Understanding this weekend.
Over the weekend, I was glued to the screen to my phone, watching the events violently unfold in Charlottesville, Virginia and trying to understand both what’s happening in real time and the context for it all. It’s difficult for so many reasons to really keep up and understand what’s been going on but here’s a brief timeline of what happened on Friday and Saturday in Charlottesville.
On Friday night, a large congregation of white supremacists/nationalists took to the University of Virginia, most of whom were carrying light tiki touches. Photos of the event, like the one above, show that it was strikingly similar to KKK marches both in imagery and in actual tone, as the group was shouting things like “you shall not replace us” and “white lives matter”. The ‘protest’ was in response to the attempts to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in a Charlottesville park and rename the park. That march eventually ended at the campus’ statue of Thomas Jefferson, where there were counter protesters and eventually some violence erupted.
Then on Saturday, there was another planned protest called ‘Unite the Right’ at the park that’s been at the center of all this and many white nationalists/supremacists and actual nazis showed up. There were also a bunch of counter protesters, including numerous faith leaders. Cornel West was even there and walked with the counter protestors and faith leaders.
At around 11:30am on Saturday, the ‘rally’ was officially declared an unlawful assembly by local law enforcement (who, as far as I can tell from folks at the counter protest, seem to vanish during critical parts of the day). 20 minutes after that announcement, the Virginia Governor declares a state of emergency because of what was happening at the park. As a point of context, all of these announcements happen before the ‘rally’ was even supposed to start, as folks started to arrive at the park hours before. An ABC news station in Virginia has a brief timeline of events leading up to Sunday morning.
On Saturday afternoon, a car plowed into a group of counter protesters who were attempting to leave the area. It’s being reported that the man accused of driving that car has long sympathized with Nazi views and had been at the Unite the Right ‘rally’ with other white supremacists just hours before. That car crash, of which there are photos and videos that I won’t be linking to, killed one woman and injured 19 others. The man behind the wheel has been arrested and is being charged with murder.
- Virginia leaders rally at black church after hate-filled event turns deadly – Holly Yan, Nicole Chavez, and Devon M. Sayers, CNN
All of this is just a brief timeline of what’s been happening over the past few days. There have many conversations and articles about what this all means in a larger context and what we, especially we as white Americans, need to be doing next. For more, here are some things to read, digest, and use to move forwards towards racial justice and equity.
- Charlottesville Was Not a “Protest Turned Violent,” It Was a Planned Race Riot – Zenobia Jefferies, Yes! Magazine
- Maybe now isn’t the time, guys – Danielle C. Belton, The Root
- Charlottesville Is the America That Donald Trump Promised – Jay Willis, GQ
- “Why we voted for Donald Trump”: David Duke explains the white supremacist Charlottesville protests – Libby Nelson, Vox
- The KKK Rally In Charlottesville Proves Why #NoConfederate Is Needed – Jagger Blaec, The Establishment
- White People: I Don’t Want You To Understand Me Better, I Want You To Understand Yourselves – Ijeoma Oluo, The Establishment
- Mother Of Charlottesville Victim Heather Heyer: ‘I’m Proud Of What She Did’ – Andy Campbell, Huffington Post
- Charlottesville and the Bigotocracy – Michael Eric Dyson, New York Times
Last but not least, I just want to say from the bottom of my heart: fuck white supremacy. Fuck the alt-right and all the nazis. Fuck David Duke and the KKK. And as YG and Nipsey Hussle say in their 2016 song, fuck Donald Trump.