A panel hosted by the University of Virginia School of Law will explore a successful civil lawsuit against organizers, promoters and participants in the 2017 Unite the Right rally.
“Inside Sines v. Kessler: A Case Holding White Supremacists Accountable” will be held Jan. 25 at 5 p.m. online (Register). The event, part of the University’s 2022 Community MLK Commemoration, is sponsored by the Law School’s Center for the Study of Race and Law, UVA’s Office of African American Affairs, and UVA’s Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights.
At the conclusion of the litigation Nov. 23, a jury found the defendants liable under Virginia law, for both civil conspiracy and racial, religious and ethnic harassment. The result was an award of more than $25 million for the nine plaintiffs.
The panelists are plaintiffs Marissa K. Blair, Elizabeth Sines ’19 and Devin Willis; co-lead plaintiffs’ attorney Roberta Kaplan, a partner at Kaplan, Hecker & Fink; co-lead plaintiffs’ attorney Karen L. Dunn, a partner at Paul Weiss; and Deborah Lipstadt, an Emory University history professor who gave expert testimony on antisemitism at the trial. Professor Kim Forde-Mazrui, the center’s director, will moderate the panel.
“The panelists will explore what happened in the case and why it is a wake-up call to the white power movement,” Kim Forde-Mazrui said. “The First Amendment only protects hateful expression so far. When your hate includes planned violence, the law can — and will — hold you accountable.”
Forde-Mazrui recommended that attendees watch the documentary “Charlottesville,” produced by UVA’s Center for Politics and the Community Idea Stations in the wake of August 2017, before the panel.
Additionally, the Gregory H. Swanson Award, named in honor of UVA and the Law School’s first Black student, will be presented. The award recognizes students who demonstrate courage, perseverance and a commitment to justice within the community.
Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.