March from Charlottesville to D.C. aims to confront white supremacy

Over 100 people gather for start of 10-day trek

20170828-March

Protesters marched from downtown along Preston Avenue. 

Riley Walsh | Cavalier Daily

A crowd of more than 100 people gathered around the still-shrouded statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in downtown Charlottesville Monday to begin a march set to end in Washington, D.C. as part of an effort to denounce recent violence in Charlottesville. The March to Confront White Supremacy followed local clergy members and leaders who sang as they made their way down Preston Avenue.

Leaders moved the crowd into a loose formation, placing local men and women of color in the front, followed by supporters from Charlottesville and outside of Charlottesville. The group held placards and signs, some reading “bigotry is the shameful face of fear” and “diversity makes us stronger.”

This is the latest in a series of marches and protests taking place in Charlottesville following the violent events of Aug. 11 and 12, which saw a torchlit march at the University and a “Unite the Right” rally and counter protests in downtown Charlottesville.

Several clergy members gave speeches surrounding the statue before the march started.

“Seeing in my state nazis, nationalists, old-time [and] new-time confederates walking through the city chanting ‘Jews will not replace us’ [and] ‘You will not replace us’ was a morally chilling and agonizing thing,” Rev. Cornell Brooks said.

Supporters joined for either sections of the march or for the entire route. The 10-day march is expected to reach Washington Sept. 6 and will cover over 100 miles.

“We are here to begin a journey of a lifetime,” speaker and march participant Rev. Edgar Green, said. “We are here to recreate what we want to see in our country.”

Charlottesville locals were joined by additional supporters from outside of the city. Gloria Whitehurst is one such supporter who travelled from Norfolk to participate. She said she came to march for many reasons.

“[I came] to march for equality, against racism, against Trump — all those things,” Whitehurst said.

Whitehurst also said what happened in Charlottesville has had an effect on things happening in Norfolk.

“They’re appalled,” she said. “They had a protest in Norfolk actually about the monuments there, and they’re gonna remove them.”

As the crowd filed down the sidewalk on Preston Avenue, passing cars honked as the marchers waved back. A few drivers offered words of support while stopped at the red lights. Other bystanders offered water bottles to the marchers while waiting.

March leaders sang songs from the front of the line as they walked, while those in the back of the line were herded along by marshals and motorcycle police.

Students like fourth-year Batten student Kathleen Roche came to support the march.   

“I think it’s a great cause, and I kind of feel helpless,” Roche said. “There’s not a lot of ways I can show my resentment for what happened in August. So this is just one little way.”

Students have been involved in multiple protests following the Aug. 11 and 12 rallies, including a march held Aug. 21.

“It’s really sickening what happened, it’s hard to put it into words honestly,” Roche said of the white nationalist events. “Just utter disgust.”

The University has been different since the rallies, Roche said, with even discussions in academic settings changing.

“I’m in the Public Policy school, so most of our lesson plans have centered around what happened, which I think is great because I think the worst thing we could have done is pretend like nothing happened and that everything is fine,” Roche said. “Everything is not fine.”

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