Originally published in the Autumn 2018 edition of the Virginia Defender, issue 58, printed November 8. Reproduced here for accessibility and archival purposes. To find other stories in the Autumn 2018 issue or to download the full PDF, see this post (pending). For the full web catalog, see our Full Issues page.
For the fourth time in less than a year, an armed group of neo-Confederates came to Virginia’s capital city Aug. 19 to “protect” the shrines to white supremacy on Monument Avenue. And for the fourth time, they were outnumbered, outmaneuvered and decided to leave early.
The New Confederate States of America and the Virginia Task Force 3% / Dixie Defenders had announced their intention to “protect the Jefferson Davis monument,” one of five large Confederate statues on Richmond’s Monument Avenue.
Their stated reason was that Mayor Levar Stoney’s Monument Avenue Commission had recommended that the statue honoring the first and only president of the slavery-defending Confederacy be removed from the avenue.
The commission, made up of local historians, museum officials and others, also suggested that the other four Confederate statues – of Admiral Matthew Maury and Generals Robert E. Lee, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and J.E.B. Stuart, remain in place, but with some kind of added “context,” a proposal that has pleased no one.
The pro-Confederate rally had been scheduled to run from noon until 4 p.m., but a few members from that side as well as several antiracist protesters showed up early. Two young anti-racist women took up a position directly in front of the towering Davis monument, which stands in a city roundabout, and refused to leave even after being threatened by two white men.
Quickly reinforced by other protesters, the anti-racists were able to hold the Davis statue position for the rest of the day, leaving the proConfederates to “rally” across the street on a median strip.
By 1 p.m. the neo-Confederates had 14 people, several guns, two Confederate flags, two dogs and a small child dressed in a Confederate flag. Meanwhile, about 50 anti-racists held the Davis statue, with another 20 across the street on a sidewalk facing the statue. The protesters dedicated their action to a call to end mass incarceration, promoted with signs and banners.
With the temperature hitting 86 degrees and humidity at 84 percent, the afternoon was a war of endurance between the two sides. With their songs, chants and continual taunts, the anti-racist side was clearly winning. One sign that read “Honk if you hate Confederates” was met with a steady stream of horn blasts from motorists.
By 3 p.m. – an hour before their scheduled ending time, the pro-Confederates packed it in and headed home, as the anti-racists played the theme song from the Benny Hill Show on their amp.
The same bunch of neo-Confeds came back again, on Nov. 3, to the Robert E. Lee statue on Monument Avenue
This time the protesters took the tactic of holding a Comedy Central-style Confederate Roast, complete with a comedian, a loudspeaker blaring The Battle Hymn of the Republic and some impromptu dancing.
The neo-Cons were not amused – but the much larger group of antiracists was.
Categories: Take 'Em Down - NOW!
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