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Neo-Nazi leader put in the hot seat during tense testimony
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Neo-Nazi leader put in the hot seat during tense testimony

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Matthew Parrott

Matthew Parrott, a co-founder and leader of the Traditionalist Worker Party, testified in court on Tuesday.

Traditionalist Worker Party co-founder Matthew Parrott clashed with plaintiffs’ counsel as they attempted to impeach him over inconsistent testimony, emphasizing that he did not hate people who are Jewish but that he “hated the organized Jewish community.”

The Traditionalist Worker Party, or TWP, has been a particular focus of the case so far as the plaintiffs have called upon various communications evidence from the group’s members. Unlike TWP co-founder and fellow defendant Matthew Heimbach, Parrott was more careful when asked about his anti-Semitic views, attempting to offset the neo-Nazi group’s reputation.

When asked if he hated Jewish people, Parrott denied that and claimed he hated “the organized Jewish community.” Similarly, Parrott denied hating Black people and characterized a post in which he compared Black people to dogs as an effort to spread racial tolerance to TWP members.

  • “I don’t hate dogs for being stupid. Most of the hatred of ns is rooted in trying to pretend that something they’re not,” Parrott wrote in a Discord conversation prior to the 2017 rally.

“Within this context where the people above me were arguing for hating people for being less intelligent, I was arguing that it’s not proper to hate people for being less intelligent,” Parrott said, defending his speech.

As the Sines v. Kessler trial stretches into its third week in Charlottesville’s federal courthouse, the plaintiffs have yet to rest their case and are still calling witnesses in an effort to prove to a jury that more than a dozen organizers and key participants of the deadly Unite the Right rally conspired to come to Charlottesville in 2017 and commit acts of racist violence.

Plaintiffs’ counsel Michael Bloch and Parrott clashed often during Tuesday’s testimony as Bloch repeatedly showed the defendant testimony from a 2020 deposition that he argued conflicted with Parrott’s testimony Tuesday. Judge Norman K. Moon has repeatedly expressed frustration with this type of examination which he has implied is dragging out the trial.

Bloch and Parrott bickered over a question regarding TWP fundraising, in which Bloch said that Parrott’s deposition answer indicated that the group used violent protests as an opportunity to raise funds.

“In the deposition as now, I concede to the fact that any time we were on the news it was technically a fundraising event,” Parrott said. “You deliberately misrepresented it here as that was the goal was to fundraise off violence, which was never my intended statement.”

Parrott joined a growing list of defendants with dramatic and lengthy excuses related to their failure to provide discovery materials. Parrott and Heimbach’s excuses were interwoven by a complex family drama that involved the defendants sharing a now-former lover whom Heimbach has accused of destroying his phone. Parrott, upset by his now-ex wife shacking up with Heimbach claimed he deleted all texts between himself and Heimbach during a quarrel.

A “definitive list” of Unite the Right TWP attendees was also lost, Parrott said, blaming the “de-platforming” of TWP by MailChimp following the rally. Parrott would go on to bemoan other de-platforming efforts, which he said made fundraising nearly impossible for groups associated with the alt-right.

This did not stop Parrott from donating $14.88 to co-defendant Chris Cantwell criminal defense fund following the rally. Parrott said the figure was a reference to a far-right meme referencing the white supremacist “14 words” ideology and Heil Hitler, which both start with the eighth letter of the alphabet.

“It was a lighthearted joking way to let him know that he has allies on his side,” Parrott said.

Parrott’s testimony also continued a trend of the defendants attempting to distance themselves from each other and particularly from James Alex Fields Jr. and key organizer Jason Kessler. Despite this attempt, Parrott joined the growing list of defendants to be presented with evidence of him defending Fields in the wake of his vehicular attack which left dozens injured—including multiple plaintiffs—and Heather Heyer dead.

In the weeks leading up to the Unite the Right rally, Parrott said that he became aware of a growing distrust of Kessler among rally participants. This led to TWP and the League of the South forming their own plans for the rally, Parrott said, which included entering the site of the rally from a different location.

“We tried to keep it under wraps because we didn’t feel it was good, but we did not like Mr. Kessler’s decision-making and we did not like the planning and coordinating decisions that he was making,” Parrott said during cross-examination. “We felt like we were smarter than him and we were going to do it our own way.”

Though Parrott’s testimony took up the majority of Tuesday’s hearing, the jury also heard testimony from plaintiff and car attack survivor Chelsea Alvarado. Largely unaware of the potential for violence that day, Alvarado said she joined her friend and fellow plaintiff Natalie Romero in counter-protesting.

Holding a drum which she had been loaned by a fellow counter-protester, Alvarado was among the crowd hit by Fields. An image of that drum sitting in a pool of blood following the attack has already been referenced at several points during the trial.

“I had the drum on my right side and I presume based off of how I saw the drum after that, the car hit my drum first and then the force of that threw me to the side,” Alvarado said, describing her injuries.

Alvarado suffered contusions and bruises on her legs and knees, as well as scrapes and cuts all over her arms and legs. However, the longest lasting injury was a severe concussion which Alvarado said still gives her headaches to this day.

The bulk of the defendants or their attorneys declined to cross-examine Alvarado, with Cantwell breaking from the pack to again force a car attack survivor to watch footage of the incident. As with the previous witnesses who survived the car attack, Alvarado told Cantwell that she did not know the various people he pointed to in the video that were wearing bandanas, helmets or goggles.

The Sines v. Kessler trial resumed at 9 a.m. on Wednesday.

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