Let's Talk About Charlottesville, Again
What's there to say?
A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece reporting a South Carolina chapter of the Ku Klux Klan’s arising in Charlottesville, Virginia. You can find that piece here. Since this seemingly unsuccessful coming out in early July, the domestic terrorist group has reorganized. Friday night, the University of Virginia’s campus was flooded with tiki torch-toting white people for the beginning of the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville. Jason Kessler, lead organizer for the weekend’s gathering, claimed that the event was an “incredible moment for white people who've had it up to here and aren't going to take it anymore.”
They snaked their way through campus and came face-to-face with counter-protesters at the campus’ statue of its founder, Thomas Jefferson. These people —mostly white men fighting for their superiority as if it were their life— ranged from millennials to baby boomers and beyond; from college students to city officials; from conservative to all the way off the right wing. Friday night’s rally turned to violence and ended with one arrest.
The “official” event of the weekend took place on Saturday. Originally a protest to oppose the dismantling of a Robert E. Lee statue in what's known as “Emancipation Park,” Klan members, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists/nationalists alike used the gathering to brawl with what stood in their way: the revolution. The right wing came donned in armor and combat gear, wielding sticks, shields, and scorn. The protest was slated for noon, but by 11:55 a.m. EDT, violence had broken out in the streets and Charlottesville had entered a state of emergency.
The violence hit its peak by 2 p.m.
James Alex Fields, Jr., a 20-year-old man who had traveled from Ohio for the weekend’s events, drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters blocking a street in Charlottesville. With this attack, Fields became responsible for the death of Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old native of Charlottesville, and the injuries of at least 20 others. Sunday morning he was taken into custody with his bond hearing being set for Monday the 14th.
This is what transpired in Charlottesville this weekend… in a nutshell, at least. I find myself taxed af trying to keep tabs on everything going on in our country and abroad, and Shit —capital ‘S’— is crazy. In the midst of all of it —climate change, healthcare, North Korea, Russia, Venezuela, and now this— what's one to do?
I don't bother asking things like “Where were the police?” anymore. We know what side they're on. I watched clips of the president “condemning” the bigotry “on many sides” of the protest. As he did this with the body language of a child half-heartedly apologizing for the fun, little mess he made, I was surprised to even hear the words come from his mouth. However, through his futile condemnation and subliminal catering to white supremacy, I was reminded that it was he who let this monster back out of its cage.
I didn't expect 45’s presidency to bring about this much hate, at least not this early. I didn't expect the push for a better, more inclusive America to face this much opposition. I didn't expect this much force behind the evil.
As we take steps forward (forward, into the past it seems), we, as a people fighting for equality, justice, and change, are up against way more than expected. So much more that sometimes I can't find the words to say anything about it.
Is the time up for talking?