17 Comments

  1. Elizabeth Massie

    “It wasn’t supposed to happen this way.” What more can be said? “Counter” doesn’t always mean peaceful, obviously and sadly. What a powerful recounting of the event. Thanks for taking part and sharing. I could feel what you were feeling. There is a big lesson to be learned here. What we do with that lesson is on our shoulders.

  2. Very powerful and deeply thoughtful, Melodye. I am glad it wasn’t worse or you could have been hurt. In many areas of the world, groups of “professional” or “hobby” thug protesters turn out just for the fun and danger of the fight. I wonder if this might have been so here. Pre-rally meetings for protesters in this case – organized with pin cards might have allowed the peaceful protesters to identify each other, especially if IDs and group photos are taken. Then you would know who was who was not the peaceful anti- rally people. If these things are not careful prepared for, then it is no,wonder that people wander around unsure what to do – and possibly the thugs who can come to these rallies for a “bust-up” will lose some momentum under tight organizing. Easy to say, but preparation and some clear plans are essential in a rally against a violent hate group. Your article is exceptionally fair and also clearly this puts the police in a very bad light. And no, the yawning cop behind the glasses wasn’t looking at you. But I can see why something negative happened in that other arena yesterday, if you know what I mean… You are so so brave. xxoo

  3. Invisigoth

    Anyone who shows up to a peaceful protest and hides their face behind a mask is someone that needs to be asked to leave. Only cowards and people seeking violence do that.

    You were very brave and thank you for posting this.

  4. Patricia Saxton

    Life is scary. You are brave and bright, my friend. Best we can do is shine that light whenever, wherever possible. And I know you do.

  5. Laura Ennis

    Racial tension is high. Baltimore’s protests are portrayed as riots. The police either do nothing or escalate it as they did here in Baltimore. Who is in charge and who can we trust?

  6. Max Armand

    Sorry but some people don’t have the luxury to “peacefully protest” the KKK. The KKK is a violent, racist organization with a long, violent history. Telling them “peacefully” to please stop hating people of color and to love everyone is naive and ahistorical at best. Appealing to the morals of an overtly hateful, bigoted group is ridiculous and will only get you laughed at by them. While you’re telling them “all you need is love,” they’re busy organizing, mobilizing, and gathering the strength to DO violent things to people of color and LGBTQ people. We already KNOW the type of things the KKK like to do when they have enough power and space.

    Could you imagine telling Jews to peacefully protest the Nazis? Or telling Native Americans to peacefully protest against cowboys and colonizers? Or telling Syrian and Iraqi Shiites to peacefully protest ISIS?

    The only way to stop these kind of groups (and the violence they have planned) is to stomp them while they’re still small and relatively weak. Your vision of “peaceful” protest only enables fascists and violent racists and effectively gives them space to grow in strength and numbers. That may not sound scary to you, but it is definitely a scary and unacceptable outcome for the people who are most likely to be violently victimized by the KKK.

    • Elizabeth Massie

      A truly peaceful counter-protest is as much to show those watching on the sidelines (or via media) a better way of reacting to hate as it is to demonstrate the same to the members of the KKK. Think for a moment about Keisha Thomas, the young African American woman who in 1996 shielded the body of a white supremacist during a KKK rally in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to protect him from the beatings of the anti-Klan crowd. She was brave enough to act in love in face of danger and her actions created a powerful, lasting impression on many.

      Peaceful counter-protests do not encourage hate groups to grow in strength and numbers. There is no research to support that claim whatsoever. (In fact, a 2015 report of the SC KKK shows the group in decline.) However, truly peaceful counter-protests offer members of the hate group (and the world at large) a chance to see the incredible power of courageous compassion. Can we say no KKK member (or curious bystander) has ever thought twice about his/her hateful rhetoric after such an encounter? A truly peaceful counter-protest against a hate group goes a lot deeper than just telling them “all you need is love.” It is a witness to the power of kindness, forgiveness, and another way of being. As to being “laughed at,” why would that even be of passing concern to those who are strong and solid in the conviction of non-violence? Children worry about being laughed at.

      Regarding the advice to “stomp them,” this is anti-American. Everyone has the right to free speech. From the ADL website: “The First Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the right of freedom of speech to all Americans, even those whose opinions are reprehensible. To place an outright ban on the speech of certain groups would be unconstitutional and contrary to a fundamental tenet of American democracy.” (There is more regarding the KKK and free speech on that website.)

