There have been people in Charlottesville resisting White Supremacy since it was founded by rapist and enslaver Thomas Jefferson, and since before then, since the widespread genocide of the Powhatan, Monacan, Cherokee, Saponi, and other indigenous peoples whose land was stolen and colonized by White people. The White Supremacist Nazi Klan rally with Richard Spencer, Matthew Heimbach, Nathan Damigo, and other known White Supremacists in Charlottesville on Saturday May 13, 2017, grew out of that history. This group made very clear, not just at that Klan rally but all the times they have terrorized our community, that they are trying to take over. We must not let them. The Anarchist People of Color Collective in Charlottesville organized a vigil to provide an immediate response the next day. Speakers called on the community to see, name, and fight back against White Supremacy in all its forms. Since then, informal groups of Charlottesville residents have been calling out these White Supremacist Klan-copying Nazis who terrorize People of Color. Their actions provide a blueprint for how to continuously and emphatically refuse to tolerate the violent presence of White Supremacists in our city. Here are the steps we can take.
1. Know your Nazis.
Know their names and their faces. Do the research ahead of time so that you can respond in the moment when you see them. Take pictures of them and the other people they are with, so we all know. Tell your people who they are, and why it matters.
2. Say NO to Nazis.
Refuse to employ, work with, serve, or shop with Nazis. Refuse to sit next to them at a bar or restaurant. Refuse to let them sit peacefully in public space. Social isolation for bad behavior is legitimate; it is an effective tool for removing their social license to operate. On Saturday, May 21, a pink-haired Black person with a multiracial coalition of supporters confronted Jason Kessler and three other known White Supremacists on the downtown mall – after they had been kicked out of three bars in a row. Jason Kessler has been convicted of assault and released on a 30 day suspended sentence; and the Charlottesville police saw him assault a woman of color after the resistance vigil, arrested him, released him, and did not charge him with that assault. As written by a community member: “Because [they] have threatened violence and have assaulted people, they should not be allowed to move unknown and un-monitored through our public spaces.”
3. Love each other and protect each other.
One of the resistance vigil speakers led Assata Shakur’s prayer, chanting: “It is our duty to fight. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and protect each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.” Give love to the people most targeted by this terror. When a Muslim woman was harassed in Kroger, the manager apologized to her then confronted the perpetrator, and a fellow customer asked her if she was okay then stayed with her until she finished shopping. Do that. Confront the racist terrorizer, and care for the person being terrorized. Get pictures of the aggressors and film the interaction for safety purposes. Also, by the way, that same Kroger is known for profiling Black people. We must fight that too. This fight is life or death for the people targeted, particularly for Black and indigenous people and other People of Color. On Saturday, May 20th, the same day that people in Charlottesville got the group of White Supremacists to leave the downtown mall, another White Supremacist MURDERED Richard Collins III, a 23 year old Black man in Maryland. This is lynching. We are worried about the lives of people threatened by Nazis who have felt emboldened enough by the lackadaisical response to racism that they can count on from most White folks in Charlottesville that they came in droves to hold a recruiting rally and then a torch burning. Are we going to wait for a Black person to be murdered here by White Supremacists before we get serious? We’re asking people to care about the real life threat that White Supremacists pose to marginalized communities and to do whatever it takes to love and protect them.
4. Build your networks of resistance.
Talk to your friends and neighbors about these Nazis, their violence, their threats, the terror, and what you would do if you saw them. Do not do nothing – choosing not to act is an action in itself, and doing nothing is violence. Figure out your chosen methods of resistance. Find the place where you love so deeply that you are furious, and then be creative with your anger. Make a plan with your people about the best way to contact each other if you need help. If you don’t have those people in your life, do the work to get your people to that place. And as you start doing the work, you will find others who have been doing the work, too.
5. Cheer on others who are resisting.
Criticizing people who fight Nazis is a weird hobby. Do not criticize people who are resisting and fighting back and expressing themselves. Do not shame others for taking on tactics they deem necessary. Do not allow for false equivalencies of violence on both sides. White Supremacy is a legacy of racialized violence, terror, and abuse. If the actions of resistance that you see make you uncomfortable, hold that discomfort until it shifts into respect and gratitude. White people showing up to resistance actions need to trust the leadership of People of Color and follow their directions. Center the words, actions, and labor of People of Color in your resistance narratives. It’s not about you. Your selfie at the vigil makes it a white narrative. Focus the story on what People of Color on the front lines are doing and saying, and join them.
6. KEEP GOING. Get involved in the broader fight against White Supremacy.
Speakers at the resistance vigil emphasized that White Supremacy manifests itself every day in Charlottesville, in all our social systems and in numerous social interactions. Non-black Virginians need to recognize that Charlottesville and the University of Virginia were built by enslaved Black laborers, and that systemic violence lives on today in our state’s prisons. Katrina Turner testified to City Council that her Black male child was brutalized by Charlottesville police. Sage Smith, a Black trans woman, has been missing from her home in Charlottesville since November 2012, and the Charlottesville Police Department has continuously failed to prioritize Sage’s case. We support the Movement for Black Lives demands to disarm the police, divest from prisons, and ensure safe and clean housing for Black communities. We ask that the people in Charlottesville waking up to the horrors of White Supremacy mobilize in support of these demands as well. Meet people, listen, offer help, do what you are asked, care about people with everything you have. We cannot continue business as usual.
Do NOT silence the presence of Nazis in Charlottesville. White silence is racist violence. Whatever you think will work to stop the Nazis, do that. And, at the same time, love and protect People of Color, and respond to the resistance led by People of Color. Take a risk, mess up, learn, and do better. Build relationships and networks of love and trust and care. Black Lives Matter. Fuck White Supremacy. Remove the Statue. Nazis Go Home.