As police ushered him to safety, one man took a swing at him.Now, Godfrey said, “I’m looking for anybody, the first sight they see of him going to that house, I wonder if something’s going to happen.”According to friends who are in contact with him, Kessler has been in hiding since the rally.Neighbors would walk past with their dogs, waving hello, as they headed to a nearby park. People are more alert.” August 12th was the day of an alt-right rally called “Unite the Right,” which devolved into violence as thousands of white supremacists and counter-protesters swarmed through the city’s downtown streets.These days, Godfrey mostly stays inside in the afternoons. The unrest made international headlines and left a thirty-two-year-old counter-protester named Heather Heyer dead, with dozens more injured.Lawson, who is forty-nine, lives in a six-hundred-square-foot house behind the building where Kessler rents his apartment.A twenty-foot patch of dirt and grass is the only thing that separates his home from Kessler’s.“True, he’s in hiding, but you never know what’s going to happen,” Godfrey said.
Several of his immediate neighbors also said that a young black man with a foreign accent they could not place was living with Kessler for an extended period of time.For Godfrey, who is black, the day’s chaos hasn’t ended, and it hits close to home—the rally’s organizer, Jason Kessler, a thirty-three-year-old self-proclaimed “white advocate,” lives three houses up the street.“I’d see him go by, walk down the street, he would wave to me, ‘Hey, how you doing? “I got a bad feeling, like, no, he’s not somebody I really want to associate myself with.”The day after the violence, Kessler tried to give a press conference downtown, but a booing crowd of locals drowned him out.Lawson came outside, pumping his arms as if he were about to step into a boxing ring. Fifty years ago, the residents of Belmont were nearly all working-class white people.He asked the man (who declined to be named for this story) whether he believed in the things Kessler did. “There were no blacks even allowed on this side of town,” Godfrey, who lived with her family in another primarily white neighborhood just beyond Belmont, known as Hogwaller, said.