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Racist ‘Unite the Right’ Rally Sparks Fear of Violence in Charlottesville on 8/12

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From the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy:

Dear Supporter,

Once again Charlottesville is the focus of national attention as an “alt-right” rally is scheduled for Aug. 12, bringing hate and fear to an otherwise peaceful community.

And once again people of faith are ready to rise up to meet this challenge with prayer, presence and, yes, even love.

Charlottesville survived a July protest by the Klan without serious incident, but city officials appear concerned that the coming “Unite the Right” rally could be bigger and more dangerous. Led by white supremacist Richard Spencer and local activist Jason Kessler, thousands of people could attend. The rally’s stated purpose is to protest the removal of the city’s Robert E. Lee statue from the park, recently renamed Emancipation Park. City officials have been attempting to convince Kessler to relocate his rally. Kessler has responded by hiring the Warlords motorcycle gang as his “security.”

But the statewide interfaith community is stepping up without fear of intimidation, as several events are scheduled for the coming week. At St. Paul’s Memorial Episcopal Church, across from the University of Virginia Rotunda, the Rev. Elaine Ellis Thomas issued this invitation: “We are happy to open our doors on the evening of Friday, Aug. 11, for a mass prayer meeting, much in the spirit of the old civil rights marches the night before they would gather to sing and to pray and to build community and then to go out into the world the next day to proclaim love and justice for all people.”

There will also be worship services Tuesday, Aug. 8, at 7 p.m. at University Baptist Church Monday, Aug. 10, at 7 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church.

There will also be a community-wide discussion, “Countering Charlottesville’s Summer of Hate,” Monday night at Westminster Presbyterian Church. This educational event on non-violent protest will be led by Richard Lord of the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice and is being sponsored by Charlottesville Gathers.

First United Methodist Church will serve as a safe space on Aug. 12. For those supporters in the Charlottesville area who want to make a contribution, please bring water bottles and snacks to First UMC between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Aug. 9-11.

United Methodist Bishop for Virginia Sharma Lewis has asked clergy serving under her leadership to join in non-violent response to the “alt-right” gathering. “With this interfaith response, we as the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church have the potential to be a positive influence with our ecumenical brothers and sisters,” she wrote in a letter to pastors. “We as a church need to be a visible beacon to support this community against hate.”

In a statement to NBC29 TV, Kessler said “Most of these so-called “faith leaders” are from Unitarian churches that don’t even believe in God. They’re open Communists disguising their political activity in a veneer of religiosity. They’re scam artists and should have their IRS tax exemption revoked.”

Sometimes when a small fringe group spews hate and craziness, we probably should just ignore it. Other times, like now, it is important for people of faith to stand up against those who spew hate against Jews, Muslims, people of color or others in our community.

If you have questions, visit the websites of Congregate Charlottesville or the Charlottesville Clergy Collective. The Virginia Interfaith Center appreciates all the work that has been done to organize a peaceful response to neutralize this kind of hate and not let it have the last word.

We also appreciate your support for our work. Please consider making a donation to support the programs of the Interfaith Center.

Yours in faith and solidarity,

Neill Caldwell

Director of Communications, Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy

  • From UVA President Teresa Sullivan (h/t to Coy Barefoot):

    To the University community:

    On August 12, several groups are planning to participate in the “Unite the Right” rally in Emancipation Park in downtown Charlottesville. Although the groups represent a variety of ideologies and agendas, many of them express beliefs that directly contradict our community’s values of diversity, inclusion, and mutual respect.

    UVA is public in the most profound and meaningful sense of that word; we are committed to the public good, and we seek to recognize and represent the great diversity of the public in our Commonwealth and in the country. We believe that diversity is an essential element of excellence, and that intolerance and exclusion inhibit progress. We also support the First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly. These rights belong to the “Unite the Right” activists who will express their beliefs, and to the many others who disagree with them.

    One may stand up for one’s beliefs without physical confrontation. I urge students and all UVA community members to avoid the August 12 rally and avoid physical confrontation generally. There is a credible risk of violence at this event, and your safety is my foremost concern.

    Moreover, to approach the rally and confront the activists would only satisfy their craving for spectacle. They believe that your counter-protest helps their cause. One advocate of the rally said, “We should aim to draw the SJWs [social justice warriors] out in Charlottesville and create a massive polarizing spectacle in order to draw as huge a contrast as possible. They will reveal themselves to be violent, intolerant, opposed to free speech, the insane enforcers of political correctness, etc.” The organizers of the rally want confrontation; do not gratify their desire.

    I encourage you to participate in events on Saturday, August 12, that are open to the community and planned by UVA. A group of faculty and staff will be prepared to facilitate discussions on topics such as constitutional rights and citizenship; community dynamics and polarization; and local history. Several University libraries will be open. Athletics has two free events scheduled on Saturday. The men’s soccer team will host Wright State in Klockner Stadium at 1:00 p.m., and beginning at 4:00 p.m., Athletics will host its Fall Sports Meet-the-Teams event followed by Scott Stadium Movie Night. Additional details about these and other events scheduled for August 12 will be announced early next week. I encourage participation in these UVA-sponsored events.

