Submitted to It’s Going Down
DANVILLE, VA – On Saturday, December 3rd, the Triangle Area Industrial Workers of the World joined a broad coalition of over 100 protesters from different affinity groups responding to reports that the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan would be holding a “victory parade” in Pelham, North Carolina. The protesters ran the Klan out of both Pelham and Danville, Virginia, the other proposed location for their parade. We held the street and marched through both Pelham and Danville, while the Klan could only muster a car parade speeding through six blocks in Roxboro, NC (aided by NC state troopers, of course).
The Loyal White Knights, considered the largest existing KKK chapter, is based in Pelham. Though they sent out information about the Dec. 3rd parade immediately following the election of Donald Trump for president, they did not include a location or a time. On Dec. 2nd, the KKK notified press that there would be a car parade at 9am in Pelham.
Over 100 anti-fascist protesters representing myriad groups came together to confront the Klan in Pelham. Meanwhile, the Klan kept notifying press that they were pushing back the time of the parade, from 9am to 11am, and then finally saying it wouldn’t occur until the afternoon.
Around 11:30, we marched through the streets of Pelham, flying banners that said “John Brown Lives! Smash White Supremacy” and “Fags and Dykes Against White Knights.” Protesters chanted, “No hate, no fear, the KKK’s not welcome here!” With cops on our tail, we held the street and marched to the community center. There we learned that people waving confederate flags had shown up at the Sutherlin Mansion, considered the “last capitol of the confederacy,” where Jefferson Davis and other slave owners fled after Richmond fell to the Union army. Comrades showed up at the mansion, which is now the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History, and the flag-wavers literally ran off. Apparently, they were not directly affiliated with the Loyal White Knights.
Following a period of conflicting reports that involved much driving back and forth between Danville and Pelham, we acted on a report that the Klan would be in Danville at 2pm. We hit Danville and marched through the streets, chanting “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA!” It was great to see local Danville folks coming outside and showing their support – a few even joined the march. Cops followed us throughout, insisting that we needed to disperse. Comrades marching in back kept a safe buffer between protesters and cop cars. There was no sign of the Klan throughout.
After the march was over, we learned that the Klan’s “parade” consisted of driving a few cars down the street in Roxboro, NC. Essentially, their “victory parade” was a cowardly flight from confrontation.
There was one incident in Pelham that needs to be addressed: during the march, a small number of protesters began yelling at an elderly woman in her car and taking her picture/filming her. The Triangle IWW embraces a broad range of tactics in protests and does not wish to “police” peoples’ behavior during demonstrations. But we do not believe harassing local people for no reason is a useful tactic. One reason the counter-demonstration in Burlington, NC went so well is that local folks felt empowered to confront the white supremacist groups themselves. When we demonstrate in a community not our own, we should be empowering and organizing with local people, not intimidating them for no apparent reason.
However, that was a small blip on an otherwise successful day. The Klan called for a victory parade, and we shut it down. The Klan ran away scared. Triangle IWW will continue to organize with various anti-fascist and anti-racist groups, as well as local people in the areas of North Carolina where the Klan is strong. Dec 3rd was a great start, and it’s time to turn spectacle into organizing! One way to do this is to form a General Defense Committee, which the Triangle IWW is committed to help organize. Organize working people, destroy white supremacy, and destroy capitalism.
Please be aware that there is an event planned for January 14th in Lexington, VA by various white supremacist groups to commemorate “Lee Jackson Day.” Triangle IWW will be organizing with other anti-fascist comrades to do to these white supremacists what we did to the Klan: SHUT THEM DOWN.