Jack Basile is a citizen journalist from the Lancaster County area in Pennsylvania. He is a 34 year old father of a young child, and a citizen journalist building an online platform called The Eye, which has yet to go public. Mr. Basile was in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12, 2017, witnessing some the events that day including the accident that took Heather Heyer’s life. The Democratic Road interviewed Jack by telephone on August 19, 2017. This is what we were told.
Mr. Basile has been following the activities of the certain Neo-Nazi and KKK groups based near the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area. He would like to publish his observations in upcoming essays on his not yet public blog. Last spring he was a guest in attendance for a KKK rally held at a private residence in Pennsylvania. One of the groups there called themselves the National Socialists Movement, and they can be found though any search engine inquiry. We will not link to their site. This group describes itself as,
“America’s premier White civil rights organization”
Jeff Schoep is the Commander of the National Socialist Movement. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center,
“Schoep was only 21 years old when he took control of the group in 1994, and his relatively young age has helped him attract a younger generation of Neo-Nazis.”
Basile was also present at a rally at Gettysburg National Park on July 1, 2017. The event, intended to correspond to the beginning of the battle on July 1, 1863, was expected to bring out counter protesters from ANTIFA. The Pennsylvania Oath Keepers put out a statement that,
“On July 1st, starting at 1200 hours, there will be a motorcade/motorcycle parade comprised of veterans and patriots from all across the state, Ohio, and other surrounding states, working together to protect the Battlefield from Antifa and related anarchists who seek to destroy and/or deface Civil War monuments at the Park and to burn American and Confederate Flags.”
It turned out that there were three permits issued for the event to organizations that honor the Confederate Flag. Also,
“Gettysburg College professor Scott Hancock was issued a permit and staged a counter-protest against the Confederate Flag by himself.”
Prior to the event, the Central PA ANTIFA in an email referring to the July 1, 2017 event said that,
“No antifa groups have planned a rally there that day.”
No ANTIFA related groups requested a permit and no ANTIFA related groups showed up. The event was peaceful with no disturbances reported, other than a 23 year old Pennsylvania man who accidentally shot himself in the thigh. President Obama did sign a Bill passed by Congress in 2009 allowing guns in National Parks.
The planned march to Unite The Right drew Jack Basile to Charlottesville, Virginia on the morning of August 12, 2017. Mr. Basile wanted to observe and report on the activities of any and all demonstrators who would attend. Jack, like so many of us, will not forget the events that transpired that day any time soon.
Basile’s first stop was Lee Park,101 East Market Street, the former name for Emancipation Park. Numerous protesters carrying signs, wearing backpacks, and many apparently dressed for a battle were photographed at the perimeter of the park.
Here is a photograph Jack took of a banner displayed by a demonstrator appearing to be affiliated with the Democratic Socialists of America.
Jack took this photograph of demonstrators displaying a banner of affiliated with the International Socialists and the Socialist Workers.
The Unite The Right demonstrators apparently had already left Emancipation Park before Mr. Basile arrived. Basile took photographs of people appearing to be aligned with other groups on the left collecting discarded Confederate and KKK flags and banners.
Those flags and banners were then set on fire.
It is important to note that the City of Charlottesville issued two permits for three demonstrations on August 12, 2017. One permit was issued for the Unite The Right march at Emancipation Park, and one permit was issued for demonstrations at McGuffey and Justice Parks to University of Virginia Professor, Walt Heinecke.
Jason Kessler is a former University of Virginia student who,
“Founded a far-right nonprofit called Unity & Security for America earlier this year to “protect the West” from “rampant immigration.” ,
Mr. Kessler was the lead organizer of the Unite the Right demonstration granted the permit to protest the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue from Emancipation Park in Charlottesville.
Professor Heinecke’s permit application was for,
“Public Demonstration Unity and Love Free Speech”
According to local news reports, Professor Heinecke was the organizer for Peoples Action For Racial Justice Charlottesville which issued a press release touting the event as one,
“To demonstrate against the messages of racial intolerance and hatred advocated by white nationalist groups rallying under the banner “Unite the Right” at Emancipation Park in Charlottesville on the same date from 12-5 PM.”
