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Jessica Reavis, a national officer with the white supremacist organization League of the South, goes on trial on Monday for illegally carrying a firearm in Pittsboro, NC.
The charge stems from an October 2019 confrontation between Confederate supporters and antiracists over the fate of a monument in front of the Historic Chatham County Courthouse in Pittsboro.
The League of the South, an organization that seeks to create a white, Christian state in the former Confederacy, was one of the more extreme groups that sent activists to Pittsboro, a town of about 4,500 people that lies about 40 miles west of Raleigh, when the Democratic-controlled county commission began taking steps to remove a Confederate monument erected in 1907. Monument supporters retaliated by erecting a Confederate flag on private property across the street from a middle school named after George Moses Horton — a poet and enslaved person who was the first published author in North Carolina — leading to months of tension, including a standoff involving a Confederate supporter driving a large backhoe, and clashes resulting in multiple arrests.
The drive to maintain the monument also attracted members of the Proud Boys and the Hiwaymen, the latter being a neo-Confederate group that fielded members during the United the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va. in 2017 and a violent confrontation between the Proud Boys and leftist counter-protesters in Portland, Ore. the following year. At the more moderate end of the spectrum in the pro-Confederate coalition that assembled in Pittsboro were the Virginia Flaggers and CSA II.
Ultimately, the county removed the monument in November 2019.
Reavis, who lives in Danville, Va., was arrested in Pittsboro on Oct. 5, 2019 and charged with weapons at parades while waving a Confederate flag in opposition to antiracist protesters across the street. North Carolina law prohibits possession of firearms and other dangerous weapons at parades or demonstrations on public property.
Reavis was found guilty of violating North Carolina's weapons at parades law at a district court hearing in January 2020. According to a report by the Southern Poverty Law Center's Hatewatch, she told the court that a misdemeanor conviction would result in the revocation of security clearance she needs for her job as a long-haul truck driver.
Reavis declined to discuss her personal circumstances in an email to Raw Story, but she said she decided to appeal the conviction because she believes the North Carolina law is unconstitutional. "The US Constitution gives us the right to peacefully assemble while practicing our Second Amendment right," Reavis said. "When protesters start exercising their First Amendment, then that does not mean that my Second Amendment is suddenly to end."
Reavis has enjoyed a measure of success during her recruitment efforts in North Carolina. In a Facebook post, , a young man named Richard Sherman wrote that Reavis recruited him into the League of the South during the Oct. 5 event in which she was arrested.
"Met one of the national officers from Virginia and she was really cool, and the organization seemed pretty straight forward, so I joined up," Sherman wrote
Appearing as a guest on a podcast with Billy Roper — an Arkansas neo-Nazi who leads ShieldWall Network — following her arrest, Reavis acknowledged that the League's reputation made some of their more optics-conscious allies uncomfortable. And she blamed the Southern Poverty Law Center for chasing off potential supporters.
"I think that ultimately part of the reason why the people in Pittsboro cucked was because of the SPLC website," Reavis said. "I mean, when you actually read it, it's not that bad. It goes in and says something about what this monument truly stands for. It seems like someone on the inside reported it to them. Someone who is probably SCV — maybe not SCV, but more the heritage type, who want to smile in your face and stab you in the back." (SCV refers to Sons of Confederate Veterans, a group that stayed away from the Pittsboro protests.)
"Those heritage, not hate types, you know," Roper said derisively. "Like you have to choose!"
"Yeah, like these CSA II," Reavis said, laughing.
Emphasizing CSA II's role in discouraging League of the South from coming to Pittsboro, Roper said, "Yeah, I understand they're the ones who have the permit for tomorrow, and are not wanting to play well with others."
During the podcast, Roper asked his listeners to contribute to Reavis' legal fund through Paypal.
Reavis thanked Roper, adding, "Hopefully, we can build bridges and form alliances again, and fight together, shoulder to shoulder, as our ancestors did."
Ideologically, there's little distinction between the League of the South and ShieldWall Network. Both promote revolutionary fascism. The differences are largely strategic and geographic: ShieldWallNetwork advocates for "racially based ethnostates" emerging during an anticipated fragmentation of the United States, while the League calls for a second secession of the Southern states of the old Confederacy.
