Archive for August, 2017

August 17, 2017

Some Basics on Charlottesville, August 12

I wanted to share some preliminary thoughts after reading some of the initial media and eyewitness reports from the demonstrations and attack in Charlottesville. I was not there but I wanted to delve into the ‘sides’ that everyone keeps talking about and set down some basics:

  1. The far right included white supremacists and one or more militias. The white supremacists included Identity Evropa, the Traditionalist Workers’ Party (KKK), the National Socialist Movement, and American Vanguard. (For more general information, the Southern Poverty Law Center maintains a national list of active hate groups.) One right-wing militia that appeared in reports was the Three Percenters.
  2. Both these components of the far right were heavily armed, including long rifles that concerned the Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, Brian Moran.
  3. The white supremacists’ public aim was inequality on the basis of race and religion.
  4. The far right was almost exclusively white and largely (almost exclusively?) male.
  5. Some portion of the counter-protestors came from outside Charlottesville.
  6. The counter-protestors public aim was to reject inequality on the basis of race and religion. Or, if you prefer, the counter-protestors public aim was equality.
  7. Unarmed clergy came to oppose the rally. They did so in a non-violent fashion.
  8. It is hard to tell whether terms like antifa (anti-Fascists), Black Lives Matters, and Communists are being used in reports to refer accurately to people from actual organizations or as blanket ways of categorizing leftist demonstrators (as in the way the word ‘liberals’ if often used).
  9. There were counter-protestors who came ready to fight, often identified as part of the antifa movement. They seem to have had (many) fewer guns. One exception I came across: Members of Redneck Revolt “were armed with shotguns, assault rifles, and pistols.”
  10. There were counter-protestors who came completely unarmed and pursuing solely non-violent protest.
  11. Based on the mostly text reports I have read, I have not been able to get at the proportion in each counter-protest category (#9 and #10).
  12. The counter-protestors included people of various races and genders. This was a point of pride.
  13. The VICE video strongly supports the notion that the car attack that killed Heather Heyer and injured 19 others was an intentional attack. It took place in the midst of a protest march composed of two groups of counter-protestors who had come together as one march. The car does not at all appear to enter or be caught up in an area of fighting between ‘sides.’
  14. There were fights and the throwing of projectiles, mostly likely between the white supremacists and some of the counter-protestors, for several hours on Saturday. The use of pepper spray was common. Buzzfeed also reported fights between the far right and police, but I did not find a lot of detail on that claim.
  15. The question of whether the police – VA State Police, Charlottesville Police, perhaps others – performed well remains to be evaluated. There have been questions.

I should stress this is preliminary. I imagine more details and fuller accounts will emerge that may or may not re-shape my understanding of the basics.