North Carolina backs down the KKK

Raleigh, N.C. – There was once a time when the Klu Klux Klan could march in the thousands with impunity in state capitols across the U.S. South. But today mass movements across the country have pushed them back, despite the electoral win of bigoted Donald Trump. Millions of people in the streets, marching against Trump and all he stands for, have emboldened the social movement.

Over 2,000 people rallied in downtown Raleigh at Moore Square Park on Dec. 3 to protest the KKK and Trump — to forge ahead with struggles for people’s power and against racism, wars and all forms of oppression.

The Loyal White Knights of the KKK, a small group in Pelham, N.C., had announced they would be holding a Dec. 3 “victory kavalcade” at an unannounced location somewhere in North Carolina.

To oppose them, there were coordinated big rallies in Raleigh, Charlotte and Greensboro. People also rallied in Salisbury and Mebane. People from countless other cities across the state came to the Raleigh and Charlotte rallies, truly expressing a statewide day of action.

Desmera Gatewood, emcee of the rally, stated the purpose of the rallies: “We refuse to back down against the endless police murders of Black people. We stand in solidarity with the Black community in Charlotte as they protest against the non-indictment of cop Brentley Vinson who killed Keith Lamont Scott. We stand in solidarity with our immigrant friends who now fear threats of deportation by Trump. Our movement for not one more deportation will keep fighting ahead!“

Gatewood continued, “We stand against hate crimes and racist violence against our friends who are labeled terrorists by the state and Trump by virtue of being Muslim. We are also workers fighting for $15 per hour and for collective bargaining rights for public workers! We oppose any new wars that Trump threatens to create. We move forward to advance our struggle for quality public schools and to defend all public services that Trump has threatened to shut down. We won’t let him shut anything down!”

The Triangle Unity May Day Coalition, representing a broad range of freedom fighters and organizations, including Black, Latinx, LGBTQ, Muslim, immigrant, women, workers and people with disabilities, called the rally to assert that #ThisIsOurNC — that the state belongs to the people, not to the forces of Wall Street or the wealthy, not to white supremacists and the police.

The day after the rally, the Triangle (Durham, Chapel Hill and Raleigh) area People’s Assembly drew hundreds of new people eager to get involved in the militant social movement.

The rally came a few days after the Charlotte District Attorney decided not to indict Brentley Vinson, the white cop who killed Keith Lamont Scott. It came only a day after a South Carolina jury was deadlocked and failed to convict Michael Slager, a white former North Charleston policeman who killed unarmed Walter Scott. A mistrial was declared Dec. 5.

As for the KKK, they did finally confirm late Friday night that they would be in Pelham. A group of about 150 folks, organized through the Triangle Industrial Workers of the World, traveled there to directly confront the KKK, but they had moved their event. Chasing them to Danville, Va., the IWW took the streets and marched carrying a banner, reading, “John Brown Lives, Smash White Supremacy.” The reference is to the white freedom fighter who organized an armed 19th-century uprising against slavery.

The KKK never publicly displayed themselves in Danville. They later appeared briefly in Roxboro, N.C., with a small caravan of about 20 cars that rode through the town, flying U.S. flags, Confederate flags and KKK flags, for about five minutes with support from the local police.

The unified movement had forced the KKK to scuttle and run. As Manzoor Cheema, of Muslims for Social Justice, said at the Raleigh rally, “The gathering at the anti-KKK rally should not be the only time when people come together to challenge racism and oppression. People need to become part of a long-term movement to challenge all forms of oppression. Triangle People’s Assembly is building such a grass-roots movement that centers power to the most marginalized.”

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