The Klan announced their decision to hold a victory parade since the day after the election. We don’t find it necessary to drill down the obvious political parallels or at least affinities shared by Trump and the Klan and the fear of impending white supremacist legislation. What we have personally found most immediately alarming is the changes in the behavior and ethos surrounding white supremacists. They perceive their platform as no longer shameful and feel comfortable having a parade in celebration of this fact. Amanda Barker, who is identified on the KKK’s website as an “imperial kommander” and is married to Chris Barker, who founded the group, said the car parade would be a celebration of President-Elect Donald Trump’s victory.
“We actually kind of have the same views,” Barker said. “Actually a lot of white Americans actually felt the same way, especially about the wall, immigration and the terrorism coming here. I think Donald Trump is going to do some really good things and turn this country around.”
Defining the new narratives of antifascist resistance is crucial – that is why shutting this down is more important than ever in the recent past.
For weeks, no more news had been released or revealed from the Loyal White Knights (the chapter of the KKK who live in Central NC), as covertly, people worked hard to gather intelligence. Regardless, antifascists began organizing in preparation to mobilize for that day and were ready to travel to the location whenever it was revealed. As the day drew nearer with still no information, some groups such as the Durham chapter of the IWW and the ‘Triangle May Day Coalition’ decided to organize rallies in Raleigh and Durham to show up and show force in the face of these threats regardless if the Klan was going to show or not. At 7pm on the night before, the anticipation broke and this article began circulating amongst many of the organizing networks, and people soon decided to meet up at the Piedmont Triad Visitors center off Rt. 29 the next morning.
Another dope banner at the anti-KKK protest in #Pelham, NC earlier today. Some 150 people ran the Klan out of their own parade. pic.twitter.com/M6WMcQ3CUH
— anastasia kārkliņa gabriel, PhD (@mzfayya) December 3, 2016
At about 9am on Saturday, Dec. 3, a steady stream of cars filled the visitor center’s parking lot, as many tourists and locals alike looked on in marked confusion. About 100 antifa assembled there, some armed with baseball bats and some with signs and banners that read ‘Fags & Dykes Against White Knights’ and ‘John Brown Lives! Smash White Supremacy.’ While two Sheriff’s deputies looked on from across the parking lot, the growing black bloc set about the business of establishing firm boundaries with press, both independent and mainstream. Scouts were sent out to recon, as word came in that the Klan been spotted at a nearby church. Pelham being extremely small and rural, hardly a town to speak of, it was soon clarified that it was actually a separate contingent of antifa. This seems to be less out of the ordinary than we would hope, but we should recognize that most of America is only beginning to better familiarize themselves with either faction involved that day. In fact, one of the first questions any of the independent journalists asked of the black bloc was, “So, are you guys with the KKK?”
From the KKK counter-protest in #Pelham, NC today (via @Fadelll) pic.twitter.com/zrUyzPE8Gd
— Yes, You're Racist (@YesYoureRacist) December 3, 2016
Once it seemed as though all parties were accounted for – antifa groups came out from at least 4 different states – the contingent decided to relocate across the highway to the nearby community center, a more logistically appropriate spot for any mobilization in Pelham. As numerous reports rolled in of the Klan postponing their meetup time, and no confirmation of their appearance, some unfamiliar actors began to show up. Some were suspicious of their being Klan scouts or cops – white men between 45-60 who wore nondescript clothing, save a Virginia Tech hoody and a “Desert Storm Vet” hat. As our contingent moved to surround and confront them, they were obviously on edge, and soon repositioned themselves around a car with “Blue Lives Matter” stickers on it. One had a radio, two had guns, and while some antifa took time to move around and note these details, it took a painfully long time for any to just verbally confront them. After someone plainly asked if they were cops or racists, two of them identified themselves as off-duty police hired by CNN as security, and a third as a bail bondsman – the fourth man in question actually being a CNN camera person. More security began showing up, including the firm ESG, hired by Al-Jazeera, who were easily distinguishable in their more paramilitary garb.
