mall encounter with right-winger Jason Kessler, who insists he’s not a white supremacist or white nationalist in a June 2 email to local media that threatens legal action.

Fogel was charged with assault after a confrontation with an associate of Kessler’s outside of Miller’s June 1.

Both Fitzhugh and Fogel were arrested at night with a phalanx of police officers, and Fogel’s attorney, Steve Rosenfield, protested the manner of arrest, as did Fogel when he represented Fitzhugh. Judge Bob Downer quickly shut down those arguments, saying he would not hear political statements.

The pair will be back in court June 19, when a special prosecutor could be named, as well as a new judge, according to Fogel.

He says he’s filed a complaint against the magistrate who had him arrested at 12:30am because the magistrate didn’t like the way Fogel spoke to a police sergeant. He also questions why Fitzhugh was arrested around 9pm more than a week after Kessler claimed she assaulted him, then police say he retracted that allegation on video footage from May 20.

“This is an outrage,” says Fogel. “If it can happen to me, imagine what can happen to someone who’s black, gay or trans.”

More Kessler-related court appearances are scheduled this week. Sarah Tansey, who is charged with destruction of property for allegedly snatching Kessler’s phone, and Joe Draego, who is charged with assault for allegedly retrieving Kessler’s phone from Tansey, will be in court June 8.