KKK marchers in Vir­ginia town met by throngs of counter-protesters

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Sup­port­ers of the white su­prem­a­cist Ku Klux Klan marched in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia on Satur­day to protest the planned re­moval of a statue of Gen­eral Robert E Lee, who over­saw Con­fed­er­ate forces in the US Civil War. The Klan marchers were met by hun­dreds of jeer­ing coun­ter­protesters in this quiet univer­sity town, where the protest by the no­to­ri­ous white power group was au­tho­rized by of­fi­cials in Vir­ginia on free speech grounds.

Dozens of marchers-some car­ry­ing Con­fed­er­ate flags, a hand­ful in the dis­tinc­tive white hood worn by Klan mem­bers-pa­raded past hun­dreds of peo­ple shout­ing “racists go home!” and other chants. The two groups were sep­a­rated by a metal bar­ri­cade and a pha­lanx of armed po­lice. Crit­ics say the far right, both here and across the United States, has been en­er­gized by Don­ald Trump’s elec­tion to the pres­i­dency. Be it the Ku Klux Klan, the alt-right or generic white su­prem­a­cists, these con­ser­va­tives have found a new cause in de­fend­ing the Con­fed­er­ate flag and mon­u­ments in the US South that re­call the era of slav­ery.

They are out­dated, aw­ful sym­bols of racism for many Amer­i­cans, who are mo­bi­liz­ing to have them taken down from pub­lic places. Anti-Klan protesters in Char­lottesville got an early start overnight, throw­ing red paint on the bronze eques­trian statue of the saber-wear­ing Con­fed­er­ate gen­eral. City work­ers were scrub­bing the paint off early Satur­day. Watch­ing the scene, Ma­son Pick­ett, a 60-ish re­tired busi­ness­man, said he re­gret­ted the de­ci­sion by Char­lottesville-which he said had be­come an “ul­tra­l­ib­eral city, even so­cial­is­tic”-to re­move the statue.

“Stat­ues can be good his­tory, they can be bad his­tory-you may not like it and you may love it, but it’s his­tory,” he said. But Tina Young, a 49-year-old lawyer, said it was past time to re­move signs of the state’s Con­fed­er­ate past. Vir­ginia and other South­ern states had had plenty of time to do so, she said. “In Washington, DC, they have put up a Martin Luther King statue, they have an Afro-Amer­i­can museum, they have a Jewish museum, they made the pub­lic space more fair and bal­anced,” she said. As to Robert E. Lee, she added, “he did rep­re­sent slav­ery, he did fight a war against our gov­ern­ment which killed thou­sands and thou­sands of sol­diers, he could have cho­sen the bet­ter side but he didn’t.”

Two dozen ar­rests

The de­bate about the legacy of key fig­ures in many for­mer Con­fed­er­ate states ex­tends from Louisiana to Ge­or­gia and the Caroli­nas, and even in Washington, where a stained glass win­dow in the Na­tional Cathe­dral de­picts a Con­fed­er­ate sol­dier. Slaves in Washington were freed only a year after the start of the Civil War. No ma­jor bat­tle in that 1861-1865 war was fought in Char­lottesville, pop­u­la­tion 50,000. But its pas­sions have been stirred.

—AFP

VIR­GINIA: Po­lice es­cort mem­bers of the Ku Klux Klan past protesters fol­low­ing a rally calling for the pro­tec­tion of South­ern Con­fed­er­ate mon­u­ments in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia.

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