Residents of Charlottesville are bracing themselves as supporters of the Ku Klux Klan plan to march to the town this Saturday. The white supremacist group will gather to protest the planned removal of a statue of famed Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
Officials in the normally quiet university town have authorized the march to the dismay of many Americans. This has also sparked heated debate across the country with many on the left accusing President Donald Trump of encouraging far-right groups with his fiery rhetoric.
According to News 24, the group, along with the alt-right, and generic white supremacists have gained a new cause in defending the Confederate flag. The flag, along with monuments commemorating the Confederacy, are seen by some as symbols glorifying slavery.
A movement to remove such symbols was started in recent years which sparked heated arguments across the aisle. Those in favor of removing them argued they are outdated symbols of racism for many Americans, particularly African-Americans who were forced to work as slaves in many of the Confederate states. On the other hand, those in favor of keeping them argue that they are part of their respective states’ history.
Charlottesville, a town of just over 50,000 people, was not a site of any Civil War battle. However, the divide between the people living there are as wide as the one that sparked the deadliest conflict in American history.
The pro-Democratic town is against the planned arrival of members from the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. The small white supremacist organization hails from North Carolina and has come to support the memory of Gen. Lee by protesting the removal of his statue.
Lee is hailed as a hero by most of the South having refused a commission in the Union Army to fight for his native Virginia and the South. Lee repeatedly repelled numerically superior Union Armies outmaneuvering famous Generals before meeting his match in Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.
Despite his defeat in the war and the dissolution of the Confederacy, Lee is still a respected figure in the South and many in the North. His skills as a general are well known among the military and his contribution to the South’s history has been tremendous.
This is why many Americans, even those who do not consider themselves white supremacists, support keeping his statue. Of course there will always be groups who will protest the removal of Confederate monuments who see them as part of their racist heritage.
There is a chance that the members of the KKK will resort to violence should it suit them. The Washington Times reported that klansmen will come to the march armed and will defend themselves if threatened.
Nevertheless, there will also be groups who will hold prayers and peaceful meetings to show their rejection of racial intolerance. At a time where political stance is enough to get beat up or worse, such peaceful events are becoming harder and harder to come by.
There is still no detail regarding how many members of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan will attend the march. Turn out could amount to just dozens unless other white supremacist groups join the march.
Due to the rising tension, the Charlottesville police department has arranged a large security detail to keep the peace. The department, run by a black man, appears to have no qualms with guarding people who are members of the group.
If all goes well, the members of the KKK will have their voices heard. However, given the current political climate and the amount of attention that was given to the event confrontations are very likely to occur at during the march.
[Featured Image by John Bazemore/AP Images]