"We need a blood-and-soil nation in the truest sense of a nation — meaning a people," League of the South President Michael Hill said during a podcast with fellow League official Robert Isaacs aka Ike Baker in July 2020.
During the same podcast, Isaacs, who serves as chief of operations for the League, said he prefers national socialism over fascism.
"To my way of thinking, it's even superior to fascism, because in fascism the people serve the state, and in national socialism the state serves the people," he said. "It will be a blood-and-soil nation, however; it will not work in a multicultural polyglot like we have today."
The podcast reveals that League members are preoccupied with miscegenation, and spend considerable time thinking about whether so-called race traitors should be allowed to return to the fold. Isaacs even went so far as to envision bureaucracy in a future white ethno-state that would address the question.
"You know, obviously, one day we'll have someone in charge of the Office of Race and Resettlement," he said, "and I'm willing to defer that decision to them at that point."
In an email to Raw Story on Friday, Jessica Reavis praised the League president.
"I truly think Dr. Hill is an amazing leader," she said. "He is a very intelligent man. I'm grateful to be a integral part of this great organization."
Reavis said she is open about the League's aims when she speaks with locals at Confederate flag rallies and other events where they square off against antiracist protesters.
"Most people know what the League is about," she said. "If they don't, then I direct them to the national page, and this is how I get new members. Post-Charlottesville and now all the rioting all over the country has red-pilled many people. Many people are asking more questions than ever about the League."
In 2019, Reavis helped establish United Confederates of the Carolinas and Virginia with Woody Weaver of Fuquay-Varina, NC. UCCV has provided an outlet for League members who want to engage in street activism as the League has retreated from public engagement due to the legal and public relations debacle arising from its involvement in the 2017 Unite the Right rally.
As protests in response to the police killing of George Floyd swept the country in June 2020, Reavis and Weaver began to look for opportunities to clash with racial justice protesters. They viewed cooperation from sympathetic law enforcement as a key consideration.
"At this point, the police and patriots need to form an alliance and take America back by force," Reavis wrote on Facebook on June 11. "Bloodshed may be necessary at this point.
"Deputize the patriots and together we can be a hell of a force, and make peace and law again with the police by our side. I know them and the veterans are tired of watching, and their hands are tied…. WELL, UN-TIE THEM WE DON'T NEED PERMISSION TO PROTECT OUR COUNTRY."
Weaver responded in the comment thread that white nationalists should avoid engaging with Black Lives Matter in urban centers, and instead bait them into rural areas. Specifically, he recommended Alamance County, a stronghold of Confederate support almost equidistant between Greensboro and Durham.
"Get them to the country," Weaver advised. "They can be penned in and dealt with. Get them penned up in Alamance where there is known law enforcement backing."
When the city of Graham — the county seat — declared a state of emergency on the eve of a peaceful march against police violence and the Confederate monument, Reavis responded on Facebook with anticipation, writing: "Time to play boyeeeeeez."
Weaver outlined a strategy to work around the ban on weapons at the July 11, 2020 march.
"Roll out the trucks," he wrote on Facebook. "Clearly says no weapons. In your truck is different. Use them like a tank. You can't get past the barricade. Put it where you can. The nastieees [sic] are sure to follow. Put your trucks in the march. It is over a mile. Ain't no law says you can't. Put them in front or behind. They did not want a permit. So, the police don't have to give them a escort or secure the path."
The League's leadership is currently preoccupied with a lawsuit over its involvement in the Unite the Right rally, which is anticipated to go to trial on Oct. 25.
League member William Finck lamented during an April 9 podcast that a faction of the group is more interested in public rallies than building the organization.
"And they're upset that since 2018 and the Charlottesville lawsuit there has been very little activism," he said. "And I think these people are shortsighted, and they're not committed to the proper objective. We face a spiritual battle — a battle which is not found in newspapers or on the front pages of news agency websites — we have this spiritual battle for the hearts and minds of Southerners who still care for their own culture and heritage."