“The People’s Action for Racial Justice brought together all walks of life for a peaceful protest against all forms of white supremacy and racial intolerance.”
The location of the parks where the permitted demonstrations were to take place is significant. McGuffey Park is at 201 Second Street NW, a distance of Jackson Park, less than five hundred feet from Emancipation Park. Justice Park, formerly known as Jackson Park where a statue of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson can be found, is located at 405 East High Street. The distance from Justice Park to Emancipation Park is just about a quarter of a mile, dependent upon the exit used to leave the park. The distance from Justice Park to the intersection of Fourth Street, NE and East Water Street, where Heather Heyer was murdered, is less than one-tenth of a mile.
According to Mr. Basile, there were what he referred to as “scouts” who appeared to be observing and tracking the movements of the demonstrators on both sides. He described seeing a white pick-up truck circling the area containing six members of the Unite The Right group in the bed, as well as several cars driven by supporters of the President engaged in the same activity. He also observed two Motorcycle riders appearing to be acting as scouts groups were also seen. Jack spotted members from the leftist groups armed with long guns and walkie talkies on the perimeter of Emancipation Park, apparently acting as lookouts.
Jack followed the leftist groups as they left Emancipation Park. Here is a photograph he took of the demonstrators he was with.
Eventually Jack passed through the intersection of Fourth Street NE and East Market Street, one block south of the the intersection of Fourth Street NE and East Water Street where Heather Heyer was killed. Mr. Basile had crossed through the intersection taking this photograph just before seeing the vehicle barreling through the throng of demonstrators that Heather was among.
Jack saw numerous bodies flying through the air. Because of his nine years of experience as an Emergency Medical Technician, he rushed back to scene to help any injured victims. He found a young woman lying on the ground with an apparent femur fracture. He also found Heather Heyer underneath a seriously injured man. He saw that Heather had sustained a severe injury to the back of her head. Jack assisted as best he could, detecting no pulse, until he was forced to leave the scene by Charlottesville Police.
The police forced the crowd that numbered about 500 where Jack was to move along away from the crash site so that emergency vehicles could be brought ion and the injured assisted. This group joined up with another group of marchers also numbering about 500. It should be noted that the group that Jack was with must not have been affiliated with the permitted Professor Heinecke groups from either McGuffey or Justice Parks. Mr. Basile believes that the second group of marchers might have come from the permitted demonstrations at McGuffey or Justice Parks.
Mr. Basile did observe a single interaction between the Unite The Right affiliated demonstrators and the leftist demonstrators. On this occasion it appeared that the Unite The Right people were both the aggressors, and greatly outnumbered by the leftists. The Unite The Right people were also the recipients of the protection from the police who rushed in to shield them then removed them from the scene.
An unnamed high ranking source within a KKK organization told Jack that,
“If the left hadn’t been violent, nothing would have happened.”
When Jack asked if the driver of the car who murdered Heather Heyer was a member of any of his groups, the source said that the driver was,
“A sympathizer who was not affiliated with any of their groups.”
The events observed by Jack show that his source is wrong. The source agrees the car that killed Heather Heyer was driven by a 20 year old Ohio man with a history of support for the Neo-Nazi and White nationalist movements. The driver of that car was also photographed in Charlottesville earlier in the day marching with the group Vanguard America, an openly White supremacist group. Then there was the observation by Mr. Basile’s of a confrontation where the Unite The Right demonstrators were the initiators of violence. Charlottesville Police Chief, Al Thomas, Jr., did not blame the leftist groups for initiating any violence referring to the groups in a statement to the press as,
“Mutually combative…but did not specify who Thomas thought was ultimately responsible for initiating the violence.”
The Democratic Road thanks Jack Basile for allowing us to relate some of the events of this tragic day. Heather’s mother, Susan Bro, said at her daughter’s memorial service that,
“They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well guess what? You just magnified her.”
Many who sympathize with the Unite The Right demonstrators find the Heather Heyer’s death to be merely an inconvenient event. Those to the left will seek to join with Susan Bro and make her daughter’s short life’s work come to pass.