December 12, 2017

Anti-Racist Community Members Show Up to Racist Leader’s Court Date

Local anti-racists outside the courthouse on July 19. Photo: Louisville ARA

Matthew Heimbach was hit with a summons while holding a rally in Pikeville, KY for assaulting a Black woman at a Trump rally in Louisville, KY. He showed up in court this week to plead guilty – and he had a welcoming committee.

LADY ELAINE

Matthew Heimbach, 26, of Paoli, Indiana appeared at the Hall of Justice in Louisville KY on July 19 to face misdemeanor assault charges. Heimbach, chairman of the white supremacist Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP), was charged in Jefferson District Court relating to the incident where he screamed and yelled at a young African-American woman and pushed her repeatedly to make her leave the Kentucky International Convention Center where the Donald Trump rally took place on March 1, 2016.

Instead of allowing his own security, the Secret Service, or KICC security to remove protesters, now President Trump stopped his half-hour speech five different times to point out protestors and, in most cases, to instruct his large crowd of supporters to “get ‘em out of here!”. Heimbach stepped to Trump’s call and says he felt ‘deputized’ to help provide security.

Matthew Heimbach arriving at his arraignment on June 14, 2017, where he pled not guilty to misdemeanor assault charges. Photo: Matt Stone/The C-J

In his interview on arraignment day in a Louisville, reporter Matt Stone of the Courier-Journal asked Heimbach outside the courthouse ‘Any regrets on things you would have done differently?’ to which Heimbach answered ‘When it comes to the conduct of that day, no regrets.’

Heimbach acknowledged in a blog post that he had “help[ed] the crowd drive out one of the women” who were protesting and videos recorded at the rally captured his actions.

The woman who was assaulted pressed charges and Heimbach was served with the criminal summons by the Pikeville Police Department on April 29 at the white supremacist rally he organized in Pike County, Kentucky. In attendance were about 50 members of white supremacist groups to include the TWP, National Socialist Movement the Nationalist Front, and 25 members of militia style groups to include Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, who are known to protect and stand in solidarity with racist groups. There were also around 100 local community members and regional like-minded anti-racists who showed up with the tactic of directly confronting the hatred espoused by Heimbach and fascist sympathizers.

At his arraignment on June 14, Heimbach plead not guilty to misdemeanor assault.

On Wednesday July 19, Heimbach appeared at the Hall of Justice for his court hearing. He was met with the presence of 50 community members lining the sidewalks outside of the courthouse. The direct confrontation was organized by Louisville Anti-Racist Action (ARA), who’s tactic was to meet the racist leader with silence on the street and follow him into the courtroom. The goal was to attend the hearing in support of the woman who was assaulted. They stood silently as Heimbach walked past with his public defender and entered the courthouse.

“The purpose of this action was twofold”, writes Louisville ARA, “to show Matthew Heimbach and other racist organizers that they will be opposed in this city at every turn, that their violent white nationalist movement is not welcome here now or ever; and to be there to support and protect the woman of color who was attacked by Heimbach at the rally. A woman who has continued to receive death threats from Heimbach’s alt-right supporters nonstop since her attack.”

“We as Louisville Anti-Racist Action refuse to stand idly by while white supremacists organize in our community. We are here to help build, defend, educate and create an effective culture of resistance to fascism.”

Heimbach’s attorney attempted to have the 50 local anti-racists thrown out of court for “criminal intimidation”, a request that Jefferson County District Judge Stephanie Pearce Burke denied from the bench. The crowd sat in waiting for 4 hours until Heimbach’s case was heard.

The Plaintiff’s attorney argued that Heimbach should serve time in jail for assaulting his client during a political rally.

Heimbach entered an Alford plea, which enables him to maintain innocence while acknowledging that there is sufficient evidence to convince a jury he’s guilty of second-degree disorderly conduct.

Matthew Heimbach leaves court on July 19, where he entered an Alford plea. Photo: Louisville ARA
Matthew Heimbach leaves court on July 19, where he entered an Alford plea. Photo: Louisville ARA

Charges of misdemeanor assault were amended to a charge of disorderly conduct. Judge Burke waived a 90-day sentence on the condition that he not re-offend within two years. He was fined $145, ordered to attend anger management classes and to have no contact with the woman he assaulted, resolving the charges against him.

The Federal Lawsuit 

Matthew Heimbach also faces a federal lawsuit for his actions at the Donald Trump rally in Louisville Kentucky on March 1, 2016. The lawsuit names now President Trump, his campaign, and two other Trump supporters as defendants. The nature of the suit is Assault, Libel, and Slander.

In this federal court case, Heimbach filed a motion to strike, asking the court to dismiss the lawsuit’s discussion of his chairmanship of the TWP, which describes itself as “fighting to secure the existence of our people and a future for white children,” as well as statements Heimbach made about how Trump could advance the group’s interests.

On March 31, Judge David J. Hale entered a Memorandum Opinion and Order denying Heimbach’s motion to strike. Deciding that such information could be important when determining punitive damages, Judge Hale wrote:

 “The Court also declines to strike the paragraphs discussing Heimbach’s association with a white nationalist group and statements Heimbach has made about how Trump may further the interests of that group. (See D.N. 1-1 ¶¶ 4-8, 54, 67, 72) These paragraphs provide context for the alleged attacks [on plaintiff] and the other plaintiffs by illustrating Heimbach’s antipathy toward non-whites and persons who oppose Trump.

Nor does the Court find Paragraphs 40 and 41—which describe racial, ethnic, and sexist slurs [plaintiff] allegedly heard at the rally—to be impertinent, immaterial, or scandalous, as Heimbach contends. While the words themselves are repulsive, they are relevant to show the atmosphere in which the alleged events occurred.”

The matter was referred to Magistrate Judge H. Brent Brennenstuhl for resolution of all litigation planning issues, entry of scheduling orders, consideration of amendments thereto, and resolution of all nondispositive matters, including discovery issues. Judge Brennenstuhl is further authorized to conduct one or more settlement conferences in this matter.

Heimbach filed a cross claim against President Trump, seeking to pass the liability to him, because he “inspired” him to engage in violence and he relied on Trump’s “expertise” in committing the violence.

As of this writing, the last activity on Heimbach’s federal case was on June 26, when President Trump’s attorneys sent a letter to the Judge pleading with him to move faster in deciding if the active President can be deposed on such a “novel issue”.

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