      The sad point of Melodye’s article is how so many there to counter-protest were not peaceful but seemed to embrace the idea that stomping them is the way to go. Such an approach does nothing but increase tensions, resentments, hatred, and more violence. It only encourages the KKK to believe they really do have a battle to fight.

    • I do not agree with violence as the way to deal with violent hate groups But I can see how frustration at the lack of help from gov’t and their agencies seem to do nothing about hate laws can cause heated responses and even violence. In a country with solid laws, this hate group would not require peaceful protestors or any protesters. Hate laws developed and then acted upon by the gov’t – and acts of hate and group violence should be properly prosecuted and hate groups like this one could be broken down peacefully. And within the law. But this has not been the case. Freedom of speech should never be the “cover” for spewing hatred, especially in cases like protest groups screaming death threats at women and doctors outside of abortion clinics as one example. Peaceful protesting yes. Threats no. Violence no. Active hate mongering should be handled by carefully formed and upheld hate laws. Huge fines against proven and documented hate speech and actions against citizens should be against the law and acted upon. Complicated but still possible to do – if the will is there. Given that any gov’t, who presumably wants hate groups who act out with racist or gender hatred etc. to be disbanded – or made criminally responsible – it needs to clarify what hate crimes are and then act upon them. Bringing up historical atrocities, to me, only emphasizes even more, years and years later, the need for laws that are fair for everyone and which bring the weight of an ACTIVE and upheld law down on citizens who actively and openly spread hatred and violence against fellow citizens. If we can charge people for home invasions that cause harm to the home owner, we can certainly figure out a ways to charge people who invade the very human rights and freedoms of other citizens. If the gov’ts from local levels to the highest courts keep yapping about violent hate groups and do little about it, then people should be writing every gov’t official in DROVES demanding these agencies make changes in the law and act upon those laws.

      • Elizabeth Massie

        A hate group must engage in a hate crime to be prosecuted. The KKK has the right, under free speech, to march around with signs with slogans we feel to be despicable, and to say things we find abhorrent. If they shout death threats or physically threaten others or damage property, then they have committed a crime. However, as much as I might hate their views, in the United States, racist and sexist groups have a right to “spread their message.” Go to the ADL page that discusses the KKK and their rights in our country. It’s very enlightening. I do understand the rage felt by those whom the KKK disparage, absolutely. But our nation has solid laws that give the KKK room to speak as they will. They seem to be losing steam and popularity over the years, however. With peaceful actions by others who do not rise to the KKK’s level of nastiness, I do believe they will continue get smaller, because the excitement of confrontation will be gone.

    • I don’t accept that violence is the way to deal with violent hate groups it only fuels their inner fire. But I can see how frustration at the lack of help from gov’t and their agencies seem to do nothing about hate laws can cause heated responses and even violence. In a country with solid laws, this hate group would not require peaceful protestors or any protesters. Hate laws developed and then acted upon by the gov’t – and acts of hate and group violence should be properly prosecuted and hate groups like this one could be broken down peacefully. And within the law. But this has not been the case. Freedom of speech should never be the “cover” for spewing hatred, especially in cases like protest groups screaming death threats at women and doctors outside of abortion clinics as one example. Peaceful protesting yes. Threats no. Violence no. Active hate mongering should be handled by carefully formed and upheld hate laws. Huge fines against proven and documented hate speech and actions against citizens should be against the law and acted upon. Complicated but still possible to do – if the will is there. Given that any gov’t, who presumably wants hate groups who act out with racist or gender hatred etc. to be disbanded – or made criminally responsible – it needs to clarify what hate crimes are and then act upon them. Bringing up historical atrocities, to me, only emphasizes even more, years and years later, the need for laws that are fair for everyone and which bring the weight of an ACTIVE and upheld law down on citizens who actively and openly spread hatred and violence against fellow citizens. If we can charge people for home invasions that cause harm to the home owner, we can certainly figure out a ways to charge people who invade the very human rights and freedoms of other citizens. If the gov’ts from local levels to the highest courts keep yapping about violent hate groups and do little about it, then people should be writing every gov’t official in DROVES demanding these agencies make changes in the law and act upon those laws.

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