Charlottesville death sparks anti-white supremacy protest and challenges controversial monuments.
By Stephanie Salas-Vega
Thousands gathered in Dallas to call for the removal of the city’s Confederate monuments and to denounce white supremacy.
According to the Dallas Police Department, an estimated 2,500 people attended the rally. The Dallas Against White-Supremacy rally began Aug. 19 at Dallas City Hall Plaza and shifted to Pioneer Park toward the end of the night.
Lisa Ehrich, Brookhaven College art department chair, said she attended the rally because she is passionate about the idea that people should be treated equally regardless of race, ethnicity and gender.
“White supremacy comes with a body count,” the Rev. Michael Waters, a senior pastor of Joy Tabernacle African Methodist Episcopal Church and a leader of Faith Forward Dallas, said. “Now is the time to do what is right for the city of Dallas. Now is the time to bring these monuments down.”
On the Dallas Against White- Supremacy Facebook page, In Solidarity, the activist group that hosted the rally, described it as an event to bring the community together and condemn white supremacy, neo-Nazism, neo- Confederates and the alt-right in response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
On Aug. 12, the Unite the Right rally of white nationalist and other right-winged movements in Charlottesville, Virginia, ended with the death of Heather Heyer, a counterprotester. James Alex Jr., a protester, drove his car into a crowd, killing Heyer and wounding 19 others, according to CNN.
“The events that have happened in this country are absolutely terrible, and it’s our duty to speak out,” Caleb Brock, who held a Transgender Pride Flag at the Dallas rally, said. “Not saying anything is just as bad as supporting it.”
Signs in the crowd read, “End racism,” “There is no room for hate in the Lone Star State” and “End white supremacy.”
In front of Dallas City Hall, members of In Solidarity spoke about the controversy regarding Confederate statues. Joanna Cattanach, an Eastfield College journalism adjunct and Texas State Rep. candidate, and Justin Snider, a U.S. House candidate, also spoke during the event.
“I am here as the most powerful weapon in Dallas,” Cattanach said. “I am a mom, so the alt-right better listen up because mama’s speaking.” Cattanach said her son attends a school named after a Confederate leader, Gen. Robert E. Lee, a name she wants Dallas Independent School District to change.
“It is empowering and encouraging to be among a very diverse, but like-minded, group of people,” Ehrich said. “I think it is important to show up and let the white supremacists know they are not the majority of people living in America.”
No injuries or arrests were reported, according to The Dallas Morning News. However, a few tense moments were witnessed.
Protesters shouted, “Shame on you,” and, “Go home,” to two men who showed up to the rally with a Confederate flag. The police escorted one of the men out of the area after he got into arguments with anti-white supremacists.
Jared Rich, the protester who came face-to-face with the unidentified counter protester, said he felt rage when the man put his hands on him, but remembered the event was about peace and not violence.
About a hundred people moved to the Confederate War Memorial in Pioneer Park where verbal confrontations between anti-white supremacists, counterprotesters and anti-police groups took place.
The arguments between the masked individuals and anti-supremacists at Pioneer Park Cemetery caused law enforcement to take action. Police officers on horseback and a helicopter monitored the crowd in case of violence. Officers of the Texas State Guard also lined up in front of the Confederate monuments to protect them from vandalism.
Rich said: “The Confederates were traitors to the Union. They don’t deserve participation trophies, and they need to take [the monuments] down.[They] stand for a system of oppression that people of color are still fighting over 200 years later.”
Another counter protester who did not want to be identified said he is in favor of keeping the monuments because they are historical landmarks. “If you have a problem with it, tough luck,” he said.
According to the DMN, Greg Fenves, president of The University of Texas at Austin, announced the removal of statues of four people with ties to the Confederacy, including Lee, from campus grounds.
The announcement came after talks with student leaders, staff, faculty and alumni. The statues were removed Aug. 20.
On Sept. 6, Dallas workers began to remove the Robert E. Lee statue in Lee Park before a judge granted a temporary restraining order to stop the removal, according to The New York Times.
But on Sept. 7, another judge dismissed the lawsuit and Dallas can now proceed.