Alt-righters found guilty of failing to disperse

JonPaul Struys, Evan McLaren and Nathan Damigo leave Charlottesville District Court after being convicted of failing to disperse August 12.
Photo Natalie Jacobsen JonPaul Struys, Evan McLaren and Nathan Damigo leave Charlottesville District Court after being convicted of failing to disperse August 12. Photo Natalie Jacobsen

Police had to intervene after an October 13 court hearing where three white nationalists were found guilty of failure to disperse during the Unite the Right rally, and then were chased into a nearby parking garage by people waiting for them outside the courthouse.

Counterprotesters with their middle fingers in the air rushed Nathan Damigo, Evan McLaren and JonPaul Struys when they left Charlottesville General District Court. The group chanted “fuck white supremacists” and followed the men into the Market Street Garage where McLaren was parked.

Damigo—founder of white supremacist group Identity Evropa—trailed McLaren—the executive director of the National Policy Institute, which was formerly reigned by Richard Spencer—to the car while Struys turned to face the angry group, making a peace sign and pursing his lips.

About a dozen police were on-hand, and ordered everyone who wasn’t parked in the garage to leave. The three men then rode off in the silver car McLaren was driving.

In court, Virginia State Police troopers testified they arrested Damigo and Struys on August 12 after the rally had been declared an unlawful assembly and its participants were instructed to leave Emancipation Park. The two refused to leave and pushed up against the shields of a line of riot cops.

Another trooper testified that McLaren was lying face down on the ground in the park when he was arrested for failure to disperse.

All three are represented by Elmer Woodard, who also represents “Crying Nazi” Chris Cantwell and Richard Preston, who’s charged with firing a gun during the rally. The Blairs, Virginia-based attorney argued that the rally should never have been declared an unlawful assembly, so police did not have grounds to arrest the men.

He said his clients were “bellyaching,” and not participating in violence.

Attorney Elmer Woodard threatens to sue a photographer if she sells his image for profit. Photo Natalie Jacobsen

Brian O’Donnell, who served as a Charlottesville Police Department zone commander August 12, testified that people in attendance threw bottles, used pepper spray and beat each other with sticks and bats, and prosecutor Nina-Alice Antony said that was enough to declare the meetup unlawful.

But Woodard said all of the violence was happening on the outskirts of the permitted area, so if an unlawful assembly needed to be declared, it should have only affected those participating in violence outside of Emancipation Park. He called rally organizer Jason Kessler to testify, who said the three alt-righters in question were his guests, and they all behaved during the event.

As the homegrown white nationalist took the stand, he was greeted with hissing from courtroom attendee Nancy Carpenter.

“I didn’t see anybody making any violence,” Kessler said, and added that the drone footage of the event that he watched a few days ago was “super boring.”

Judge Robert Downer found all three men guilty of the class one misdemeanor, and fined Damigo and Struys $200. McLaren, who was “cordial” with police, was ordered to fork over $100.

The three have appealed the charges and will appear on the December docket call in Charlottesville Circuit Court, according to prosecutor Antony.


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