The people of the United States have become more enraged than ever in the presence of Confederate statues and monuments across the country. It’s not just the citizens of Southern states that find these sculptures offensive, in fact, it’s people across America.
Recently, fights between anti-racism protestors and white supremacy protesters have gotten worse and the Unite The Right Rally this past summer is said to have been the largest in decades. Many of us have watched the news or read about these rallies, yet we’re unclear on what the war on Confederacy is really about. You’d be surprised at how much you didn’t know…
Why Are They Controversial?
Many defenders of Confederate symbols say they are not meant to memorialize slavery. They instead say that symbols such as the Confederate “battle flag” commemorate the region’s history and culture.
The Confederate Flag
Take the Confederate flag for instance. Supporters of the flag view it as a symbol of ancestry and heritage. To them, it represents a cultural tradition of the South that is very different from the rest of the U.S. However, for many Americans, the flag is a representation of slavery, hatred and white supremacy.
How Many Confederate Statues Are There In America?
As of 2016, the Southern Poverty Law Center identified 718 Confederate monuments and statues scattered across the U.S. Not all of them are found in Southern states and this number does not include the schools, counties or holidays that honor the Confederacy in some way.
Where Are These Confederate Statues Located?
Almost 300 Confederate statues are located in Georgia, Virginia, or North Carolina. One of the statues called the Robert E. Lee statue in Virginia was supposed to be removed which sparked the biggest far-right rally in years in Charlottesville!
The Unite The Right Rally On August 12, 2017
Its goal was to oppose the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park. Protesters included white supremacists, white nationalists, neo-Nazis, neo-Confederates and Klansmen. This sparked anger for anti-racism protestors and it’s likely why they sought revenge.
The Activists Spend Months Preparing For The Rally
They established safe houses and some were even avoiding their own homes. They rehearsed counter-demonstrations and a good portion of them were armed, while the rest served as security. It was one of the most calculated and carefully planned rallies…
They Prepared For The Worst
A number of progressive members of the clergy had been holding training sessions and they were telling each other that people would die. They even had to come to the church beforehand for spiritual and practical planning.
The Unite The Right Rally Was The Largest In Decades
The rally is said to be the largest gathering of American white nationalists in decades. One person died and dozens were injured during clashes with counter-protesters during the event. However, it wasn’t over just yet…
What Followed The Unite The Right Rally
Following the devastating violence at the Unite the Right rally, protesters toppled a statue of a Confederate soldier on August 15, 2017, in Durham, North Carolina. A female protester named Takiya Fatima Thompson, 22, was charged with property damage and disorderly conduct as she was responsible for tearing down the statue and inciting others to riot.
The next day, three other people were arrested on the same charges. The protesters climbed a ladder and tied a rope to the top of the statue while the crowd chanted, “We are the revolution.” Demonstrators pulled the rope and started cheering as soon as the statue fell to the ground. Some of them even ran up to the destroyed statue and kicked and spit on it!
What They Destroyed
The statue, which was dedicated in 1924, depicts a soldier holding a gun on top of a concrete pillar. The pillar is engraved “In memory of the boys who wore gray,” and it was seen as an emblem of prejudice that stood for 93 years.
Why Did They Do It?
Thompson who was released on a $10,000 bail says she chose to pull down the statue because she was tired of living in fear. “I am tired of white supremacy keeping its foot on my neck and the neck of people who look like me.”
Standing By The Protesters
Two days after the Confederate statue was toppled, demonstrators in North Carolina offered themselves up for arrest in protest of the charges against Takiyah Thompson. They demanded that the charges against Thompson and the other activists involved be dropped!
Declaring Themselves In “Full Solidarity”
At least 100 demonstrators, dressed in black, assembled in front of the Durham County Sheriff’s office and started singing “power of the people.” In a letter to the sheriff and other local officials, the protest organizers declared themselves in “full solidarity with… the brave anti-racist activists.”
Were There Any Arrests?
Four people who faced warrants surrendered themselves at the Durham County magistrate’s office. However, others planning to symbolically surrender themselves were disappointed when officials blocked them from entering the building. While some went home devastated, the fight for what’s right continued.
The Rally Sparked Calls To Remove Confederate Statues Across The Country
After the Unite the Right rally in Virginia, many other cities in America have decided to remove Confederate statues and monuments. Some have already decided to remove the controversial monuments, many which were dedicated in the early 20th century…
Statue Removed In Annapolis, Maryland
On August 18, 2017, under the cover of darkness, city workers removed a statue of former Supreme Court Justice Roger Taney. Taney ordered the Supreme Court’s 1857 Dred Scott decision, which stated that African-Americans could not be U.S. citizens. The city’s mayor said it was removed “as a matter of public safety.”
What Other Monuments Were Removed?
The mayor of Baltimore ordered the removal of four monuments, while the United Daughters of the Confederacy paid for the removal of one in Florida. The City Council in Lexington, Kentucky has also unanimously approved a proposal to remove two statues from the city’s courthouse. However, President Donald Trump had his own ideas…
President Trump Weighed In
In response to the tearing down of the Confederate statue, President Donald Trump said, “Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments…The beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns, and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced.”
President Trump also said that it will only be a matter of time before liberal activists suggest removing monuments of Thomas Jefferson or George Washington because they owned slaves. While the issue of Confederate monuments remains a controversial one, these rallies showed that people are going to continue to fight for their rights.