Still no word of the Klan, and an increasingly annoying media presence, prompted the group to take a stroll to let off some steam, build cohesion, and possibly draw out any Klan in the area. The bloc started marching around 11am, and arrived at the Pelham United Methodist Church about fifteen minutes later, where some deputies rolled up hot on the scene. Some of the group had moved on to the church lawn to rally again, but as the authorities attempted to compel us out of the road under threat of arrest, we quickly closed ranks and moved along. The most energetic of the deputies kicked the asphalt and yelled “Dammit!” as we ignored his commands. As we arrived back at the community center just before noon, we received word that the Klan was in Danville, just 20 minutes north of Pelham across state lines and into Virginia. Without hesitation the bloc immediately all jumped in their cars to meet at the Sutherlin Mansion, the “Last Confederate Capital” and a memorial and common meeting place for pro-Confederate types. rolled up on around 6-10 people with Confederate flags and got into a verbal confrontation. The flag-wielding buffoons immediately jumped in their trucks and fled the scene. There were failed attempts to tail them by scouts and everyone was left wondering what to do next. We would later be told that these were members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, who meet there most Saturdays. Many SCV members having been documented to be members of hate groups such as the KKK or League of the South, and others similarly affiliated, we would assert that they are deserving of no less suspicion, and no more respect.
Waiting for the Klan in Pelham, NC.
Destroy the KKK, smash white supremacy! #OrganizeTheSouth pic.twitter.com/fdasUvJRuh
— anastasia kārkliņa gabriel, PhD (@mzfayya) December 3, 2016
Some information was dispersed that they were seen with police escorts at the original Visitors center, and the barrage of antifascists showed up and milled around the center. This return to the original meeting point was the third relocation of the group. This was annoying, but understandable due to the amount of last minute information we were receiving. It is unclear the amount of intentionality of the side of the Klan, but it seems a good tactic to keep us in the dark. It may also be worth reflecting on the dynamics of assumption involved in identifying these supposed Klan affiliates; where any working-class or middle-aged white rural person is suspect, and there is an anticipation of confrontation.
A counter protest to the KKK parade & rally happening in our state today #notmyNC pic.twitter.com/0y1cKyg44Q
— Katie S (@katieleed) December 3, 2016
But something I found to be very compelling and inspiring was the amount of group cohesion and general DOWN AS FUCK-NESS of all of the people involved. We did not lose numbers or energy with each changing destination. The roughly 100 folks stayed together for over six hours, and that is notable. The absence of “march marshals” and “peace police” added to success and built trust between all involved. While the last-minute information of the White Knights’ plan had been shared amongst all who were organizing across the state, only those who were ready and willing to confront white supremacy mobilized to the epicenter of conflict. Meanwhile, liberal-progressive types stayed in Raleigh and other cities and ‘held space’ and chanted “#LoveTrumpsHate” in a vacuum rather than aiming for some show of solidarity.
Anti KKK protesters heading to the #Pelham community center pic.twitter.com/aWMmr46uXr
— araceli cruz (@chelipj) December 3, 2016
Finally, there was a proposal to show up back in Danville at 2pm on Main Street, to face the Klan whether they showed or not. We showed up, with much public announcement beforehand, and still they were nowhere to be seen. We took the streets and were immediately tailed by the clearly overwhelmed local police. They flashed lights, sirens and called for dispersal with threats of immediate arrest if we did not clear the roadway, as some state police showed up for a routine damage-control blocking of intersections. People responded by dancing to their sirens and dismissing them with a wave of the hand, others yelling more and more loudly “Who Keeps Us Safe? We Keep Us Safe!”, “Cops and Klan Go Hand in Hand!!!”, and “Whose Streets? Our Streets!” People did not succumb to police intimidation and group solidarity grew, as more and more locals joined in with their children to a cadence of “Black Lives Matter!” and “No Hate! No Fear! KKK Aren’t Welcome Here!” The group marched for about an hour throughout the downtown area and surrounding neighborhoods before returning to the starting point.
