For the past 2 years, a small group of activists have campaigned to remove the “Johnny Reb” Statue in Lake Eola Park in downtown Orlando. On Monday, May 15th, the man leading the campaign, David Porter, made a public presentation asking the City of Orlando to remove the statue. Over the weekend, Neo-Confederate groups such as “Sons of Confederate Veterans” and assorted flagwavers from the wider central Florida area began organizing Facebook pages to protest, perhaps sensing what was to come.
Sunday morning, Orlando-area “Alt-Right” organizer Augustus Invictus announced he would also be speaking against the statue’s removal. Augustus was more than likely in transit at the time of this announcement, having travelled up to Boston the night before to strike tough guy poses with “Based Stick Man” and other white supremacists who gathered for the “Free Speech Rally.”
On Monday, a couple dozen Confederate flag-lickers gathered outside of Orlando City Hall, which was dramatically streamed live by a local news helicopter. There were a few tense moments between them and counter-protesters but no violence occurred. A few dozen more entered City Hall to speak against the removal of the statue, along with Parker and many others who were there to demand the removal.
Some time during that meeting the Alt-Right and neo-Confederates probably got the sense that the writing was already on the wall. As previously mentioned, Parker and others had been working on this issue since the Charleston Massacre, and already had a preliminary consensus with City officials before this presentation even took place. Hours before public comment on the issue even began, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer spoke in favor of removing the statue from Lake Eola Park and resigning it to a Confederate soldier section of an area cemetary – leading most news channels to call this controversy over before any of the slavery apologists got up to speak.
For several hours many neo-Confederates did speak, but not without counter-argument and protest from other attendees, who did not let repeated comments about mythical support of the Confederacy from slaves and other white supremacist catchphrases, go quietly. One speech that slipped by largely un-noticed was that of Augustus Invictus himself, who made a ridiculous and pandering argument that Orlando simply needs more statues, and exclaimed that he would work with black activists to build comparable monuments to “Huey Newton or Malcolm X.”
In fact, by this time a good amount of the pro-Confederate attendees seemed to be seen wandering around, somberly waving flags in the City Hall/Lake Eola area. At the same time, the City of Orlando rushed the statue removal all the way to a vote, which passed 4-3 around 6 pm.
The Alt Right and co. got its ass whooped thoroughly in Orlando.
As we’ve seen in New Orleans, Charlottesville, and elsewhere, white supremacists are banking big on connecting their plights to nation-wide pushes to remove Confederate memorials from public areas. In each incident, the “Alt-Right” claimed dubious victories even as massive backlash made the fact that they managed to demonstrate in public without getting chased away and humiliated more and more ridiculous.
One could easily argue at this point that their attempts to splice themselves into the neo-Confederate cause is failing, badly. It’s particularly telling how clueless they are that they thought they could recreate the scenes of Berkeley in Florida; there’s no surer sign of a Florida activist’s naivete and inexperience, right or left, than thinking they can easily re-create protest scenes, or the support they require, from the Bay Area or NYC to here. And yet Florida wannabe’s like Augustus have been going all-out, trying to starfuck rightwing social media props like Kyle Chapman, and making “Fraternal Order of Alt Knight” and “Proud Boy” vetting pages to organize similar militant white supremacists.
Judging by the swift reaction by the Mayors’ of Charlottesville and Orlando, larger parts of American society are getting sick of this shit, too. If anything, white supremacists are annihilating the very Confederate causes they are attempting to capitalize around, by exposing these campaigns for the racist, slavery-apologizing throwbacks that they really are.
Regardless, let be known that on May 15th, 2017, David Parker, descendant of slaves that were kidnapped and brought to America, defeated the white supremacist agenda in Orlando, Florida, without a physical blow ever being struck.
Augustus claims that he is re-grouping for another protest for this most lost of causes this Saturday at Lake Eola Park. More TBA.