On the Front Line in Charlottesville

A mom recounts the experience of counter-protesting

White nationalists and neo-Nazis clash with counter-protesters as they enter Lee Park during the ‘Unite the Right’ rally August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The Build Up

We first had to endure the KKK rally a month ago where about 30 Klansmen showed up and a whole lot of riot police and about 1000 community members who stood up for racial justice. We were told they would be armed, nevertheless, we showed up. Families, teenagers, college kids, moms, dads — that’s the “Alt Left.” We sang songs and held hands and walked with the clergy collective singing We Shall Overcome. A few angry people, but mostly loving people concerned about their community. We breathed a sigh of relief when we got through that but next we had to face the Alt Right.

The Dread We Experienced

We were scared. We were not naive. We knew this was a whole different ballgame. It felt like a slow march to death. They were threatening violence. Said they were coming to hurt people. Yet because of free speech rights, we couldn’t stop them from coming.

We Showed Up

Some got caught up in first amendment rights talks. I did not. There is no freedom of speech when guns are involved. We are civilians. We didn’t know what the hell we were doing, but we showed up. We showed up.

They Broke Up into Small Bands and Roamed the Neighborhoods

Is this what you would want in your town? When a state of emergency was called, they were forced to leave. They marched out of our town, down Market Street heading to Mcintyre Park where we have picnics and carnivals and where the 4th of July fireworks are every year. Others broke up into small bands and roamed the neighborhoods.

What is Free about Any of This?

This could be your town. My town. My peace. My home was shattered and not just on that day but on all the days leading up to it. And Heather, brave Heather died and so many others with serious injuries. And we could not stop that because the Constitution says that they must have free speech. Free speech backed up by big guns. What is free about that. About any of this.

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