Athens for Everyone stands with people of color, the Jewish community, LBGTQ people, and all targeted by neo-Nazis and white supremacists.
As we march in solidarity, mourn the dead and injured, and reflect on next actions, it is important to put recent events in Charlottesville into historical perspective. As many in the black community have said in response to events in Virginia, the white supremacist rally is a glaring reminder of the brutality of long-standing racialized state and economic violence. As Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter wrote, “Let’s call this exactly what it is…white terrorism. Be clear–it ain’t ‘alt’ anything. It’s in the foundation of the US. In 2017.”
White terrorism and neo-fascism is not new to this country, and white supremacist groups have never been confined to any one region. The bigotry and hate that was previously hidden out of shame and fear of exposure has come out in the open after the election of Donald Trump. In Charlottesville, a white supremacist killed a counter-protester and wounded 19 others. This explosion of open bigotry and brutality should not be surprising to a country built on slavery and genocide. Trump’s initial equivocation has been seized, as intended, by neo-nazis as a tacit endorsement of their behavior and worldview. During the 2016 campaign we saw candidate Trump encouraging physical violence at his rallies and promising structural violence against minority groups with his talk of walls, bans, and “America First” policies. Barely a month into the administration, he directed the FBI to cut a program dedicated to surveilling white nationalist organizations in order to focus on his racist war on Islam. This same FBI—an agency with its own history of violence against activists, especially people of color—had found an alarming infiltration of law enforcement groups by white supremacists. This trend has been known by the government since at least 2009, when a report by the DHS described a resurgence in right-wing extremism.
Only a few months ago, state legislators in North Carolina and other states approved measures to legalize vehicular assaults on protesters blocking traffic. Bills intended to criminalize protest actions have also passed in states, including here in Georgia with SB1/HB452 and SB160, (which were supported unanimously by the Athens’ GOP delegation in the General Assembly) These same lawmakers aim to restrict our collective ability to work within the system with their anti-democratic efforts of voter suppression and gerrymandering—thinly guised attempts to disenfranchise people of color.
In these times, we must stand together. Our solidarity is our strength, and together we will overcome not only the barbarism of white supremacists but government-sanctioned violence and economic inequality that disproportionately affects African Americans and other people of color. As Angela Davis writes in her book Freedom in a Constant Struggle, “It is in collectivities that we find reservoirs of hope and optimism.”
Athens for Everyone pledges to stand with those who fight fascism and bigotry. We stand against racism, antisemitism, xenophobia homophobia and all forms of bigotry.
Athens for Everyone
August 17, 2017