I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
Evelyn Beatrice Hall
Often attributed to Voltaire, English Evelyn B. Hall biographer coined that famous phrase back in 1906 in her work, “The Friends of Voltaire”. Nothing sums up my feelings regarding yesterday’s events in Charlottesville better.
For those who have no idea what I’m talking about (and my international readers may not), here’s what happened:
In response to plans by the City of Charlottesville (Virginia, United States of America), a protest is organized by noted agitator, white supremacist, and anti-Semite Jason Kessler to be held on Saturday, August 12, 2017 at Emancipation Park. Earlier in that week, Kessler learns of plans by city officials to move the protest to a different park. On Thursday, August 10, 2017, Kessler filed suit against the city, contesting that it has no right to move the protest out of Emancipation Park.
Friday, August 11, 2017
- A federal judge rules that the rally can be held in Emancipation Park
- Virginia governor Terry McAullife places LLE and the National Guard on standby for Saturday’s protest.
- Hundreds of people, carrying tiki torches, March on the University of Virginia. People reported hearing chants of “White lives matter” and “blood and soil”. LLE disperses the crowd.
Saturday, August 12, 2017
- Both alt-right and antifa protesters arrive at Emancipation Park hours before the scheduled start time. It is reported that LLE, in riot gear, make no effort to separate the two groups.
- Violence breaks out between the two groups. It is unclear what happened. Some reported seeing an alt-right punch a black woman in the face after she threw her drink in his face. Other’s reported hearing a “loud, sharp thud” followed by people screaming and trying to flee. Bystanders intervene among various incidents, but LLE does not get involved.
- Around 1130EDT, LLE officially rules the gatherings as “unlawful” and begin to attempt to disperse the crowds.
- At ~1150EDT Gov. McAuliffe declares a local state of emergency in Charlottesville. The University of Virginia cancels all on-campus activities for the day.
- Some hours later, around 13:30EDT, a grey Dodge Charger plows into a group of counter-protestors, killing a 32 y/o woman and injuring 19 others. The car does not stop at the scene, but is picked up by police some hours later. James Alex Fields, Jr., 20, of Ohio, is arrested and charged with second-degree murder. Fields Jr., a military veteran, may be aligned with the alt-right, though his mother claims she would “be surprised” if this were the case but admitted she “doesn’t talk politics” with her son. A glance at the Facebook page of the suspect by this author shows dozens of violent and anti-woman posts.
- 1500EDT: President Trump speaks in New Jersey, saying “We condemn in the strongest possible terms the egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides, on many sides.” He later followed with this Tweet: “We ALL must be united & condemn all what hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!”
- Shortly before 1700EDT, a Virginia State Police helicopter crashes, killing two troopers. The crash is under investigation.
- Saturday night: Virginia police announce the arrests of three others in conjunction with the day’s protests: 21y/o Troy Dunigan of Tennessee (disorderly conduct), 21y/o Jacob L. Smith of Virginia (misdemeanor assault and battery), 44y/o James M. O’Brien of Florida (carrying a concealed handgun). In addition to the 19 injured by Fields Jr., 15 people are hospitalized with various injuries. Local citizens hold a candlelight vigil.
(Sources: Timeline of Events for Unite the Right rally, Charlottesville Attack: What, where, and who?, White Supremacist Rally Erupts in Violence; Alt-Right Vows to Return, Three More Suspects Arrested after “unrest” in Charlottesville, Charlottesville rally deaths and arrests, what we know Sunday, Charlottesville tries to pick up the pieces after day of deadly unrest, Southern Poverty Law Center)
Then this exchange happened:
I’ll let you figure out which one is me in that thread.
The actions of both the alt-right group and antifa groups were wrong. No one is going to deny that.
What I will deny is that this incident is one-sided. Is the guy carrying the Confederate flag and the sign that says “Jews are Satan’s Children” wrong? Yes. Is the guy across the way wrong for giving the Nazi salute? Well, idiotic, maybe, but not wrong. Is speeding a car into a group of people because you disagree with their ideals wrong? Actually, I’d say criminally evil. Is physically fighting someone because you disagree or loathe their beliefs wrong? Definitely. Believing you are better than someone on the basis of your race, color, creed, or sex is wrong. Crying out for the injury or death of others is wrong.
That last part was the one thing my anonymous aqua friend probably shouldn’t have mentioned if she was condemning this incident, specifically. I didn’t ask, but I wonder if this person also would condemn the BLM for their anti-cop rhetoric that has resulted in outright murder? (NYPD, you deserve better.)
Agree, or not. Protest, or not. Speak out, or not. It is a right granted to ALL Americans.
EDIT: For what it’s worth, the “Unite the Right” group DID have a permit for their gathering.