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    Charlottesville Protest Organizer Released on Bond After Perjury Indictment

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    Jason Kessler, the chief organizer of the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 11, has been released on bond after being indicted on a felony perjury charge earlier this week.

    An Albemarle County circuit court clerk confirmed that Kessler, 34, was released Tuesday just one hour after being booked into jail.

    According to court records, the perjury charge stems from a sworn statement the white nationalist activist made before a county magistrate on January 23 alleging that a Charlottesville resident, James Taylor, punched him in the face at the city's Downtown Mall. The incident occurred as Kessler was trying to gather signatures for his petition to get the city's vice mayor removed from office.

    "He and his buddy came over, they scribbled on my petition and vandalized it," he said at the time. "James didn't want to have a conversation with me, he yelled you're a… and he called me a name. I felt threatened and I hit him to get him away from me."

    Taylor, in turn, accused Kessler of assaulting him.

    "He handed me his clipboard so I could read it and I handed it back to him," he said. "I said what I said to him and he didn't like it."

    After prosecutors found video evidence disproving Kessler's claim, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 50 hours of community service. Charges against Taylor were dismissed.

    Kessler admitted to punching Taylor in the face after the two exchanged curse words.

    "I'll admit that what I did was not legal," he told reporters. "I was having a bad day. I've never done anything like this before and it will never happen again."

    If convicted of the felony charge, Kessler faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $2,500 fine.

    ​Kessler, who has affiliations with various white nationalist groups, planned the August 11 and 12 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville to protest the City Council's plan to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and rename a local park "Emancipation Park." One woman was killed and more than a dozen injured when a car allegedly driven by one of the rally's participants plowed at high speed into a group of counter-protesters on a city street.

    Related:

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    Perjury, arrest, release, Charlottesville violence, United States
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