On August 13, between 5-7,000 people marched through the heart of the nation’s capital, from the White House to Judiciary Square. They expressed their solidarity with the anti-fascist resisters in Charlottesville, Virginia, honored the memory of slain anti-fascist protester Heather Heyer and pledged to continue the fight.
The hastily-organized event was a candlelight vigil, anti-hate rally and militant anti-racist action. The sacrifice of Heather Heyer and the injury of 19 others when a fascist drove his car at high-speed into a crowd of anti-fascist resisters the day before took center-stage. Protesters carried posters of Heyer and copies of her final Facebook post, which read “If you’re not outraged you’re not paying attention.” Thousands of Washingtonians are paying attention now, and they are outraged.
The Party for Socialism and Liberation joined with a number of groups from the local Movement for Black Lives including Stop Police Terror Project, Standing Up for Racial Justice DC and Black Lives Matter-DC. After a number of speeches, the crowd proceeded to march approximately 15 blocks east. The march went down Pennsylvania Avenue past the Trump International Hotel to express some choice sentiments to the Hater-in-Chief and past the FBI Building to express their outrage at the Bureau’s refusal to treat the attack in Charlottesville as terrorism or the various Neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups as terrorist organizations. Ultimately the march arrived at Judiciary Square and the Headquarters of the DC Metropolitan Police Department, in front of which stands the only Confederate monument in Washington, D.C.
The statue, which protesters scaled and surrounded, commemorates Brigadier General Albert Pike, a Massachusetts man who, as Eugene Puryear of PSL put it in an impassioned speech, “loved slavery so much that he left Massachusetts and moved to the South, left the Whigs…and the Know-Nothings because they weren’t pro-slavery enough for him.”
Sean Blackmon spoke for the Stop Police Terror Project. He addressed the fear that certainly lurked in everyone’s hearts, and of the need to overcome it, because giving in to fear is exactly what the fascists are counting on people to do.
Twice during the protest action the crowd observed moments of silence for the injured and fallen. However these were only brief interludes in what was otherwise a loud, angry, and energetic event. At one point Puryear led the crowd in a chant of the name of his hometown: “Charlottesville! Charlottesville! Charlottesville!” All the evening’s speakers reminded the crowd of the need to continue the struggle, to settle in for the long haul, and not to let the angry passion of the moment fade into indifference and feelings of powerlessness.
Since the media charade about Russian influence began, resistance to the Trump Agenda has slackened as people increasingly choose to stay home and watch the daily drama play out on the news. But if the reactions to the events in Charlottesville here and elsewhere are any indication, the fire of resistance from the early months of the Trump presidency may have been rekindled.