The KKK Took My Cville Away

I awoke this morning disappointed… and a little encouraged. Yesterday I attended my first KKK rally right here in my little city of Charlottesville, Virginia. If you’re curious as to why I attended a rally of the Ku Klux Klan you can read my reasoning here. The rally went off as expected. The KKK preached their hate. There was a large police presence. I witnessed several non-Klan arrests and saw 3 pepper grenades deployed to help disperse the crowd afterwards. All in all it was an afternoon of “entertainment”, our town made the national news, nobody was shot or seriously injured, I was documenting the event and captured some great footage… so why do I awake today disappointed?

I’m certainly not disappointed with the members of the KKK. They delivered exactly what they promised… a protest against the removal of confederate statues in Charlottesville. They applied for their permit to demonstrate, it was granted by the city, and the police presence protected them throughout the event. I don’t agree with their message, in fact, I’m staunchly against it, but I love the fact that I live in a country where all speech can be protected by our constitution and our police force—even hate speech. The moment that is taken away, we all have something more serious than the KKK to worry about.

My disappointment did not begin until the KKK showed up about 45 minutes late. Prior to their arrival at Jackson Park (now called Justice Park) the crowd was chanting things like “Black Lives Matter Here” and I found myself proud to live in a town that was willing to stand up to threats and defend the black lives in our community. And then the KKK arrived and the mood shifted drastically. The chants in defense of black lives became curses of white men in robes. The love and support being spoken of our black brothers and sisters turned into group hatred being demonstrated toward the protestors. “F— you, KKK!”, “Go to hell, KKK!” And while the venom continued to build within the counter-protestors, the majority of them never realized that their hatred toward their fellow men and women is not very different at all than the hatred of the KKK. In one sense “hate is hate”. It’s much easier to feel justified in our hate when we are part of a majority that hates the actions or beliefs of a minority, but reality is that hatred is hatred. It eats our souls, consumes us, and eventually spits out our bones.

I was also disappointed with the counter-protestors comments and reaction to the police presence. Printed signs and vocal chants of “Cops and Klan go hand in hand” were seen and heard throughout the park. People yelling at state and city police officers, “Why are you protecting them?”, “Is this how our tax dollars are being spent?”, and “You’re just as bad as the KKK!” were heard through the duration of the rally and afterwards. The negativity toward the police was so bad that I stopped filming for a while and instead walked the entire media moat that separated the crowd from the KKK and told every police officer I saw (probably 30 of them) “Thank you!” for doing their job. I wanted each of them to know that at least someone appreciated what they were doing. And what exactly were they doing? They were not there to protect the KKK (even though they did that as part of their jobs) but they were there to protect the voice of dissent. And for that I am unbelievably grateful. The police presence alone probably cost the city $100,000 or more. And as I stood there watching the Ku Klux Klan spread their venom, I thought to myself, “Thank God I live in a country that allows these voices I disagree with to be heard” and “Thank God we pay our police to help make this type of event safer for everyone.”

So this is our America; a place where haters can apply for a demonstration permit and have it granted, a place where counter-protestors can believe their hatred is more “pure”, “just”, “moral”, or “righteous” than the other guy’s hatred, and a place where police officers will get up in the morning to do their job to the best of their abilities all while hoping they’ll get to come home that night and tuck their kids into bed. I won’t soon forget talking to a black, female police officer at the rally yesterday. I thanked her for doing her job and mentioned something about this having to be one of the craziest days for her on the force. Her sigh, head nod, and the look in her eye told me I was 100% right.

Author: Kent C. Williamson

I long for peace, I believe in the power of music, and I live mostly on Mexican food. A few of my films... Stained Glass Rainbows, By War & By God, Rebellion of Thought, and When Love Walks In. I am the Founder of Paladin Pictures (aka the Paladin Media Group) as well as the Community Films Foundation. I'm the husband of 1 and the father of 6.

58 thoughts on “The KKK Took My Cville Away”

  1. Mr. Williamson, I appreciated your comments on the events of July 8th. I was also disappointed in the response of the protesters. I, personally, stayed home. Thinking that if everyone stayed home, this ZKK event would be a non-event. I felt some personal guilt when I saw the crowds protesting. But then I heard them. I am glad I stayed home. I have lived through many times in this country to protest, and I did. The Vietnam war, the right to life protests of abortion clinics in the 70’s, 80’s and more. I prefer silent protests to hate driven protests. But then, that’s me. So, as I finish my words to you here, I just wanted to thank you for your words. Cindy Janechild

    1. Thank you, Cindy! Each of us needed our reasons to stay away or attend and I appreciate that you followed your conviction and stayed away. I love the idea of no one being in attendance for the KKK to direct their yelling. What a beautiful image. Best to you!

  2. Thanks for your thoughts. I think you nailed it.

    Why is it that the same people who say “love conquers hate” were so hateful?

    1. Fighting hate with hate will never get us anywhere. At the same time a part of me understands. They are just so mad at the haters that it spills out and they don’t even realize they’ve become the haters. The one who collects royalties on hate must love it!

