Jury found 2017 Charlottesville rally organizers owe more than $25 million in punitive damages
New York, NY, November 23, 2021 … ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) today celebrated the jury’s verdict in the civil lawsuit against the organizers of the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va. in which the plaintiffs were backed by ADL partner Integrity First for America (IFA).
“We welcome the jury’s verdict today that found the defendants liable in four counts and awarded more than $25 million in punitive damages,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “This was one of the most important cases against extremists in modern history; it exposed the depths of hate that motivated the defendants and impaired their ability to take further action. We thank our partners at Integrity First for America for expertly and persistently pursuing justice, sending an important message to extremists everywhere that we will hold them accountable.”
Plaintiffs in IFA’s suit included a Christian minister, students at the University of Virginia, and other local community members injured August 11 and 12, 2017 during the “Unite the Right” violence. The lawsuit named as defendants two dozen white supremacists and neo-Nazis, including Richard Spencer, Jason Kessler, Christopher Cantwell, Identity Evropa, Vanguard America, League of the South, and more. Sines v. Kessler, which alleges that the defendants violated the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, the Civil Rights Act of 1866, and various other statutes, uniquely used the justice system to take on the leaders of America’s white supremacist movement.
ADL supported this work as part of its long history of fighting bigotry, hate, and bias. As part of this partnership, ADL donated $100,000 in support of Integrity First for America’s legal work; donations to IFA support critical case needs, including security and evidence collection. Additionally, ADL’s Center on Extremism, which is a clearinghouse of up-to-the minute information about extremism of all types, offered consulting services to IFA, and ADL joined IFA’s board.
ADL’s Center on Extremism has identified many of the individuals and groups behind the original Charlottesville rally, and documented how the event was part of a four-year resurgence in white supremacist activity that has included rampant dissemination of hate propaganda and a broader series of violent attacks occurring since.