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As white nationalist organizers and counter-protesters get ready for Unite the Right 2 rallies this weekend, the court battles from last year's violent rally in Charlottesville, Va., still are not settled. A federal judge just ruled that a woman accused of planning violence at that rally cannot keep her identity hidden from the courts. NPR's Camila Domonoske reports.
CAMILA DOMONOSKE, BYLINE: Discord is an app that makes it easy to chat anonymously. It was designed for gamers. But last summer, lawyers and activists say it was also used by white supremacists and other members of the so-called "alt-right" to plan the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. One counter-protester died at that rally, and others were wounded. Some of the people who were hurt are suing the rally's organizers, and they're very interested in what went down in those Discord conversations. But so far, they've only been able to see some of the chats which were leaked. Roberta Kaplan is one of the lawyers bringing that lawsuit.
ROBERTA KAPLAN: We have now gone directly to Discord to say we want the complete picture.
DOMONOSKE: That is, they want all the secret chats about planning for the rally and the identities of the planners. A woman went to court to try to stop the release of those Discord records. She's not being sued in the case, but she was involved in those planning conversations. She's called Jane Doe in the court documents. But on Discord, she went by kristall.night. Kristallnacht of course was the infamous night of Nazi attacks on Jews in 1938. Kaplan says that kristall.night used the app to give advice to Unite the Right protesters.
KAPLAN: She told people - I'll give you an example - don't bring weapons you're inexperienced with using in a fight in a crowded area. Do bring a tourniquet, shields if you have them, a helmet.
DOMONOSKE: In her court case, kristall.night said she has a First Amendment right to anonymity. She also worried her identity might be revealed publicly, resulting in harassment. But the judge said her First Amendment rights are not absolute and that in a case of alleged violent conspiracy, public interest outweighs the harm to her rights.
The judge said that her identity should only be shared with the lawyers in the case. Jane Doe's lawyer has previously argued that a court order protecting her identity is insufficient because the lawyers involved might leak her name anyway. Kaplan says her goal was never to reveal kristall.night's true name, that she's investigating a conspiracy, not one woman's identity. Camila Domonoske, NPR News.
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