UPDATE: Federal judge sides with Kessler on emergency injunction

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A judge in Charlottesville has sided with alt-right blogger Jason Kessler on Saturday's Unite the Right rally.

This means the rally can take place in Emancipation Park as requested by Kessler.

He filed a lawsuit against the City of Charlottesville on Thursday, citing the decision to move his rally to McIntire Park violated his First Amendment rights.

A federal judge is considering whether to grant an injunction that would require Charlottesville to allow Jason Kessler to hold his "Unite the Right" rally on Saturday in Emancipation Park, as Kessler originally planned.

Earlier this week, city leaders announced that they would grant Kessler's permit to hold the rally, but only if he moved it to McIntire Park.

In court on Friday, Kessler's attorney, Victor Glasberg, argued that the city changed the permit location for Kessler's rally because city officials did not like Kessler's message.

As evidence for that, Glasberg pointed to a few tweets from Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer that criticized the alt-right and encouraged people to stand against it. But Charlottesville City Attorney Craig Brown said the city manager, Maurice Jones, made the decision to move the rally, not Signer.

Brown also argued that the city gave ample reason to move the rally for public safety reasons, and that the nature of Kessler's message had nothing to do with that decision.

Glasberg also criticized the city for trying to move Kessler's permit, but not doing the same for other groups with permits to rally downtown on Saturday.

Brown said the only other permit that was granted was to a group called Peoples Action for Racial Justice, or PARJ, and the city did not see the need to change that event's location because online posts showed that less than 100 people were signed up to attend the event.

PARJ is planning to hold events from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at McGuffey and Justice Parks with a mission "to demonstrate against the messages of racial intolerance and hatred advocated by white nationalist groups rallying under the banner Unite the Right," according to an online description of the event.

In court, there was also extensive discussion about whether the rally would actually be safer if done in McIntire Park instead of Emancipation Park. Brown argued that McIntire Park is safer because there is more space and it would be easier to keep Kessler's supporters separate from counter-protest groups.

Both sides conceded that there are expected to be more counter-protesters at the rally than Kessler supporters.

Attorneys representing downtown businesses also testified that they were concerned about property damage if the rally is allowed to stay in Emancipation Park.

To read the injunction documents, click on the links in the Related Documents box.

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