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NOLA stands in solidarity with Charlottesville and continues its own fight for justice

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On Saturday, Aug. 20, Take ‘Em Down Nola and People’s Assembly held a rally in solidarity with Charlottesville after a man drove his car into a crowd of anti-racist counter-protesters, killing one, Heather Heyer, and injuring dozens more.

 Much like those in New Orleans, the counter-protesters were standing against racism and for the removal of a statue of Confederate Icon General Robert E. Lee.

After many similar protests in New Orleans, on May 19, the Statue of Robert E. Lee was removed from Lee Circle as part of four total statues taken down. However, hundreds of people gathered at Congo Square on Saturday to make it known that this action is not enough.

Angela Kinlaw of Take ‘Em Down Nola said, “Even though New Orleans has been able to take down four of the racist symbols, and that’s a good thing, the reality is that we have hundreds of them all around this city. It’s imperative that we understand how pervasive it is and how much this work is important. We’re glad to see four of them come down but it’s not enough.”

She continued, “What you’re witnessing is not the symbol to white supremacy taking so long to come down, you’re watching this system to white supremacy at work and the only way it gets [counteracted] is by the people choosing to take a stand.”

The crowd clapped in agreement.

Protester Catherine Holmes said, “I’m going to come and march and chant [because] It’s just a matter of normal people one at a time helping change society. Personally, I feel a responsibility and a duty because white people created this problem and we need to solve it. We need to dismantle it. It’s incumbent upon us to be part of that solution and it’s appalling that it hasn’t happened a hundred years ago.”

She continued, “I think that [Charlottesville] was a wake-up call that I had been living under a rock in terms of how powerful the white supremacy movement still is in America. You know that prejudice exists and it’s systemic, but seeing people with torches and chanting Nazi slogans, I just felt like this is not my country. This is just wrong.”

Many protesters shared similar sentiment. 

UNO Political Science major junior Michael Esealuka, also in attendance at the protest, said, “Fascism is growing in this country. It’s real. It’s here. They’ve been around for a long time, but they feel legitimate now and they feel comfortable marching in our streets. … They’ve got white supremacists in the White House. They’ve got Trump, Sebastian Gorka, Stephen Miller, and until recently, [Stephen] Bannon. So right now what we need is a united front of … all working-class people of all races, genders and religions to take a stand in the streets against fascism and do something about it.”

Even though this particular incident didn’t take place in the streets of New Orleans, it didn’t stop the protesters from gathering and marching in the name of justice.

Holmes said, “It’s not limited to one city. The attitudes and beliefs on both sides exist in every city in this country. I think it’s important for everyone to start drawing their lines in the sand and make themselves heard. And in terms of re-educating people in an attempt to solve the problem, we all have to collectively, as a nation, formally acknowledge that this is a very real problem and you can’t bury your head in the sand just because it’s not happening on your street. That’s how complacency happens and that’s how things grow out of control.”

With protests like this one, Take ‘Em Down Nola furthers their mission of racial justice everywhere.

Kinlaw said, “We want you all to be clear about Take ‘Em Down Nola. We believe and support the removal of all symbols to white supremacy as a very necessary part of the struggle towards racial and economic justice. It’s not one or the other, it’s both and all. It’s not enough to just talk about it, we have to be about it.”

The march ended at Jackson Square but the fight continues. To follow the progress and other events of Take ‘Em Down Nola, visit their website at www.takeemdownnola.org. 

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The student news site of the University of New Orleans
NOLA stands in solidarity with Charlottesville and continues its own fight for justice