Is a Confederate flag and photo of Jason Kessler hanging in Virginia's Capitol?
The flag is one of four flags featured in the Virginia Capitol Visitor's Center. The photo of Jason Kessler was installed on August 24 and removed September 6 after complaints from residents.
Jennifer Lawhorne- Progress Virginia
Press Release from Susan Clarke Schaar and G. Paul Nardo, clerks of the General Assembly
Scott Elmquist- photographer for Style Weekly
Verify viewer Nancy Stoepker received an email from a group called Progress Virginia, claiming that a confederate flag and a photo of Jasson Kessler (organizer of the white supremacy rallies in Charlottesville and D.C.) are on display at the the Virginia Capitol Visitor's Center.
She asked us to Verify whether that claim was true.
To get our answers we asked House of Delegates clerk Paul Nardo and Senate clerk Susan Clarke Schaar. They confirm yes, both claims are true.
Since May 2007, four flags have stood in the Visitor's Center entrance: an early pattern U.S. flag, the second Confederate national flag, a current U.S. flag and a current Virginia flag. Each flag has at some point since 1788, flew over the State Capitol.
The Library of Virginia installed a temporary exhibit to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Virginia's Capitol Police.
One of the photos used, showed Jason Kessler attending a Corey Stewart rally to end sanctuary cities.
The exhibit curator and Capitol Police did not recognize Kessler before it was installed, Schaar and Nardo said.
"Yesterday, it was brought to the attention of the Division of Capitol Police and the Library of Virginia who helped coordinate and curate the exhibition as well as to leaders in the General Assembly that one individual among that group in the photo was identified as a white supremacist after the exhibit was installed and unbeknownst to the organizers," the press release said. "Once that fact became known, the picture and panel on which it was displayed were removed within 24 hours."
Our researchers tracked down the photographer, Scott Elmquist for Style Weekly, who took the photo five months before Charlottesville.
Elmquist told our researchers he was not consulted before the photo was installed in the exhibit and has no idea how Capitol Police found his photo.
Elmquist said at the time he took the photo, he did not know Kessler was a white supremacy organizer, and Kessler was not identified in the Style Weekly picture's caption.
Jennifer Lawhorne of Progress Virginia led the charge to get state Capitol to remove the photo of Kessler. The photo was removed within 48 hours.
Lawhorne would like to see the Confederate flag go, too. The General Assembly has no plan to remove the flag.