CHARLOTTESVILLE (AP) A federal judge late Friday ordered the city of Charlottesville to allow a weekend rally of white nationalists and other extremists to take place at its originally planned location downtown.
U.S. District Judge Glen Conrad granted a preliminary injunction Friday evening in a lawsuit filed against the city by right-wing blogger Jason Kessler.
Kessler organized the Saturday rally to protest Charlottesville’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park.
The city announced earlier that the rally must be moved out of Emancipation Park to a larger one, citing safety reasons. The rally and counter-protests were expected to draw thousands of people.
Kessler sued, saying the change was a free speech violation. Kessler was represented by lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia Foundation and the Rutherford Institute along with Victor M. Glasberg of Alexandria. Glasberg argued for Kessler by telephone at a Friday afternoon hearing.
The city said in a statement that it would abide by the judge’s decision.