Today, around 40 people stood in front of the Stonewall Jackson statue in Justice Park, the site of Richard Spencer’s rally on May 13, 2017. They held many banners and signs with slogans including “Black Lives Matter,” “Fuck Kessler,” “Fuck White Supremacy,” and “Support Donald, Drop the Charges.” The following also includes a text that was passed out the day before.

On the afternoon of May 13, 2017, in Charlottesville, white supremacists Richard Spencer, Sam Dickson, Nathan Damigo, Matthew Heimbach, Mike Enoch, Jason Kessler and their followers tromped onto the twice-stolen land known then as Jackson Park. Standing in the shadow of the statue of slavery-defender Stonewall Jackson, they unfurled an Identity Evropa banner reading “You will not replace us” and declared their allegiance to whiteness. Later that night, Spencer and the other white supremacists held a torch-lit rally around the Robert E. Lee statue, in what was then known as Lee Park, in a clear attempt to intimidate the community. It was the first of a series of white supremacist demonstrations in Charlottesville, and a step towards these white supremacists’ own downfall.

One year later, Kessler is trying to organize another white supremacist rally here in August, but no-one wants to come. Heimbach’s Traditionalist Workers Party has collapsed. Damigo “retired” from leading Identity Evropa, having accomplished nothing. Spencer has given up on his failed college speaking “tour.” Their attempts to intimidate Charlottesville, their attempts to use Charlottesville as a platform to defend “whiteness,” have failed.

But we are still here: the people who showed up to fight white supremacy in Charlottesville in 2017, and the people who have been fighting white supremacy for long before then. Look at us. We do not require polo shirts or special haircuts. We do not require allegiance to this or that flag, or to white patriarchal leadership. We reject “Western chauvinism” and white supremacist culture. We say Fuck Your Statues, and the institutionalized racism and oppression they represent. We will keep fighting for racial justice and we will win!

White supremacists have tried their rallies and their lawsuits. They have tried to portray themselves as victims, while also using violence. They have threatened and harassed. They have tried to use the police and the courts and the criminal injustice system against us. The white supremacists are failing. And we are still here. Now, in 2018 Charlottesville, we will fight anti-Blackness, we will fight white supremacy. We will fight for racial justice. And we will win.

“A Year Ago…”: Statement at the Festival of Cultures a year since May 13, 2017

A YEAR AGO…

About 50 white supremacists converged, unannounced, at Justice Park, two blocks away from last year’s site for this Festival, Emancipation Park. Among them were leaders and members of groups like Traditionalist Workers Party, League of the South, Identity Europa, and National Policy Institute. They rallied under the banner “You Will Not Replace Us”, in reference to the city’s decision to remove the Robert E. Lee statue. One participant, Jason Kessler, would go on to get a permit approved for his “Unite the Right” rally on August 12 later that summer, with the collaboration of the groups who came on May 13, 2017.

A YEAR AGO…

No more than a dozen residents moved quickly to counter that rally because very few people in the City realized the threat the white supremacist rally posed to the nearby Festival of Cultures and the future of Charlottesville. These dozen or so people were attacked by the white supremacists, in broad daylight, with no police intervention. The same people who were attacked went on to testify in front of the City government to alert them of the threat of violence that was coming on August 12, and the City did not respond.

A YEAR AGO…

Those white supremacists came back to Emancipation Park that night, brandishing torches, for another unannounced rally where they chanted “Blood and soil”, a common slogan of Nazi Germany. They rallied for no more than 15 or 20 minutes, but the image of the torches burning under the Lee statue was enough to blast their message across media, marking the beginning of what has been dubbed the “Summer of Hate”. Many people expressed shock at their action, not realizing that so much of 21st century America had built up to that point: deportations, police killings of black people, unsolved murders of black trans women, mass shootings, online harassment campaigns against feminists and trans women…

THIS YEAR…

That dozen of residents has become tens of thousands of people across the US who have shut down Nazi speeches, exposed their supporters, stopped their revenue streams, amongst many other actions that have weakened the organizing efforts of that network of white supremacists. This resistance work had been done before May 13, 2017, but the resistance of last summer catapulted that work into another level. This year, we will not let Nazis come back, and we hope to tackle the underlying issues that made them feel comfortable coming in the first place. We hope you will join us as well in the many opportunities that will come up.


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