A Charlottesville judge on Friday awarded $5 to Jason Kessler, the organizer behind a white supremacist rally that turned violent last year, after an activist cursed at him, violating Virginia’s anti-dueling statute.
Kessler had filed a $500 lawsuit against Donna Gasapo, alleging that she had used profanity and insulting language against him outside of an assault trial in March, according to The Daily Progress.
He argued that Gasapo’s language, which included “F— you … f— you, a—— … crybaby Kessler,” could have led to violence.
Kessler posted a video of the incident online.
“This is an opportunity to bring civility back to our community,” Kessler said, according to the Daily Progress.
Kessler was one of the main organizers of the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville last year, which led to violent clashes in the small town, resulting in the death of Heather Heyer.
Gasapo did not deny that she used the language, and her attorney argued that she was protected by the First Amendment, the Daily Progress reported.
“Someone in our community was murdered,” Gasapo said when asked about her language, according to the news outlet. “White supremacists stormed into our city. It doesn’t sit well with me.”
Judge Robert H. Downer Jr. said that while Gasapo was free to make public statements, her words did threaten to breach the peace in the setting.
Downer said he did not believe that Kessler was harmed by the remarks because he posted the video online.
Gasapo’s attorney did not rule out appealing the judge’s decision.
“I’m comforted by the fact that the judge recognized that Mr. Kessler was not damaged in any way here,”Pam Starsia said, according to the Daily Progress. “We’ll have to discuss our options.”
“I think we should all be very concerned about what this ruling means in terms of opening up other frivolous harassment suits against members of our community who are expressing their opinions and their very real feelings of frustration, which we believe are protected by the First Amendment.”