With racial tensions and incidents of racism at a nationwide high, Richmond anti-racist activists are preparing to counter a neo-Confederate rally this Saturday at the Robert E. Lee Monument with a competing event they’ve titled “Rally Against Racism-The Meaning Behind The Monuments.”
On Facebook, the two main organizers, the Virginia Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality and the Richmond Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, pointed to the first rally by the neo-Confederate group last fall, a mere month after the violent white supremacist marches in Charlottesville, and their return visit this past December.
In their about section, they refer to the neo-Confederates, saying, “While they attempt to wear down the anti-racist people of Richmond and “normalize” gatherings of gun-wielding racists in our city, we seek to tell the whole truth of who these statues depict and the events surrounding their creation. Despite its history, Richmond is a progressive center where overt racism has not been tolerated. We cannot afford to let that change.”
Scheduled programming at the rally runs from 10-12 p.m. and includes speakers, an open-mic-style opportunity for members of the public to speak, demonstrations from interfaith groups, and public art performances. Richmond Police have issued a statement to members of the neighborhood affirming confidence that they have the resources to “keep our neighborhood safe and support those engaged in lawful 1st amendment activity,” but note that ”unlawful activity will not be tolerated and will be quickly met by a proactive police response.”
Contributing reporting by Daniel Brickhouse. Photo By Landon Shroder