Quantcast
Connect with us

Chalked messages show Charlottesville’s shock after weekend violence

Published

on

Sandy Cook, a 70-year-old former schoolteacher, bent low in front of the slate “Freedom of Speech Wall” outside Charlottesville City Hall on Monday and wrote a message: “Resist with courage, dignity and purpose.”

Her plea was one of dozens etched in chalk on the 54-foot (16.5 m) wall following this weekend’s violent clashes in the Virginia city.

ADVERTISEMENT

“This city is not racist” and “Unity over evil,” read two other messages.

As Charlottesville reeled from the killing of a woman during a white-nationalist rally, well-wishers left flowers at a makeshift shrine nearby in the heart of downtown.

Many of the city’s 47,000 residents blamed white supremacists for bringing violence to their normally sedate city, the home of the University of Virginia’s main campus.

“Charlottesville is a very tolerant place, which is why it’s so sad to see this happen here,” said Cook, who now works as a tour guide at Monticello, the former home of Thomas Jefferson, the United States’ third president and the city’s founder.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I am hoping that more people will come down here and will show that we are not going to let these people take over our town,” Cook said as she gazed at the wall, which bears a carving of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech for all Americans.

On Saturday, violence broke out ahead of a “Unite the Right” rally called by white supremacists to protest the planned removal of a statue of a leader of the pro-slavery Confederate army, a symbol considered an affront to African-Americans.

After the melee, as counterprotesters were dispersing, a 20-year-old man who friends say admired Adolf Hitler smashed his car into the crowd, killing a 32-year-old woman.

ADVERTISEMENT

Mario Jones, the 42-year-old owner of a cab company, said he had been shocked by Saturday’s event, largely because he has rarely encountered racist behavior in the city, which is 70 percent white and 19 percent black.

He said protest organizer Jason Kessler misled city officials by saying the rally was focused on the statue of General Robert E. Lee in a state that has long had mixed feelings about its slaveholding past.

“He started with a focus on the statue and a focus on preserving history, and then when he had the platform, he flipped it to white supremacy,” said Jones, who is black, as he stood outside the courthouse where the driver in Saturday’s incident was ordered held without bail.

ADVERTISEMENT

Russ Naranjo, 45, stopped to write “Kessler did this!!” on the wall, replacing each “s” in the name with the emblem of the Nazi SS secret police.

“He is a Nazi and he brought this here and then he got in over his head and ran away,” said Naranjo, who works in security.

Kessler was punched on Sunday when he attempted to hold a press conference and was ushered away by police.

ADVERTISEMENT

On Monday he blamed the police for the violence, saying they allowed the event to get out of control. A spokeswoman for the Virginia State Police, Corinne Geller, denied that claim.

Naranjo said the hundreds of so-called “alt-right” white supremacists who attended Saturday’s rally had been emboldened by Republican U.S. President Donald Trump.

“The alt-right has sprung up because of Donald Trump and he needs to do more to denounce them,” Naranjo said.

After being criticized by Republicans and Democrats alike for failing to respond forcefully to Saturday’s violence, Trump on Monday denounced white supremacists.

ADVERTISEMENT

While many residents and city leaders blamed the violence on white supremacists, some said both sides were at fault.

“Both sides came to fight,” said Mason Pickett, 64, the retired owner of a moving and storage company. “I think if the people on the left would have stood there calmly, the people on the right would not have kicked ass.”

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Frank McGurty and Andrew Hay)


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Commentary

Freedom of thought is under attack — here’s how to save your mind

Published

on

Freedom of thought stands at a critical crossroads. Technological and psychological advances could be used to promote free thought. They could shield our inner worlds, reduce our mental biases, and create new spaces for thought. Yet states and corporations are forging these advances into weapons that restrict what we think.

To lose freedom of thought would be to lose something uniquely human. We share our basic emotions with animals. But only we can step back and ask “do I want to be angry?”, “do I want to be that person?”, “couldn’t I be better?”.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Here’s how Trump could unleash a horrifying ‘era of authoritarianism’ in his second term

Published

on

What happens if President Donald Trump not only survives impeachment, but goes on to win a second term? It's a prospect that chills Democrats to the bone — and for good reason.

On Monday, Politico mapped out a detailed, hypothetical scenario in which Trump wins re-election — similar to their 2016 scenario of what would happen if Trump was elected in the first place — and some of the things that people could expect in the coming years. The result would be, as former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean put it, "an era of authoritarianism."

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

GOP lawmakers in revolt against Trump and are avoiding using White House ‘toxic talking points’: WSJ

Published

on

Adding to Donald Trump's impeachment worries are reports that Republicans are putting distance between themselves and the embattled president.

According to the Wall Street Journal, support for the president among GOP lawmakers is waning in light of his phone call with the president of Ukraine -- which set in motion the House beginning an impeachment inquiry -- and then his decision to hold next year's G7 conference at one of his golf resorts -- a decision he later abandoned.

According to the Journal, "Mr. Trump’s support within his party will face fresh tests this week, as key witnesses from the State Department and Pentagon are expected to testify in closed hearings before a trio of House committees on the president’s dealings with Ukraine."

Continue Reading
 
 
Help Raw Story Uncover Injustice. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1 and go ad-free.
close-image