Hill, the League president, indicated he agreed.
"But we need to be smart about everything we do, and can't just go rushing off because it feels good or makes you feel good to say you've done it, and get your picture in the paper or get video on TV of you waving a battle flag, or engaging with the commies or whatever," he said. "That's fun and important. It has its place, it has it's time, and unfortunately the last three years hasn't been really conducive for a lot of that."
Hill has indicated in the past that clashes with opposing groups in the streets would not be his favored approach for wielding violence in service of the fascist project he wants to pursue.
"And I've told as many of our people — particularly young men — as I could: Be patient and remember there are two ways to fight a battle," Hill said during the July 2020 podcast. "One is out in the open, and two is from the shadows. And under the circumstances right now we need to start learning how to fight from the shadows."
Unlike her leader, Reavis is not interested in putting her public activism on hold.
Neo-Confederates have recently started promoting a flag rally at the Confederate monument in downtown Graham for May 20, which will be the 160th anniversary of North Carolina's secession from the union.
"I'm coming to the May 20th rally to support my friends," Reavis told Raw Story.
A report cited by The Intercept that was released yesterday by the Environmental Protection Agency's inspector general shows that Trump administration officials withheld information about carcinogenic pollution from Illinois communities.
"Bill Wehrum, who served as assistant administrator of the office of Air and Radiation until 2019, kept information from residents of Willowbrook, Illinois, about results of air monitoring that showed they had an elevated risk of cancer due to ethylene oxide from a local sterilizing plant, according to the report, 'EPA Delayed Risk Communication and Issued Instructions Hindering Region 5's Ability to Address Ethylene Oxide Emissions,' which was produced in response to a request from Congress," The Intercept's Sharon Lerner reports.
Measurements of ethylene oxide around the since-closed plant were conducted in 2018 and showed an elevated risk of cancer due to the gas. In June, the regional administrator responsible for the area was shown the elevated cancer risk and was preparing to release the information to the public.
"But Wehrum, who was not mentioned by name but referred to as 'then-assistant administrator for air and radiation,' directed the regional administrator not to release the results to the public, according to the report," Lerner writes. "Before serving as head of EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, Wehrum was a lobbyist who represented chemical and oil companies."
Read the full report over at The Intercept.
WATCH: Michigan parents try to pound their way into school board meeting to demand mask-free classrooms
More than 50 parents showed up for a Michigan school board meeting demanding an end to mask rules inside classrooms despite a statewide surge in new coronavirus infections.
The parents began banging on the doors to the auditorium where the Hudsonville Board of Education meeting was held Thursday evening after many of them were denied entrance due to social distancing requirements, and one mother said she didn't understand why parents weren't allowed into school buildings, reported MLive.
"The fact that there's no parents keeping an eye on teachers and what's going on, there's so much potential for wrong things to happen," said Jeanette Schuiteman.
"It doesn't make any sense to me," Schuiteman added. "Students are coming into contact with us and coming into contact with all the other students, so it's as if I were already coming into contact with the students because my students are in the school. So it seems like a silly rule that doesn't make a lot of sense."
Schuiteman, who has five children in district schools, saids she believes masks are "physically not healthy" and the decision to wear them should be left up to individual families.
"I think that's a decision that a parent should be able to make given the harmful side effects that might occur because of it," she said. "There is not really any scientific evidence to back up the effectiveness of masks for transmitting a virus."
Michigan leads the nation in COVID-19 cases, and officials say school outbreaks and new cases in young people are helping to drive the surge.
"Our parents' voices are extremely important for us to understand the pulse of the community, but right now it's not enough for us to get rid of masks," said superintendent Doug VanderJagt. "As soon as it becomes an option, that's a different conversation, but right now it's not."
Parents chanted "let us in" after they were locked out of the capacity meeting until security guards asked them to go outside, and VanderJagt said he regretted the scheduling.
"If we knew there was going to be 400 people that wanted to get in here, we'd have just had the meeting online," he said. "We didn't know how many to expect, otherwise we could have had a bigger venue and gone outside or virtual."
Hudsonville parents urge school officials to make masks optional www.youtube.com
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