Black Lives Matter DC has announced it will hold a counter-protest against the “White Civil Rights Rally” planned for Sunday, August 12 near the White House.
After learning last month that the National Park Service had accepted a permit for the white supremacist rally, which is being organized by those responsible for the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville last year, BLM organizers were left feeling frustrated, according to D.C.-based WTTG. The group decided to channel its disappointment into direct action, organizing its own rally to counter the narrative being pushed by the “White Civil Rights” demonstrators.
“We are stronger than they are…they are resistant to change and to progress that Black Lives Matter has been doing over the last four years with black liberation and fighting racism and fascism,” Makia Green of BLM DC told WTTG. “So it’s important that we let D.C. and the rest of the world know that we are not going to stand for the hate.”
Adding to the mounting anxiety surrounding the August 12 rally is the fact that it was deliberately scheduled on the one-year anniversary of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, during which one woman, Heather Heyer, was killed after a rally attendee drove his car into a group of counter-protesters.
Green told WTTG that the situation presented undeniable safety concerns, but said the group planned to offer “training classes” to those attending the counter-protest, to prepare them for any danger that may ensue. Shut It Down DC, an activist group that aims to counter white supremacy and fascism, has offered to host those classes, holding a special resistance training session on Friday, August 10, ahead of the rally.
Members from Black Lives Matter New York are also planning to march down to D.C. that weekend to bring what they are calling a “wave of love.”
“Our goal is not to confront them physically, but to create a wave of love around them,” Black Lives Matter New York leader Hawk Newsome told the New York Daily News.
Speaking to the current divisions in the country, he added, “[We haven’t] gotten any closer to healing the racial divide in this country. If anything, we are further from it. We must come together and demand that each citizen take action to end hatred in all its forms.”
Jason Kessler, the man at the helm of last year’s Unite the Right protest and this year’s “White Civil Rights” demonstration has said the upcoming rally has “a new purpose“: to speak out about what he claims was “civil rights abuse.”
According to Kessler, what took place at last year’s Unite the Right event was an infringement on the white supremacists’ constitutional right to peacefully assemble. “It wasn’t the fault of my group that that stuff happened,” he told D.C. CBS-affiliate WUSA, referring to the attack that killed 32-year-old Heyer.
He continued, “We’re not able to peacefully assemble. We’re not able to speak. …This rally is not about opposing [minority groups]. This is about us. This is about white people and standing up for our rights.”
Kessler also told the Washington Post that he hopes to bring awareness to elected officials about what he feels is discrimination against white people.
Tracye Redd, an organizer with Black Lives Matter DC, disagreed.
“I keep telling people, if your right to rally and your right to protest means that someone else’s life might be in danger, then it is no longer free speech but it is hate speech,” Redd told WUSA.
The so-called “White Civil Rights” rally is scheduled to take place at Lafayette Park, across from the White House on Sunday, August 12. Counter-demonstrators will begin organizing two days before, on Friday, and counter-protest attendees will meet at the park at 10 a.m. on Sunday morning.