Jason Kessler, the white nationalist who organized the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, has been arrested and charged in connection with allegedly tweeting the home address of local activist Emily Gorcenski.
Mr. Kessler, 34, was taken into custody Tuesday morning and charged with intent to coerce, intimidate or harass, a class 1 misdemeanor carrying up to 12 month behind bars and a $2,500 fine upon conviction, according to the Charlottesville Police Department. He was released afterwards on an unsecured bond.
Ms. Gorcenski, a data scientist and self-described leftist activist, said a warrant was issued for Mr. Kessler’s arrest after she filed a formal complaint with a Charlottesville City magistrate in response to an Oct. 3 tweet posted by New Byzantium, a since-shuttered Twitter account linked to the accused, containing her name, home address and a picture of her residence — a tactic colloquially known as “doxing.”
Armed police were dispatched to Ms. Gorcenski’s residence five days after the New Byzantium tweet upon receiving a 911 call from someone falsely claiming an incident was unfolding at her address — “swatting,” in online parlance.
“As a gun owner and a complainant in the high-profile case … I have developed a tendency to answer the door with a firearm in close proximity,” Ms. Gorcenski said in a blog post Tuesday. “Since the fatal August 12 rally, I have had two incidents where an unknown person was banging aggressively on my door, causing me to check my house for threats with my gun loaded and in my hand. This call very well may have led to police shooting me dead.”
Ms. Gorcenski was not home at the time of the swatting, she wrote in the post.
Mr. Kessler had announced the formation of New Byzantium on his personal blog a week before the tweet was posted, and its Twitter account previously posted a recruitment ad featuring an email linked to his website. He claimed someone else authored the tweet containing Ms. Gorcenski’s address, however, and tweeted Tuesday that the “magistrate who issued the charge is abusing process.”
“I’ve been to the cops and courts probably a dozen times complaining about people posting my address & they don’t care. But someone alleges that an account I don’t run listed their PUBLICLY AVAILABLE address & I’m charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor. WTF,” Mr. Kessler tweeted Tuesday.
Ms. Gorcenski said she’s since received information indicating someone else may have penned the tweet and planned to relay the evidence to local authorities.
“I am invested in due process and if Mr. Kessler wants to name the person who wrote the tweets, then great, I’ll charge that person instead,” she tweeted Tuesday. “But I believe the principles of vicarious liability may hold here, so Mr. Kessler not writing the tweets himself may be irrelevant.”
The “Unite the Right” rally had been billed as a protest held in opposition of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee being removed from downtown Charlottesville, but the event infamously descended into chaos upon clashes breaking out between counterprotesters and participants including white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other racists.
Two state troopers died in a helicopter crash while monitoring the violence, and Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal, was killed when a motorist drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, according to police.
Ms. Gorcenski said she was about 15 feet from Heyer at the time of her death, The Washington Post reported.