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Richmond internet personality faces court hearing over political satire tweet

Chris Graham

jimmie lee jarvis andy ngoA Richmond internet personality who faces felony charges after posting a satirical tweet aimed at a far-right political provocateur will be in court on Wednesday.

A Henrico County judge will determine if there is enough evidence to proceed with the prosecution of Jimmie Lee Jarvis on felony bomb threat charges resulting from the Sept. 22 social-media post.

“The claims that his post in any way constitutes a threat against a place of assembly are unbelievable,” said Tom Barbour, the attorney for Jarvis, who spent a night in jail after posting a tweet with an image of actor Jason Schwartzman from the 1998 movie “Rushmore” carrying a large box labeled “DYNAMITE” to poke at far-right activist Andy Ngo.

That’s it. That was the tweet.

The reference here was to news reports that were making the rounds about a twice-canceled Richmond speaking event that was to feature Ngo.

As the story goes, the Commonwealth Club and the Richmond Westin Hotel both canceled on the organizers after being made aware of Ngo’s involvement in the far-right provocation industry.

Yes, it’s an industry: Ngo came to whatever level of fame you can say he has by filming political protests and sharing selectively edited videos that he claims show violence by far-left demonstrators online.

This kind of thing now qualifies one to be an influencer in this day and age.

People actually make a living doing that kind of thing.

God save us all.

Back to the legal issue for Jarvis: per Barbour, “(i)t could not be more obvious that this post was satirical and, therefore, constitutionally protected speech. Even so, there was no known venue for the event when the post was made.”

That last point from the lawyer would seem to be an important one from a legal perspective.

The event featuring Ngo would eventually be held at a third venue, a rec center in Henrico County, on Sept. 22, but according to a report from The Post Millennial, where Ngo serves as an editor-at-large, organizers had decided to only divulge the details of where it was being held to ticket holders, “to prevent Antifa activists from shutting it down.”

It would seem to be hard to charge someone with threatening an event when no one outside those organizing it or given the information about its location could know where it was being held.

“This is bigger than Mr. Jarvis, and it’s bigger than one tweet,” Barbour said. “At a time when local newsrooms are shrinking, and members of the press are facing unprecedented attacks on their profession, the last thing journalists need is to fear being locked up for constitutionally protected speech. This shameless disregard for civil rights should alarm all of us.”

Maybe a bit dramatic there from the attorney, but the point is well-taken.

It was a tweet poking at a guy who does the same thing for a living.

This seems to be a waste of the people’s time.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].