      1. I enjoyed meeting you Saturday,and was not pleased with the crowds overall disrespect for law enforcement.This was a day that i was happy to see end.We were flipped off as i drove the police home.I simply waved ,and will not lower myself to that level.For i live by faith not sight. Roger Knighton Uts Driver

      2. The KKK has terrorized the black community since its founding, with lynchings, burnings, murder and voter oppression, to name just a few of their tactics.
        But still it is not considered a terrorist organization.
        To me the KKK and its terror are very personal. My children’s grandfather was killed by the Klan.
        I knew that I had to go to the counter demonstration in Charlottesville last Saturday, show my face, say NO to the klan. We nice, peace loving white people have asked People of Color for centuries to be patient, to not fight hate with hate, to love their enemy. And we point out that “things are improving, are getting better all the time”. Yet we are not talking about mere years, we are talking centuries, generations! We are comfortable with the klan’s hate toward people of color but very uncomfortable with the response of righteous anger on part of black people. We white people have no right to judge black people’s reaction to the klan, have no right to tell them how to fight their oppressors unless we too become one of them.

  3. Police presence wasn’t there to make things safer for everyone, they were there to intimidate the folks protesting the kkk. But hey good thing tax payers are ponying up the money so a bunch of ignorant hate mongurs can spread their message and have protection to do so.

    1. You are so wrong in that respect. The police were there to protect our citizens of all races. You must have forgotten, they have taken an oath to protect the people. They would do the same for you. I support our police 100%_ they put their life on the line to save yours and everyone else.

      1. Amen!! Let the one who started all this hate pay for it.That statue and park has been there forever and because of ignorance from a few we all suffer.

  4. I believe I may be the officer you are referring to… city officer wearing a baseball style patrol hat. Thank you for your kind words yesterday. Stay safe

    1. Thank you for being there! Your presence at that rally was a testimony to me and I’m sure many others. We as a country have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. One step at a time and please know that there are many of us out here that have your back! Peace to you!

    2. Thank you, and each and every officer across our country who serves and protects for a greater good, freedom, and equal rights, even in considerable opposition of personal views and safety. You are our heros!

  5. Mr. Williamson,

    Thank you for your words on the subject of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. I, too, realize the dangers of suppressing speech, and while I adbor racism, I am glad you have eloquently highlighted the fact that hate-for-hate is no better. You made some very good points and I thank you for your thoughts.

    Sincerely,

    Mike Gallo

  6. There is so much HATE in America. I do believe in freedom of speech. I feel though that America’s filter of how a human being should behave is gone. We say it all. Do it all. Hate it all. Lie, cheat and spread rumors. We need a filter. A code of conduct that is instinctual. Charlottesville is my home and I have always been so proud of our forward thinking community. I sometimes see this from a broader perspective, as I spend most of my time out of the United States. This not only made national news, it made World News! There should not be a KKK, nor should society allow it. Just as society should not allow disrespect to the men and woman who serve and protect our country. I am sorry, but NO one should be allowed such bad behavior. This rally should have been stopped before it started. We are lucky it didn’t turn even more violent. Stop the hate.

    1. If this rally should have been stopped before it was started, the same could be said for the majority of the BLM events. Just like religion in schools, you cant ban one and allow another.

  7. This is the finest commentary I’ve seen yet. I am so surprised that so many intelligent people failed to see that they are the ones who created the event by showing up to counter protest. Without them 40 Klan men holding a poorly attended rally would be a non event.
    Now see what happens in the August event.

  8. Thank you for this analysis. I would still caution everyone to remember the THRONGS of prayerful, peaceful citizens and supporters there bearing witness. While I couldn’t agree with you more, I completely understand the rage expressed by some who have had very personal experiences with racism – personal and systemic. I think we would all do well to thank the Charlottesville/Albemarle police force for their professionalism. The Virginia State Police were another story altogether.

  9. A little more patience on the part of the police before they start tossing tear gas canisters and making arrests would have been appropriate. Odds are the crowds would have dispersed with a little more time. There was certainly no pressing need to take action when they did

    1. I agree wholeheartedly. The only reason there were still people there after the KKK left the parking garage was to protest the militarization of our police. If the police would have simply left, then the people would have as well.

  10. I was there, and my interpretation of “F*** the KKK” and “Kill the KKK” was that of hating and destroying the ideology, not the people. I guess I’m one of those people who believes that some moralities are better than others. If someone’s morality includes thinking that people with more pigment in their skin are less human then I see no reason that hating that ideology is wrong.

    1. I hear you, but do you think those words changed anybody’s mind? I believe that dismissing them as unworthy of note, by an absence of ANY audience would have been a much more powerful statement.

  11. PSALM 133:1
    Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
    We have come so far as a nation, in technology, innovation and ours minds are forever growing, but our hearts have turned wicked. We have taken prayer out schools and we have shunned our creator, the wrath of God is now upon our country. How can the greatest nation in the world, spew so much hate when we have every luxury and freedom we could ask for?

  12. The whole experience could have been avoided if the city council had not let Mr. Bellamy start this whole campaign against our heritage. No ones way of life has been affected by the monuments being there all these years. All races and religions deserve to have their history displayed whether it is Martin Luther King or Robert E. Lee. They all have a place in our past as well as our future. Leave well enough alone and let’s get on with the more pressing issues going on in our country today.

