About 150 protesters gathered in downtown Charlottesville on Wednesday to counter what they expected to be a pro confederate rally to keep the city’s statue of Robert E. Lee in place. What they found, however, was slightly different. WMRA’s Jordy Yager has more.
Anticipating scores of Lee statue supporters, liberal activists and local religious leaders took to the park with signs and songs of protest.
City council voted earlier this year to remove the Lee statue, but a lawsuit is expected to tie the matter up in court until the fall. Several weeks ago about 200 white nationalists held a torch-lit rally opposing the statue’s removal. Since then, liberal activists have sought to counter any similar gatherings.
On Wednesday, however, the crowd was met not by hundreds of white nationalists, but by Kenneth Jackson and a half-dozen white supporters. Fifty-year old Jackson is African-American, running for City Council, and wants to keep the statue in place.
Standing about 50 feet away from the larger group of liberal activists, Jackson called for unity and criticized the hypocrisy he sees. At least 90 percent of the activists on Wednesday were white. Jackson said if they truly wanted racial justice, they’d spend their time and money differently. The protest, he said, was a distraction, a way for white liberals to feel good without addressing actual issues.
KENNETH JACKSON: You say you know me, you say you know my people, where are we? We’re not here because we’re worried about trying to feed our families. We’re worried about trying to find decent and affordable housing. But that’s the real issues. The issue’s not the statue, the issue is: this does not give us equality, this does not fix our problems, it’s not a solution to our problems.