    With the August 12 rally coming just a few weeks after the KKK rally in July and amid the continued divisive rancor in our national discourse, we are reminded that the struggle for equality, inclusion, and civility requires a prolonged and persistent effort. Let’s do our part to continue this important work.

    Teresa A. Sullivan
    President

  • Dee Dee

    “City officials have been attempting to convince Kessler to relocate his rally. ”
    Why on earth did they issue the permit in the first place? This is the third KKK protest this year–I think they’ve had their say.

  • I find it curious that when the Interfaithers are accused of being atheistic communists they do not deny this or defend themselves. They merely rant and throw names at their critics, using rubbishy clichés about “those who spew hate.” Basically they’re granting Kessler’s point.

    • Yeah, because people of faith opposing white supremacy are “communists.” Uh huh……

      • Except they’re NOT ‘people of faith’ and tacitly acknowledge that by not denying it when they’re called atheists and communists… and then marching ahead with tired insults from the commie playbook. Nice try.

        • You mean these folks are not “people of faith?”

          Presbyterian
          Second Presbyterian Church (Richmond)

          Roman Catholic
          St. Bridget Catholic Church (Richmond)

          United Church of Christ
          First Congregational Christian UCC (Chesterfield)

          United Methodists
          Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church (Richmond)

          • You are listing church names on the ‘Interfaith’ circular’s mailing list. Lefties like to appropriate churches and eleemosynary institutions, and use their facilities for commie fundraisers and rainbow-flag displays. This has nothing to do with theology or salvation. These characters are not organizing against nationalists and traditionalists because of a deep devotion to the Mystical Body of Christ.

      • Edward N Virginia

        since ‘bluevirginia’ is – obviously – a blog to help elect democrats we must shine some LIGHT on the FACT that Democrats continue lose some critical elections BECAUSE they mush-mouth some sort of support for ‘faith communities’ when it suits political purposes – as in this blog post – but in most other times ignore faith perspectives or aggressively denounce them, as in the numerous meetings i’ve attended where people felt comfortable, in the meeting, to state ‘i hate christians’ … and I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard jokes that were framed, and told, intentionally to shock and to offend people of faith (e.g. ‘let’s put birth control in their water supply’ …. )

  • Edward N Virginia

    WHILE these preachers, pastors, leaders, etc are well intentioned they display willful ignorance that

    – the ‘Generals statues’ culture wars were STARTED by City Councilors intentionally in a way to draw out and to offend cultural traditionalists who respect the statues and their history and historical references
    – Bellamy and Szakos INTENDED to start a culture war to DISTRACT from Bellamy’s hideous racist, women-abusing, gay baiting and other ugly social media activity for MANY YEARS (not a single or a few bad tweets but YEARS OF THEM!)
    – the culture wars – going on 2 years now! not just this summer! – over the statues continue largely because of the CYNICAL SELFISHLY POLITICAL (not self-less other-regarding) intentions of City Councilors who want and need for them to continue
    – they need for them to continue, to continue to distract from the abysmal performance of the all-Democratic Council! not only in the matter of the statues, but that too

    AND these preachers, pastors, and leaders manifest no insight about the deep social structural legacies of the ‘Jim Crow’ in the city.

    For example: City Charter was devised in a flourishing period of ‘Jim Crow’ and ‘racial eugenics’ to ensure ELITE CONTROL ( otherwise known in less genteel terms as WHITE POWER) of the City, especially to CONTROL people of color, poor and working class people (especially the ‘rednecks’ and ‘White Trash’ and ‘racial mixing classes’ coming into the City), and other folks that the elites didn’t like.

    What flows from that?: e.g. City’s neighborhoods remain – since ‘Jim Crow’ – horribly SEGREGATED by race and color, income and class, affordability of housing, quality of housing. From time to time a Councilor moans about housing affordability and/or segregation but all of them – including Bellamy and Szakos have had PLENTY OF TIME to make housing affordability, or de-segregating neighborhoods, or both, their signature ‘battle’ but haven’t. And furthermore all of the Council’s acted surprised when attention went to the unfit, unsafe, unhealthy high rise for the sick, old and poor- Crescent Halls – built in 1976! F**K yeah, 1976! AND they didn’t think the sick, old, and poor should have housing even a bitty bit more updated than 1976!? In this one example alone we see that Councilors – all Democrats – are ALL CREEPS! And another touchstone: e.g. has multiple UNSOLVED murders: a trans woman of color who was from a poor neighborhood and poor family who was said to keeping liaison with powerful elite men and perhaps blackmailing them, a ‘trailer trash’ man – full of tattoos, and looking like a caricature of race mixing – from a poor neighborhood and poor family who was said to be involved with illicit drugs, an immigrant from central America who was said to be involved with gang violence.

    Statue culture wars are merely fun and games compared with the REAL SUSTAINED HARD WORK that these pastors, preachers, and leaders OUGHT to be doing.

  • Buscapé Axé

    Liberals are tired of losing.