CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA—In the blistering afternoon heat of Justice Park, a member of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan yelled “white power!” and threw up Nazi-esque salutes as he waltzed around in the public space hoisting a Confederate battle flag
He and about 30 to 50 other members of the group, headquartered in Pelham, North Carolina, had journeyed to the sunlit, cobblestoned city of Charlottesville on Saturday to protest the city council’s decision to remove the statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee located in the neighboring Emancipation Park. They were escorted into the park by a horde of police officers, some in riot gear, who formed a pathway for them to walk (robes and all) through a mass of people there to counter-protest the Klan’s event.
Once the Klansmen made it into the park, about 45 minutes later than their scheduled 3 p.m. arrival, they stood inside a barricaded area—some smoking cigarettes, a few opting to speak briefly to the media—and waved flags, occasionally yelling at the hundreds of city residents a few feet away from them, who were also barricaded in their own area.
Three men hoisted a banner emblazoned with the Klan’s website and the image of a hooded figure pointing out with the words “Loyal White Knights Ku Klux Klan Wants you!”
A Klansman who identified himself as Douglas Barker told the media on-scene that “They’re trying to erase our history and it’s not right what they’re doing,” in reference to the planned removal of the Lee statue.
By around 4:25 p.m., after a raucous chorus of “boo” and “go home,” the Klan took their flags, hitched up their robes and left.
Ever since the Klan filed paperwork with the city to have the event, in which they claimed that an estimated 100 would attend the protest, Charlottesville, its citizens, activists, clergy, and politicians have tried to devise a strategy to oppose the group’s presence.
Mayor Mike Signer had strongly suggested that residents stay away from Justice Park, and that participating in counter-programming held throughout the city—including specific events hosted by Albemarle-Charlottesville NAACP and the Charlottesville Clergy Collective—would send a stronger message. Signer also urged outsiders not to inflate the influence and power of a small hateful group.
“What I believe as a result of this attack on us is that we should not be intimidated, if anything redouble our progress towards becoming more inclusive,” Signer told The Daily Beast on Saturday morning. “You see how much outsize attention a few attention seeking radicals can get in this era.”Read More...
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