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August 15

Statement and reflection on recent banner drops and lessons learned in Charlottesville, two years after the events of Unite the Right. Originally posted here.

We, a group of concerned anti racists and anti fascists, call on the community of Charlottesville to fight against white supremacy in all its forms.

We reject the notion that after two years we should all be healed from a traumatic, white supremacist terrorist attack. We reject a rampant, sensationalist media cycle that consumes our trauma for clicks or views. We reject politicians like Mike Signer and Terry McAuliffe using our trauma for political gain. We call attention to the lack of monetary and tangible support that has been provided to survivors of violence on August 11th and 12th of 2017. We support and uplift survivors of white supremacist violence, whether you are someone who was purposefully targeted by violent Nazis and racists, or you are an oppressed person suffering day-to-day at the hands of white supremacy.

We continue to hold strong in our convictions that the Charlottesville City Police Department, University of Virginia State Police and the Virginia State Police were purposefully negligent on and leading up to the events of August 11th and 12th of 2017. We, as firsthand survivors of those days, know that the police did nothing to protect us. We know now as we knew then that they will continue to do nothing to protect us. We affirm that the only people who can keep us safe are each other.

With our banner drops, we hope to shine a light on the white supremacy that still lives within our town. The foundation of this city is on stolen Monacan land; the community “landmarks” that white tourists flock to were built on the backs of enslaved black folks. While many black community members call out the inequities in the city and University’s portrayal of its history, white politicians and city leaders continue to silence those who rightfully point out the whitewashing of narratives around white supremacists like Thomas Jefferson or Paul McIntire. The demolishing of communities like Vinegar Hill, the purposefully racist, segregationist housing zoning, the monuments to white supremacists scattered around town, the continued targeted tactics by the Charlottesville Police Department like stop-and-frisk — these are all things that we cannot forget, we cannot let continue. We can no longer look the other way.

The city wants us to forget, to move on; they want to promote unity but don’t want to hold themselves accountable. The country would like to paint this as an isolated event, rather than an event that shows exactly how white supremacy manifests when it goes unchecked. But it will continue until we finally acknowledge it for what it is. We will continue to see it embodied in synagogue shootings, school shootings, concentration camps for undocumented community members, through state sanctioned violence like mass incarceration, the military industrial complex. We call on our community to continue fighting white supremacy and fascism in all its forms. There is no time but now. There are no both sides, only one side — the side of justice. The right side.

***

Two years since our community came together to confront violent white supremacists targeting our city, we are hearing reports of antiracist activists, their families, and other community members being targeted by FBI officers looking to gather information about antifascist activities on August 11th and 12th, 2017, and the subsequent anniversaries. We have learned a lot from each other as we’ve been struggling together against white supremacy. In light of this latest round of state sanctioned surveillance targeting, we uphold these lessons:

1. Police don’t keep us safe. We keep us safe.

Police and federal agents are not here to keep us safe, and never have been. They are here to uphold our social systems which are rooted in and serve to perpetuate the violence of white supremacy. Because we know the state won’t keep us safe, we commit to keep each other safe instead.

2. We don’t talk to cops.

We don’t talk to cops as a matter of principle. We teach others not to talk to cops, and we teach them why. We are indebted to those who came before us who showed us that we can work for justice without working with cops. We are indebted to those who teach us about our rights under the current system of over-policing and who also teach us to dream of a society free from the carceral state. We are invested in continuing to build our own skills and strengthen our community infrastructure to reduce our reliance on policing and strengthen our ability to keep each other free.

3. We reach out to each other when we are targeted.

When the cops or feds contact us, we don’t talk to them. We talk to each other. The state thrives on instilling fear within us and isolating us from each other. We refuse that isolation. We talk to each other, we keep each other updated, because we know that strengthens us and our movements. We will keep getting stronger. Dear friends: if the cops or feds contact you or someone you know with questions about activism, please reach out to your activist friends for support, care, guidance, love, and maybe a casserole if you need one.

4. We love and protect our targeted comrades.

We repeat and affirm the words of Assata Shakur: we must love each other and protect each other. We write this statement in solidarity with our friends and community members currently being targeted by FBI surveillance, such as trans activist Chelsea Manning, who has been under confinement for over 150 days for refusing to cooperate with a federal grand jury as a matter of principle. We remember how the FBI’s COINTELPRO targeted Black liberation activists and know Black antiracists continue to be targeted by state surveillance. We are with you, and we will do everything in our power together to prevent state power from harming you.

5. We are still here, still fighting.

Two years after the violent white supremacist attacks of August 11–12th, 2017, we are still here in Charlottesville fighting all forms of white supremacy and fascism, work that people of color and other marginalized people have been doing for centuries. This weekend we connected with each other to honor our memories here. Some passed the baton to make space for rest; some kept organizing and strategizing. We are in it together. The fight goes on.

We transition out of this second anniversary weekend with deepest solidarity and love for each other and for all communities rising up to protect each other in the face of both government and grassroots white supremacy.

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