A Ku Klux Klan rally is set to take place at Justice Park in Charlottesville, VA, this coming Saturday. The Loyal White Knights, a Klan group based in North Carolina, plans to protest the city’s decision to remove the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. In an effort to show both disapproval of the event and a sense of unity and strength in the community, there have been numerous alternative events scheduled. This method of non-engagement with the KKK demonstration directly allows the community to present a unified objection and proclamation of the value of such unity in diversity. The majority of protesters have often been shown to have good motives and peaceful intent, but the risk for escalation in circumstances like these is high. The Loyal White Knights and other like-minded groups feed off of the chaos caused by the collision of differing views, especially when protests become violent. Though peaceful protest is of course possible, the clearest way to oppose extremists is to divert attention away from them and their hateful message and onto the positive and inclusive environments created in its place. A message of community solidarity is then amplified by the empty streets surrounding them and the sound of their rhetoric being ignored. That is how you get their attention, that is how you make them listen, and that is how you tell them you don’t want them in your community.
Here is a complete list of alternative events in and around Charlottesville:
The Jefferson School African American Heritage Center and Jefferson School City Center will host a “Unity Day” (9:00am to 12:30pm) with coffee, outdoor meditation, and community discussions throughout the morning. Details are located on the Facebook event page here.
The IX Art Park is hosting The People’s Picnic: Coming Together for Community. Food trucks, music and community art exhibitions from 11:30am to 1:30pm. Check the Facebook event page here.
Unity C’ville will be a concert held at the Sprint Pavilion from 2:00pm to 5:00pm. And continued in the evening— “Grits & Gravy Dance Party” at The Jefferson Theater.
Unity C’ville website has a listing of the day’s event.
The Charlottesville Clergy Collective includes about 50 congregations from the area. On July 8, CCC will be at First United Methodist Church with a Hospitality Safe Space from 1:00pm to 5:00pm. Safe space, prayer and music. They also plan to maintain a presence in Justice Park before and after the KKK rally. Their website discusses a number of actions past and upcoming.
Albemarle-Charlottesville NAACP is hosting a rally from 2:00pm to 5:00pm at Jack Jouett Middle School (210 Lambs Lane) to take a stand for justice, equality, and civil rights in the community.