by Anne Jaclard, from news courtesy of National Lawyers Guild
Strange as it may seem to people outside the U.S., the latest struggle over racism here is over symbols—old statues of Confederate “heroes” that appear in public places throughout the South. (The Confederacy was the nation of states that tried to secede from the U.S. in order to preserve slavery, causing the Civil War of 1861-64.) While many cities and states have recently removed these statues, and some are re-naming Confederate-named streets, parks, etc. as well, they have been met with opposition from some white people, who claim their history and culture are being “erased” by the removal of the statues—even when the statues are not destroyed, but moved to museums.
The KKK (Ku Klux Klan, leading U.S. terrorist organization ever since the Civil War, attacked African Americans, Jews and Catholics) has been holding rallies to try to prevent Confederate statues from being removed. It staged a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on July 8. While a small number of Klansmen showed up, they came in full Klan regalia (the infamous white sheets) and shouted “white power.” Thousands of community members rallied against them, and the anti-Klan demonstrators were (predictably) met with chemical weapons, excessive force, and subjected to arrest. In total, 22 people were arrested. You can read more about the day’s events in this report.
Now on Aug. 12, white nationalists are calling for an even bigger “Unite the Right” rally supported by hate groups such as League of the South. Featured speakers include Richard Spencer and David Duke (who have friends in the Trump Administration) and others. The Alt-Right is calling for this to be the largest rally in its history.
Antifascists and others from across the region are planning to turn out to show support for local anti-racist organizers.
[Edited Sept. 9, 2017, to fix a typo.]