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Confessions of a Free Speech LawyerCharlottesville and the Politics of Hate$
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Rodney A. Smolla

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501749650

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501749650.001.0001

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A Call from the Task Force

A Call from the Task Force

(p.1) 1 A Call from the Task Force
Confessions of a Free Speech Lawyer

Rodney A. Smolla

Cornell University Press

This chapter introduces the task force created by Governor Terry McAuliffe in Richmond, Virginia that are tasked to study the racial violence in the city of Charlottesville during the summer of 2017. It mentions the violence in Richmond that claimed the life of Heather Heyer when a white supremacist, James Alex Fields Jr., slammed his speeding car into a crowd of counter-protesters confronting a “Unite the Right” rally. This chapter explains the work of the task force, which requires them to deeply investigate the constitutional protections of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly and the rules of engagement governing what society could or could not do when confronted with racial supremacist groups rallying in a city. It also describes the famous free speech case called Virginia vs. Black involving vicious racist hate speech. The case involved a cross-burning rally of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) in rural western Virginia in 1998 and a second cross-burning incident in Virginia Beach in the yard of an African American, James Jubilee.

Keywords:   Terry McAuliffe, racial violence, Charlottesville, Heather Heyer, white supremacist, James Alex Fields Jr, Unite the Right rally, freedom of speech, racist hate speech, freedom of assembly, cross-burning rally

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