People protect Confederate monument downtown

People protect Confederate monument downtown
August 24
04:00 2017

Despite some intense moments last weekend that saw protesters and guns being used to protect the Confederate monument at the corner of Fourth and Liberty streets, the situation remained peaceful last weekend in downtown Winston-Salem. 

Less than a week after white supremacist groups marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, to oppose the removal of another Confederate monument, rumors started to grow like wild fire on social media that a KKK rally would be held downtown on Thursday, Aug. 18. The local police department quickly doused that fire when they released a press release stating no rally had been planned.

The statement released by the Winston-Salem Police Department reads, “The Winston-Salem Police Department has received several inquiries from concerned citizens in regards to a potential KKK rally in the downtown area on Saturday 8-19-17. To this date the Winston-Salem Police Department has received no requests from or issued any permits to the KKK for purposes of demonstration within the city limits of Winston-Salem.”

Later that night the statue of a Confederate soldier holding a rifle outside the old courthouse was vandalized.

On Saturday morning, protesters with Indivisible Piedmont held a rally near the statue. Although the statue was cleaned shortly after the damage was noticed, protesters were met by more than a dozen residents armed with guns who said they were there to protect the statue.

Although The Chronicle wasn’t on the scene for the rally held by Indivisible Piedmont, staff was able to catch up with a few of the men who spent their Saturday protecting the statue. One of the men is named John, from Winston-Salem. He didn’t want to give his last name. He said they weren’t part of any hate group but were just normal everyday citizens looking to protect a piece of history.

“We just don’t see the point in taking these statues down. That’s our stance: preserving history no matter good or bad. That’s how you learn from it,” John said.

Another man standing beside the statue last Saturday night named Rodney from Winston-Salem said, “We don’t support the KKK, neo-Nazi’s or anything else some people are saying this flag represents. They hijacked that flag in the ’50s and started using it in their hate speech.”

“It has nothing to do with the Civil War or what Robert Lee represented at all. A lot of people are misinformed on why they’re taking these things down.”

Since the day Heather Heyer was hit and killed by a white supremacist behind the wheel of a car in Charlottesville, several protests, rallies, and memorial services have been held throughout the city to denounce racism of all kinds. The Minsters’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity (MCWSV), and Dellabrook Presbyterian Church co-sponsored a memorial on Aug. 17 and earlier that same week local Democrats and Republicans came together during a vigil held downtown.

During a telephone interview with The Chronicle last week, social justice chair of the Minsters’ Conference, Bishop Todd Fulton, said, “We have to stand up against all forms of hate and show the white supremacist that we will not stand for it anymore.

“This is a time where we have to come together as one.” 

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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