A year ago, a coalition of far-right, white supremacist organizations descended on the city of Charlottesville, Va., to hold a rally claiming to “Unite the Right.” Though many of these groups tried to disguise their intentions as being about “free speech,” on the first night they arrived they marched through the city with torches.
The next day, they were met by an anti-fascist coalition determined not to let open cries of “blood and soil” go unchallenged. Though the rally was cancelled when the far-right found themselves outnumbered, one of the white supremacists drove his car into a crowd of anti-fascists, killing an activist named Heather Heyer.
The same far-right coalition has called an anniversary rally in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 12 at Lafayette Park. They will be met once again by the workers and the oppressed of this country, who refuse to allow these reactionary ideas to spread.
Several demonstrations are planned throughout the day to confront the white supremacists. A rally will begin at 11 a.m. at Freedom Plaza organized by the Shut It Down D.C. coalition. Another demonstration is planned for 11 a.m. at Lafayette Park, initiated by the Answer Coalition.
The reactionary forces may also try to hold another torch-lit march in Charlottesville the night before their D.C. rally. A demonstration is planned there to confront them if they do indeed try to march, beginning on Saturday, Aug. 11 at 7 p.m. at the Rotunda on the University of Virginia’s campus.
Expecting a clash between the people and the far-right in D.C., the capitalist state rushed to find a way to protect the white supremacists — even proposing to reserve a train exclusively for them!
On hearing that a special train, met by a police escort to the rally, would be provided to the right-wing groups, the largest transit union in the city, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, stated that it would refuse to transport them.
Coming so soon after the massive wave of teacher strikes in the “right to work” South, the refusal of this union to cooperate with the protection of open white supremacists shows the growing consciousness of the working class and its renewed militancy.
Heyer’s death was a tragedy, and she should be remembered as a hero. But from such a great tragedy came a fundamental shift in the fight to dismantle white supremacy. The people of Durham, N.C., rose up and toppled a confederate statue outside the city’s old courthouse two days after Heyer’s murder. Some 40,000 people marched in Boston a week later, forcing the far-right to flee behind a police escort.
The destruction of the confederate statue, a physical monument to slavery and white supremacy, led many cities across the South to remove their own statues out of fear they would be turned into crumbled piles of cheap copper.
Even the bourgeois media, normally so quick to decry “violence” when the people assert their power, were forced to recognize the need for militant anti-fascist tactics.Though they focused on the predictable fascist sympathizing of the racist-in-chief, President Donald Trump, they could not deny the righteousness of those who confronted the far-right.
New fronts in the fight against white supremacy
Where does the fight against white supremacy stand, a year after Heyer’s death? Far-right rallies across the country have been confronted and denied by anti-fascist activists, but the white-supremacist nature of the capitalist state has reared its head in new ways.
In many states, neo-Nazis are openly campaigning for public office. Mass incarceration and police terror against Black and Brown communities have horrifically manifested themselves in the migrant concentration camps and family separations at the southern border. Red Fawn Fallis has been sentenced to prison for protecting the right of Indigenous peoples to their land during the struggle against the Dakota Access oil pipeline at Standing Rock.
U.S. imperialism continues to brutally exploit Latin America, Africa and Asia as well as Black and Brown people at home. The imperialist proxy wars in Syria and Venezuela continue, and a new one has been started in Nicaragua.
The people have been rising to meet these challenges. Hundreds of thousands took to the streets to protest the war on immigrants, and ICE facilities have been occupied in cities all over the country. One such occupation, in Philadelphia, has already forced the city to end its information-sharing agreement with ICE.
ICE detainees and prison inmates have gone on hunger strike to protest the brutal prison conditions across the country. Earlier this year, prisoners in Florida went on strike; a national prison strike is planned to start on August 21.
The fight against white supremacy did not begin in Charlottesville, and it will continue for a long time after it. But in the year since, we have seen undeniable evidence of the strength of the movement to smash white supremacy.