The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) reports that Jason Kessler, the organizer of last Saturday’s white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, is rumored to be a former Occupy Wall Street activist and supporter of Barack Obama.
The left-wing SPLC is often partisan and overzealous in targeting hate groups, lumping legitimate conservative organizations together with actual extremists. Therefore its identification of Kessler’s left-wing roots is significant.
The SPLC notes:
Rumors abound on white nationalist forums that Kessler’s ideological pedigree before 2016 was less than pure and seem to point to involvement in the Occupy movement and past support for President Obama.
At one recent speech in favor of Charlottesville’s status as a sanctuary city, Kessler live-streamed himself as an attendee questioned him and apologized for an undisclosed spat during Kessler’s apparent involvement with Occupy. Kessler appeared visibly perturbed by the woman’s presence and reminders of their past association.
The report goes on to say that Kessler’s right-wing views only became public in November 2016, though he himself says his change from left-wing extremist to right-wing extremist began in 2013, when a PR executive made a racial joke about Aids on her way to Africa, and found when she landed that she had lost her job in the ensuing backlash.
In related news, reports emerged Monday that James Alex Fields, Jr., the 20-year-old who plowed his car into a left-wing counter-demonstration in Charlottesville, killing one and injuring several others, had been diagnosed with schizophrenia as a boy and had been given antipsychotic drugs. It is not clear if he is still taking them.
Occupy Wall Street was a radical left-wing movement that began in 2011 in Manhattan and spread throughout the globe. It was committed to the destruction of the capitalist system, and included violent and extremist elements that waged confrontations with police in the fall and winter of 2011-2. President Barack Obama, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Media Matters for America, and other Democrats nevertheless embraced the Occupy movement.