WTOP, a local station in the DC Metro Area, recently ran a story about last weekend’s arrest of 31 Patriot Front members at a Pride event in Idaho. Patriot Front is a neo-Nazi group that sprang out of Vanguard America in the wake of Unite the Right in Charlottesville, a rebranding effort that followed the wake of the revelations that Charlottesville terrorist James Alex Fields marched with Vanguard during the rally and before his fatal attack. Since their rebranding, Patriot Front has been popping up every few months at various locations around the country. DC was one of them.
Unlike previous rallies where Patriot Front ended up with a rather robust police escort, in Idaho things turned out a little different: the 31 men were arrested on charges of conspiracy to riot, and while it is too early to judge whether the evidence will be sufficient for a local or even federal prosecution, Patriot Front’s violent behavior has been well documented for years.
What I find strange is that when WTOP wrote the article, they elected to interview former Charlottesville mayor and failed City Councilor Mike Signer. Signer was mayor of Charlottesville during the summer of 2017, when multiple hate rally organizers found the City a welcoming home that offered little formal resistance to their plans. Of course, the local community was outraged that our small city was becoming the go-to place for neo-Nazi rallies in America. We spent a good deal of the summer actively working to prevent Unite the Right and all of the other affiliated rallies from taking place. Signer presided over all of this; he manifestly failed to prevent any of it, instead often working actively against the community.
(Full disclosure: Signer is, or at least was until recently, a co-worker of my wife).
In the WTOP article, Signer is quoted as saying, “in that way of linking together all these pieces, in a way that couldn’t really be done in Charlottesville, they avoided the biggest trap. In Charlottesville, everybody got to say, well, this is just free speech.” The problem with this is that this is complete bullshit and a bald-faced lie.
Because I am the person who personally handed Mike Signer exactly the kind of evidence he references in this case. And he is the one who said, in essence, “well, this is just free speech.”
At a City Council meeting on July 17, 2017, I handed a lengthy dossier to Charlottesville City Council, including Signer and then-City Manager Maurice Jones. The dossier detailed numerous overt and implicit threats by known and unknown persons affiliated with Jason Kessler and his organizing of Unite the Right. These included direct threats against Signer and Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy. The dossier was assembled by me and several community members who helped source, analyze, and assess the threats. The document cited to the city code with clear rationale for why the permit for Unite the Right should have been denied.
Before now, I have never published the dossier publicly. But I’m changing that now. The dossier can be read directly below.
Signer has been challenged several times about his failures to take the community’s concerns seriously. Every time he is confronted, he blames city attorneys, saying they didn’t find the threats credible. Nevertheless, though those threats did manifest. Blaming the attorneys is one thing, but the city didn’t even try. In their response to Jason Kessler’s lawsuit seeking a preliminary injunction against the city’s attempt to move the rally, the City failed to reference the threats. In fact, the only mention of threats of neo-Nazi violence is a reference to earlier rallies in Berkeley, where the City’s motion recklessly blames “both ends of the political spectrum.”
Mike Signer was uniquely unqualified to lead Charlottesville and he is astonishingly unqualified to proffer any opinion on how to combat neo-Nazi threats.
Mike Signer ignored me when I raised the alarm.
Mike Signer and the City of Charlottesville left us to die.
Mike Signer will never learn his lesson, because Mike Signer’s ego can’t be served by learning his lesson.
Best of luck at your new gig, Mike. Try not to let the Nazis rent out Charlottesville.