The seventy-five-foot-tall Confederate monument guarding the state Capitol on Hillsborough Street got some company Saturday as dozens of protesters and activists gathered to declare their intention to bring the statue down.
Police kept their distance as the group formed a semicircle around the statue, chanting, “One, Two Three … Fuck the Confederacy.”
Near the sidewalk, several pro-Confederate counter-protesters looked on, occasionally yelling insults at the crowd.
“There are no ‘both sides’ to this issue,” Durham resident Francine Briggs shouted at three counter-protesters, who were separated from the group by two police officers.
The protest was organized by N.C. State group Smash Racism Raleigh in conjunction with Young Democratic Socialists of America and Youth Fighting United States Empire. In recent years, protesters in Durham and Chapel Hill have successfully taken down Confederate monuments—most recently Silent Sam—but Raleigh activists haven’t yet toppled any of the three participation trophies for the South’s rebellion that still stand on the Capitol grounds.
Last summer, the North Carolina Historical Commission ruled that the three monuments can’t be moved off-site (Governor Cooper suggested sending them to a Civil War battlefield museum in Bentonville), as they are considered “objects of remembrance” and, under state law, can only be relocated to a site of similar prominence. And that doesn’t exist because they are planted outside the Capitol building.
So they aren’t going anywhere until the law changes—or someone takes the law into their own hands.
The protesters made clear Saturday that they’d no longer silently tolerate the monuments.
“How am I, a black man, supposed to be OK with something that honors the institution fo slavery right down the street from my progressive university? My silence permits the hate to evolve,” N.C. State freshman Brandon T. Loyd said through a megaphone. “It’s time to take our world forward because right now it’s childish as hell. America is a toddler with a bad attitude and it’s time we fight for growth.”
Two years ago, Stew Ravitz lost teeth during Charlottesville’s Unite the Right rally after taking a steel-toed boot to the face for wearing a yellow Jewish star in counter-protest. He showed up in Raleigh holding a sign reading “We are the Resistance,” willing to lose more teeth in the fight to take down the monuments surrounding the Capitol.
“When they show up, I show up,” said Ravitz, a Wake Forest resident, motioning toward the small group of counter-protesters.
As counter-protesters attempted to egg on a fight with the crowd, student organizer Skye McCollum urged the students to disperse. But, she added, “We will keep coming back until these statues are gone by whatever means necessary.”