For 40 years I did not attend any type of public gathering for a cause…. No protests, no vigils, no walks. This year I am on number 3. The Women’s March in D.C. will likely never by topped. What an amazing experience. I then stood with other protesters in the snow at GR Ford Airport to protest the Muslim Travel Ban. Immigration is very important to me and I was proud to stand there with my sign (except I had a word spelled wrong on it…shame on me). Last night I decided to “Stand with Solidarity” in support of Charlottesville. I hemmed and hawed about going, but ultimately met up with a friend as we both came to the conclusion that we have to stand for equality. We cannot allow White Supremacy to be tolerated.
We strolled into Rosa Park Circle with other “standers” wearing black. There were signs and flags and a comforting police presence. There were a lot of white people. There were inspiring speakers who challenged us to keep the conversation going. The first speaker started by saying “We are standing on stolen ground”. Which is such a hard truth. There were speakers who talked about love. In fact the overwhelming message was this: We will not tolerate hate and to combat it, we will love. But as it is said, actions speak louder that words.
There were two men wandering around, both in full camo, both visibly wearing guns. Now I am 100% not cool with that. Guns, visible or not, should stay at home. Or even better, stay with the police. And I will be the first to tell you, no matter what these guy’s motivation was, I wanted them out.
But I was not at all happy about what happened. A speaker decided to vote if these guys should leave. Then people started screaming about these guys leaving. Then people surrounded them and screamed and chanted at them to leave. Literally seconds after preaching love, people started to hate.
I wanted these guys gone. Their agenda was not white supremacy, but it was also not Standing in Solidarity. Not the time. Not the place. But a perfect test to those of us who showed up and wanted to send a message to Charlottesville, to White Supremacists, to those who don’t see racism alive and well in this community. And we failed the test. We changed the agenda. We made it about something else completely.
I marched. I walked and contemplated the horror of Charlottesville. But I was dismayed. I lost my zest and passion for what I was marching for. My hope was to stand with Charlottesville. Show them the support from our community. Let them know we are watching, paying attention. Let them know that we do not tolerate hate. And that message was drowned out. Because, you guessed it, hate.