Charlottesville joins lawsuit to prevent unauthorized paramilitary groups from returning

A view of the Charlottesville City Hall (Google Maps)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WSET) - The City of Charlottesville voted to become a plaintiff in a lawsuit concerning the violent Unite the Right rally on August 12.

The City Council held a special meeting Thursday morning where an attorney presented the results of the extensive investigation into the violence.

The investigation revealed the alt-right groups spent time planning the militaristic violence, according to Mary McCord, senior litigator for ICAP.

"Theirs was a strategy to provoke and invoke. Provoke the counter protesters, then invoke in self defense as an excuse to inflict long planned violence," McCord said.

(WARNING: The video below contains profanity and violence from the August 12 rally. Viewer discretion is advised.)

McCord says the lawsuit to not intend to reduce the Second Amendment right for someone to arm themselves for self defense.

She says instead, it seeks to protect the First Amendment right to peacefully protest.

McCord says the hope is to prevent another "military style invasion."

The lawsuit is not for monetary damages, but seeks a court order "prohibiting militia and para-military type activity."

"When this happened, I think a lot of people felt in their gut that this could not have been what the framers of the Constitution intended when they were talking about First and Second Amendment rights," a council member said, referring to the "armed intimidation" that happened during the rally.

The council voted 4-0 to join the suit.

"The laws regulating civilian militias were put in place by our forebears for a crucial purpose," Mary Signer said. "What Charlottesville saw the weekend of August 12 were armed organizations parading their violence in public and attacking citizens. Such blatant assault on democratic government itself may be integral to today's 'alt-right' movement, but it cannot be allowed to continue."

Several Charlottesville businesses are also plaintiffs on the lawsuit.

This is a developing story, stay with ABC 13 for updates.

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