    1. This is some serious victim blaming, like “If only she hadn’t worn that dress, she wouldn’t have been assaulted.” The blame is on the KKK. And, to your other point, how many statues of Hitler are still up in Germany? How many statures of Saddam Hussein in Iraq?

    2. If they were not KKK members would their message have been better received? I think not. It should not be about the group, in this case KKK members, the point is that they do not want the statues removed. Let’s focus on whether or not the RE Lee statue and others should be wiped from our history. Again I think not. They are history. They do not necessarily represent today’s progressive thinking. But you don’t change facts in history by taking down statues.

    3. Well said, Kathy. May I add that we can not change history, we can not erase history. Tearing down the statue will do neither. We can only learn from history. I don’t ever recall Jews demanding that we tear down the holocaust museums in DC or Richmond. Like you said, lets focus on the more critical issues that are facing our state and nation!

    4. Totally Agree. History is exactly that. If We started taking down everything that was considered to some as a symbol of “white supremacy” We would be removing a HUGE Amount of Statues and even Monuments….and renaming colleges….

      1. Yes. You finally get it. We *should* be removing monuments and renaming colleges. Yale recently did just that very thing.

    5. Agreed, agreed Kathy! The city is neglecting it’s own, in places like Crescent Hall, where the residents have had no A/C for almost two years now. and they are throwing up hotels everywhere while a stagnant wreck that never finished construction sits like a monument to stupidity in downtown. The list of what the city council can’t get done gets longer every day, and no one’s happy except the radicals. Boycott Charlottesville!

    6. Thank you for writing this article and stating the true facts. I believe this how the majority of us felt. I still cannot believe how one City Council member was allowed to create such a horrific tragedy to this town over a immature 15 year old girls stupid remark about a statue that is part of this country’s history!! Wes Bellamy saw how he could take this remark and make a name for himself, not thinking about what he was doing to our area. So sinful! God Bless our community and America and pray for peace.

  13. I have finally read a sensible article by a sensible person. The internet and Facebook are filled with hate and untrue fake garbage. None of it represents the true spirit that our country was founded on. Thank you for your thoughtful and balanced perspective.

  14. I’m not any kind of fan of the KKK. In fact, if I were to run into any of them in the 1960s or 1970s, they probably would have beat me before they hung me from the nearest tree.

    But I find it absolutely ironic that the very groups that are against the kkk are also against the very Constitution and Law Enforcement Agencies that actually neutered the kkk’s violent tendencies towards them in the past? Despite what they claim, blm, nbpp, noi, antifa and their like (I refuse to capitalize hate groups’ names) have proven themselves to be the very anti-Free Speech Facists and Racists that they claim to hate. They would sooner break into and loot local businesses and destroy other people’s properties than actually enforce everybody’s right to protest or speak freely.

    I wonder which side of Saturday’s protest Martin Luther King, Jr. would have been most proud of?

  15. What did the anti-KKK protesters hope to accomplish? Were they expecting to convert any of the 40 KKK members to suddenly see the light? To the average humble observer, the differing behavior of the two groups was very telling.

    1. Yes, one group toted signs that said Jews were created by Satan while giving white power salutes, and the other yelled.

  16. Thank you for your thoughtful post about what happened in Cville. I appreciate the discussion about free speech and the fact that hate is hate regardless of what motivates the hater.

  17. If our City Counsel had half the common sense that I am seeing in these posts this would never have happened! Great dialogue!

  18. Biggest accomplishment of KKK was to illustrate Klan policies of City government, the “systemic racism” as Mayor calls it as if he is separate from the system. What Klan policies? (a) Urban renewal stealing of real estate still happening today, same CRHA, same HUD. (b) At-Large City Council established 1924 same year as Lee statue to shut out all minorities. Real reason it’s controversial. Since 2002 there have been at least 9 efforts to address this. 1980s NAACP tried to go back to old system when blacks were elected to represent blacks. (c) Public school locally funded teaches black kids they are slaves and white kids are oppressors. The Human Rights Commission was specifically prohibited from looking at govt racism. It’s all documented on my website. Anyone can Google the sources. So if good can come from the KKK, it’s a light shining on our own house.

  19. Hey Kent, it’s Scott here. Beautifully well written statement about the duality of human existence. My comment isn’t about the protest and the hate and the evil and the mean words. It’s about responsibility. I’ve been a cop now for 25 years and everyone there had a responsibility. From the KKK to the counter protestors to the law enforcement officers. The police acted as they were legally bound to do so. They probably prevented further violence by stopping the riotous crowd. There is a time to let folks honor their right to speak, yell, and scream. But there is a time when it gets simply out of control. Legally the police have to act. If this were the 60’s or 70’s, the batons would have been deployed and many injuries would have occurred. We are trained to stop aggression with extreme tolerance and patience. Three tear gas genades to stop a thousand protestors turning the mood into violence shows restraint, I think. I buried my son that day, and the very last thing on my mind was what was happening in downtown Charlottesville. I would have preferred to have been at neither place.

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