Thousands of people came to Justice Park today to confront the Klan in an act of community defense. The people of Charlottesville showed the vibrancy of our collective energy to resist intimidation and initiate change. Charlottesville is mobilizing to affirm that Black Lives Matter.
A multiracial group of people worked together to protect the park from the Klan’s entry. The group effectively delayed the Klan’s entry until the time on their permit was nearly over. People chanted “Black Lives Matter,” “No cops, no KKK, no racist USA,” and “No justice, no peace,” among other calls for racial justice. In response, police brutally removed protestors who were standing at the entrance intended for the Klan. As police chaperoned the Klan into the park, protesters confronted the Klan with chants of “shame” and “racists go home.” One of the Klansmen made a Nazi salute. The police protected the Klan’s presence in the park far beyond the time allotted on the permit.
Police provided the Klan safe passage out of the park, while a community member called to the police, “Do your job, and protect us.” Today and every day, the police were there to protect white supremacy.
After the Klan left the park, community members continued to protest – not just the Klan presence, but also the actions of the cops. Police continued to respond with intimidation and violence. The police set off chemical bombs, in the immediate vicinity of activists already being treated for injuries that meant they could not clear the area. They were sitting on the grass, not in the street. This is yet another example of Charlottesville police targeting anti-racist activists.
People faced the police shouting “Find Sage Smith” and “Where is Sage Smith?” One person said, “This looks like a great search party for Sage Smith,” telling the police to invest resources in expanding the investigation of Sage Smith’s disappearance, and to divest from the militarized violence seen today.
The police response to the people of Charlottesville highlights the racism inherent in our systems of criminalization and the urgency of meeting the nine demands presented today. These demands are:
Revoke the permit for the August 12 “Unite the Right March on Charlottesville” and grant a permit for the Carnival de Resistance.
Remove the Lee and Jackson statues, now.
Fulfill the “Positive Vision of Resident Directed Redevelopment” from the Charlottesville Public Housing Association of Residents.
Drop the charges against Veronica Fitzhugh.
Apologize publicly for negligence in Sage Smith’s disappearance, and commit to an expansion of the investigation.
Cease the targeting of Black families by social services to send children into foster care.
End JADE (Jefferson Area Drug Enforcement militarized police unit).
End money bail, and release people being held without bond before their trial.
Stop discriminatory stop-and-frisk.
Local activists assert that the August 12 “Unite the Right March on Charlottesville” must also be confronted and disavowed as a matter of racial justice and public safety. These newer white supremacist groups are no different from the KKK, and present an amplified threat of violence. Activists ask Charlottesville leadership to take seriously the threat of racist terrorism and the rise of white nationalism.
We make these demands in solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives.
Black Lives Matter Charlottesville chapter gives the following statement:
Thank you to the Black Lives Matter allies who showed up, shared space, and put their bodies on the line. However, this is only part of the work. We will need continued focus and labor dismantling the web of white supremacy that is this colonial settler state. Let us not just be reactive. We ask all allies to join us in dreaming, planning, and the labor of daily destroying white supremacy, colonialism, capitalism, and all their iterations. This work is concurrently a tearing down and a building up. Please enter into this work with us. Through discomfort, pain, joy, laughter, tears, and love. We hope you will show up at the August 12 “Unite the Right March on Charlottesville” in numbers and fervor that rival what we saw today.