From Workers Assemble
Photos by Catie Laffon
With less than twenty-four hours notice, the Loyal White Knights of the KKK announced to The Times News that their “car-parade”, a victory rally in honor of Trump’s election, would be happening in Pelham, NC around 9:00AM. We had been anticipating this kind of action – the Klan are cowards, and even after the political farce that is the US President Election, they were not willing to meet a direct confrontation from militant anti-fascists.
At around 8:00AM, our antifa affinity-group assembled in Duke Park with about two-dozen other comrades from Durham, organized by the Triangle IWW. We’d put the call out for out-of-state comrades to link up with our collective caravan at the Piedmont Triad Visitor Center just outside of the town, which acted as our staging-center for a majority of the day.
As we pulled into the visitor center, what struck me immediately was the scale of the answered response to such a rapid alert for mobilization. In less than twelve hours, local journalists reported that we’d organized over 150+ comrades for the black bloc: we had over half-a-dozen well-stocked street medics, legal observers from the NC National Lawyers Guild, and enough comrades to take the streets – and keep them.
After waiting in the visitor center with no sign of the Klan, we decided to relocate to the Pelham Community Center with another portion of the bloc that had formed there. As we continued to wait for any signs of life from the KKK, we passed the time by intimidating two plainclothes slave-patrollers and their “personal security-guard” that attempted to infiltrate our assembly. A few liberals who stumbled their way into the crowd didn’t appreciate that we were using “violence to respond to violence.” We not-so-gently attempted to explain that these officers were literally surveilling us, reporting our movements back to Klan, and endangering every person in the bloc – this was not street theater. This was an action to shut down militant white supremacists who have a history of lynching people, never mind the Greensboro Massacre of ’79. However, the message wasn’t well received…
Seeing that the Klan wasn’t willing to make a move in front of us, the bloc pushed the local press out of the area for a quick assembly to decide on what course of action to take. It was figured out quickly that we would take the bloc in a march around the Pelham United Methodist Church. Some comrades rolled out banners honoring John Brown and displaying militant LBGTQ+ battle calls, while other brandished their bats, and we took the streets. We decided to shut down traffic and fill the roads.
Within minutes, the slave-patrols were behind us with signals blaring and lights flashing. The armed-militants among us created a barrier between the majority of us and the cops, and we carried on uninterrupted until we circled the entire perimeter of the Church’s immediate area. As we marched we shouted “Racist, sexist, anti-gay; Donald Trump, go away!”, or “No Trump, No KKK, no fascist USA.”
When we returned to the community center, word was that Klan and several confederates had amassed in Danville by the Museum of Fine Art and the Last Confederate Capital. The bloc immediately rolled out in a caravan of ~40+ cars, and drove the 13 miles into Danville. As we arrived into town, the white supremacists literally fled the streets, and we just barely missed a direct confrontation with them. Following the narrow encounter, we attempted to hunt the Klan back to the Pelham Triad Visitors Center – no luck, the Klan was hiding again.
Now approaching 2:00PM, and making it abundantly clear that they would neither hold their parade nor confront us, another rumor came in that they were holding their parade in Danville. We held another quick assembly and decided that we go to Danville for one last attempt to catch them. If they didn’t show, we would hold another march through Danville. We drove back into town one final time and gathered on Main Street. After a moment of silence to honor the comrades lost and missing in the warehouse fire in Oakland, we poured into the streets and shut down the right lane of the road.
Almost immediately, the slave-patrols were following us with all the bells and whistles. They began serving us orders to clear the road because we were blocking traffic without a permit. We were called “an unlawful assembly” – welcome to the conversation. At every pause of our shouting, the police tried to demand our evacuation. Each attempt was met by the response of “Who do you protect? Who do you serve?” or “Cops and Klan go hand-in-hand!”
Despite attempts to kettle us as we marched through the neighborhood, the bloc moved through the police blockades for miles throughout town. As we moved through town, chanting “No hate, no fear, KKK not welcome here,” the bloc was cheered on by people of color within the community.
Having rallied through two cities, chased the Klan across two different states, and blatantly defying the slave-patrols’ orders, we complete our march to announcement that the KKK had cancelled their parade. The bloc explode into a frenzy of cheers, embraces, and dancing. We came to shut shit down, and through clear direct action and organization, we shut shit down.
Through the Peoples Mic, we announced to all of Danville that if the KKK tries to show their face again, we will be back to run them out of town once more. And more importantly than that, the people of Pelham and Danville have seen the truth for themselves: if you organize, arm yourselves and form self-defense committees, the Klan will not show their faces.
They will however try to act tough as they “parade” through Roxboro i.e. drive back home on the highway with their flags out, having been chased out of two different towns.
Our affinity-group road out back to Durham with the IWW: no injuries, no arrests, no Klan. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday.