Saturday, August 12, 2017

Charlottesville, Virginia Protests

Charlottesville is an independent city in the county of Albemarle in the state of Virginia in the United States of America.  It is the commercial center of Albemarle County, and is home to the University of Virginia, founded by Thomas Jefferson.  The city is rather small, and sits at the "gateway" to the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah River Valley.  It is 71 miles from the capital of Virginia, Richmond, and when Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe were the Governors of Virginia, they each commuted from their homes near Charlottesville.  Charlottesville was formed in the year 1762, and the city was named after Charlotte, the Queen Consort of King George III.
    I was born in Virginia, and even though my family moved around quite a bit, since my father was in the US Navy for 22 years, I always considered myself a Virginian.  My mother was born in Virginia, and I can trace her family ancestors in Virginia back to the late 1500s.  Dad's family, on the other hand, were farmers; first they stayed near the northeast coast, and then they spread inland until they reached the Indian Territories, the Cimarron Strip, of Oklahoma.  I am very proud to be from the Eastern Shore of Virginia - from the tidal islands in the Atlantic Ocean on the DelMarVa peninsula.  (DelMarVa?  It's a combination of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia - and we say that we are "Delmarvelous!" The land is east of the great Chesapeake Bay, and one of my favorite recent bumper-stickers read, "There is no intelligent life west of the Chesapeake" - and that was specifically aimed at Washington, D. C.)
    Today, I am shaken in my belief that being a Virginian is good.  I was raised to expect, accept, and love diversity in all things - people, beliefs, habits, and ways of life.  The one thing I was brought up to dislike, and disrespect, was prejudice against any one thing or person.  I was taught to learn as much as I could about my own differences from others, and to always respect their beliefs - unless their beliefs were damaging to other people.  Accept, learn, and grow, I was told.
    I also grew up in the Southern states of the US - Virginia, Tennessee, Texas, and Florida.  I grew up with segregated schools, which my parents deplored - until 1970, when Florida schools were forced to integrate.  I had no problem with that - I had gone to mixed-race churches most of my life, and half of my friends, away from school, were African-American.  We lived on the poor white side of town... Big deal.  My high school class graduated 398 students -  150 were white, 5 were South American, and the rest were African-American.  I was, and am, proud to have been in the second graduating class from Eastside High School.  We had great teachers and a great curriculum.
   Back to Charlottesville, Virginia....  The latest Census results are 7 years old: the city itself had 43,475 residents living in 17,778 house holds, and with 7,518 designated families.  Of these residents, 69.1 % are white; 19.4 % are African-American; 6.4 % are Asian; 5.1 % are Hispanic; 3 % are of 2 or more mixed races; 0.3 % are Native American; and 1.8 % are "other" races.  This does not count students at the University of Virginia.  There are currently 16,736 undergraduate students enrolled at UVa, and 7,147 graduate students.
     Today there was death and destruction in Charlottesville.  Early this year, the City Council voted 3 to 2 to remove a statue of General Robert E. Lee, a Virginian who commanded the Confederate States Army and who then retired to run the Virginia Military Institute, after the resounding loss of the Civil War in these United States. The Lee statue has stood for many years in what was originally named Lee Park.  The name was changed, some years ago, to Emancipation Park.  The removal is scheduled for this autumn.
     A couple of months back, a permit for a rally for today's date was approved.  The rally was for white nationalists to protest the removal of the Robert E Lee statue, and was called "Unite the Right."  They were joined by openly armed nationalist militias and the Ku Klux Klan today.  Last night, hundreds of nationalists marched through the University of Virginia campus, stopping at the foot of the Thomas Jefferson statue, chanting, "You will not replace us!"  More than 20 people were injured in scuffles during the night.  Last night and today, there were also a lot of anti-Jewish chants and baiting of people who looked Semitic.
   Today, while the Unite the Right groups were gathering at Emancipation Park, hundreds of counter protesters were peacefully marching less than 700 feet away.  A 20-year-old man named Alex Fields, from Ohio, drove his 2010 gray Dodge Challenger into the peacefully marching crowd at a high rate of speed.  He then put the car into reverse and proceeded to strike more people.  A 32-year-old woman was killed, 5 people are in critical condition, and another 15 are being treated for injuries caused by the motorist. (Who was captured and arrested.) Another 20 people have been injured in clashes between the two groups.
    The rally at Emancipation Park was scheduled to start at 12 noon.  At 11:40, the Mayor of Charlottesville and the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia declared a State of Emergency, and told everyone to go home.  An injunction against the rally had been signed by a judge at 10 a.m., following the night before's damages and fighting.
    Two hours later, a Bell helicopter crashed with two Virginia State Troopers aboard.  Both were killed.  So a peaceful rally for "Unite the Right" ended with 3 deaths, 5 people in critical condition, and more than 60 other injuries.
   And what did that pompous orange-faced bleach-blond Pricktator say?  That he condemns "the hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides" in Charlottesville.   The man is a moron who delights in stirring up trouble - and his pals Steve Bannon, David Duke, and Richard Spencer, a white nationalist leader, help him do it.  -  Where was darling Jared Kushner during all of this?    This administration is totally rotten throughout.

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