Soooo….the KKK stabbed each other and that's why their parade wasn't held as originally planned…https://t.co/2EdlRZRXqz
— ThisBarbara (@ThisBarbara) December 4, 2016
Everyone left the march feeling victorious and for having shut down the Klan’s parade with no arrests, and word was spread that the Loyal White Knights publicly cancelled their parade on Twitter. Antifa from across the region went back to the ‘Last Confederate Capital’ memorial and took photos to signal that while a new regime may have installed itself, the glory and sanctity of its founding institutions will continue to falter under a growing people’s power.
During the march many of us received word about the warehouse fire in Oakland. We lost many comrades to that fire particularly from the queer and trans community. Whether we knew anyone from this personally, this terrible and senseless tragedy is directly related to our struggle for liberatory freedom and safety of everyone that white heteronormative supremacy marginalizes, murders, and endangers. The struggle against fascism and white supremacy must be intersectional, the struggle against fascism must be queer, must be trans, must be black and brown. And our hearts deeply mourn this loss.
Simultaneously, the Klan had retreated to Roxboro, a small town about an hour away, for a quick drive-through motorcade with no on-lookers. As to no surprise, the state police were aware of and helped to stop traffic for the parade. It is unfortunate that they seemed to have the “last word,” but no reason to call the day’s efforts a failure, for a multitude of reasons. Namely, that their own procession was forced into seclusion for six hours only to culminate in a random, isolated appearance, despite a Klan spokesman having asserted that the parade would be public and accessible.
The regional solidarity and unwavering group morale being another bolster to the day, the fact that the antifa contingent marched on the Klan’s own turf is actually a pretty significant diss. No less, we held two marches in two different places, in spite of all attempts by the state to contain us, with absolutely no need or want of their assistance. Another, perhaps subconscious dynamic, is the concept of antifa and other black-bloc manifestations as a defensive force, that in a more ideal scenario would be present to thwart the Klan at every turn. This can cause some to feel a sense of loss in the situation, but draws from a colonial white-savior logic that we should abandon. The reality is that the same power and potential that this day’s group drew from is something prolific, that more communities must tap into to protect themselves, and eventually move from a defensive position, to an offensive against the foot soldiers of white supremacy. That said, we can certainly count December 3rd as an example of that progression.
Later that evening, there was some sort of internal conflict that led two Klansmen to stab their ‘brother,’ Richard Dillon who was at the North Carolina home of Christopher Barker (the group’s founder and imperial wizard) for a meeting when Barker and William Hagen (leader of the KKK chapter in California) allegedly stabbed him repeatedly. Hagen was charged with one felony count of “Assault with a Deadly Weapon with Intent to Kill Inflicting Serious Injury.” Barker was charged with one felony count of aiding and abetting Hagen’s assault. Hagen is in custody on $350,000 bond, and Barker is in on $200,000 bond. They are both expected to appear in Caswell County District Court on December 7.
This event is both cause for comic celebration and for internal reflection. The leader of the Imperial White Knights turned a blade against their own and ‘did the job for us.’ But while they now have criminal court cases and are held in police custody which may impede their success and ability to organize, law enforcement and the ‘justice system’ should not be relied upon as the solution to white supremacy. This altercation also shows how dangerous the Klan can be, and to not take anti-fascist organizing lightly. There was someone spotted taking pictures of people protesting, no doubt to be used to identify people online to be later targeted. Attempts at counterintelligence appear often at these kinds of events. If you are involved or are seriously considering being involved in anti-fascist organizing it is important to protect your identity and practice good security culture, before, during, and after these types of actions. Other types of self-defense may be necessary such as light weight armour to protect against stabbings. While firearms largely haven’t been used in demonstrations as of yet, white reactionaries are wearing them out more often, and it seems that many standing in opposition are taking note, such as the Red Guards in Austin, TX. The growing number of chapters of Redneck Revolt are also doing good work around firearms training, education, and counter-recruitment. The presence of firearms was certainly on our minds in Pelham which is just 30 minutes north of where the Greensboro Massacre occurred in 1979.
#USA: Some antifascists from North Carolina who stopped the KKK parade this weekend. Unity is strength. Join your local #antifa. Solidarity! pic.twitter.com/iQ1VHd72Tw
— ѕyndιcalιѕт (@syndicalisms) December 5, 2016