Durham, N.C., Aug. 14 — A crowd of over 100 people gathered today in front of the Confederate statue in downtown Durham to protest white supremacy. The solidarity protest was called two days after white supremacists and neo-Nazis descended upon Charlottesville, Va. — where they left many people injured and one activist, Heather Heyer, dead.
The demonstration was called by the Durham Branch of Workers World Party in solidarity with local anti-racist and anti-fascist forces. There were firsthand accounts from those who took on the ultra-right in Charlottesville — organizers, activists, mothers and medics who were on the scene. In front of the old Durham courthouse, the crowd chanted “Cops and Klan go hand-in-hand!” and “No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA” as sheriff’s patrol cars blocked the streets and police filmed demonstrators from the steps of the courthouse.
Freedom fighters rallied in front of the courthouse while inside the county commissioners held a meeting. Durham County Commissioners have been under scrutiny and pressure from local organizers for their refusal to tackle issues of policing and deportation in the city.
At the height of the rally, local Black student organizers spoke to their struggle to remove a Confederate statue on the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s campus. The students led the crowd in a chant of “Tear that statue down!” As the chanting reverberated off the courthouse, demonstrators began to circle around the monument, demanding it come down.
In North Carolina in 2015, then Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law a bill blocking removal of Confederate monuments. The N.C. General Assembly continues their attempt to suppress resistance. Currently there is a bill under consideration that would make it legal for a driver to hit demonstrators with their car and face no consequences.
In Charlotte, lawmakers are attempting to make it impossible for demonstrators to rally by legislating that organizers must pay for all lost time on parking meters in order to receive a protest permit.
The fight against white supremacy is a fight against the ruling powers that be — the politicians and profiteers who have just as much blood on their hands as the Ku Klux Klan who showed up in Charlottesville.
Organizers and protesters in Durham sent a clear message: Love does not trump hate; only mobilized people’s power can tear down white supremacy.
The monument at the old courthouse was erected in 1924 to “honor the boys in gray” — part of the Jim Crow propaganda movement throughout the U.S. to glorify the racist Confederacy and to reinforce the “second rise” of an anti-immigrant, anti-Black, anti-woman Klan.
Takiyah Thompson, a student at N.C. Central University and a member of WW Durham, with support from an eager crowd, climbed a ladder and tied a rope around the statue, prompting anti-racist fighters to topple the statue. The crowd erupted in revolutionary fervor and refused to be intimidated by white supremacists, police or politicians.
The role of the state is one of direct collaboration with white supremacist forces. In order to beat them back, we have to build a fighting movement that is staunchly against white supremacy in all its forms — from monuments and KKK rallies to policy brutality, from housing discrimination and gentrification, from the state threatening wars abroad against Venezuela and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the war at home against Black people and all people of color, Indigenous people, LGBTQ people, women, disabled people, migrants, Muslims and poor people.
Anti-racist fighters in Durham took matters into their own hands. The Confederate statue toppled down and crumpled into itself. This is the first rope of many to pull down the pillars holding up white supremacy and capitalism.
The powers that be will crumble under the power of organized people!
Down with all statues of the Confederacy! Down with white supremacy!
Aug. 15 — Takiyah Thompson, the freedom fighter who climbed the Confederate statue, was arrested this afternoon following a press conference in Durham and released after a few hours, facing a hearing tomorrow morning for two felony charges of “inciting a riot” and three misdemeanor charges of “vandalism.” Thompson’s supporters are asking the public to call the District Attorney’s office to drop charges against Thompson and all protesters: 919-808-3010 (office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and to donate at Durhamsolidaritycenter.org/bondfund to a bail fund.