How the Charlottesville Rally, the Gov. Whitmer Kidnapping Plot, Etc. Underscore the Threat of Far-Right Extremists
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By Kelly Hartog, Jewish Journal
Hours before the Jewish Museum of Milwaukee hosted a virtual panel on Oct. 8 on the upcoming landmark federal Sines v. Kessler case against the neo-Nazis, white supremacists and hate groups connected with the August 2017 violence in Charlottesville, Va., federal authorities announced they had thwarted a white supremacist plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
The panelists — Amy Spitalnick, executive director of the civil rights nonprofit Integrity First for American (IFA), which is backing the lawsuit; Michael Bloch, attorney at Kaplan Hecker & Fink, which is trying the case and partnering with IFA on litigation; Reggie Jackson, co-founder and lead trainer at Nurturing Diversity Partners; and moderator Hannah Rosenthal, a former special envoy on monitoring and combating anti-Semitism at the U.S. State Department — noted that the incident merely underscores the need to recognize that what happened in Charlottesville was not an isolated incident.
“IFA’s role,” Spitalnick said, “is to make sure we understand how Charlottesville fits into the broader cycle of extremist violence that we’re seeing. It’s so important to understand that Charlottesville was not an isolated incident, but a flashpoint and a harbinger in the lives of white supremacist terror in recent years.”
…Taking on the case, Spitalnick said is a way to “effectively bankrupt and dismantle [these groups] in ways that no other legal effort has done.”
The panelists also cited other recent incidents including (but not limited to), President Donald Trump during the first presidential debate on Sept. 29 calling on the Proud Boys to “stand by” and Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) bringing up the Charlottesville violence three times during their debate, as why now is the time to be having this discussion about white supremacy and far-right extremist hate groups.
Jackson said, “It’s amazing to me that people continue to delude themselves that [these groups] are fringe elements in our society. They are not fringe elements. They are actively recruiting young people on a consistent basis.”
“WE’D BETTER WAKE UP AS A SOCIETY AND REALIZE [WE NEED TO DO] SOMETHING SPECIFIC — NOT JUST THIS LAWSUIT — BUT FORCE OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THE RISE IN THESE HATE GROUPS AND THE VIOLENCE THEY’VE BEEN PERPETRATING.” — REGGIE JACKSON
…Bloch said the key to the case — and why it is so important in today’s climate — is that what happened in Charlottesville was not some random march that somehow spun out of control, but that it was a meticulously planned and executed attack.
“It was revealed shortly after [the Aug. 12 weekend] that all of this was planned on a social media platform called Discord,” Bloch said, “which has invite-only servers. The organizers and defendants in our suit created their own server called Charlottesville 2.0 and they planned the rally in meticulous detail from about June  onward.”
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