This Saturday, members of the so-called “Alt Right” will descend on Charlottesville to bring attention to their vision of white nationalism, racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and supposed cultural superiority. Though there has been inflammatory rhetoric on social media, few know exactly how many will actually appear or how they plan to behave. But one thing is clear—the nation will be watching us, and our responsibility to speak truth and love to their messages of hate and division is stronger than ever before. That means so many things. It means nonviolence if confronted with violence or efforts to incite violence. It means respect for police who are just trying to do their jobs and protect citizens exercising their rights. It means unity in the face of division. It means confronting, in a pastoral way, those whose views differ from ours and who would impose their values and worldview on us. And it means joining and supporting our friends and neighbors in a disciplined, respectful, nonviolent response.
Controlling the Narrative
These far-right groups would like nothing more than for us to show disunity, disrespect, and violence; it feeds their narrative that the United States has lost its way, that they are the victims, and we need to return to old and outmoded ways of doing things. Our power lies in our ability to control our own actions as we engage in large numbers. For those who plan to attend the rally, it is important to obtain training on how to conduct ourselves. This is serious business, and we should prepare so that we will be ready, just like the nonviolent warriors of decades past, to control the situation and the narrative for the benefit not just of the city we love, but the principles we embrace—love, diversity, respect.
I urge citizens to engage in the events leading up to August 12 (see list below), and to make a commitment to expand your involvement after that day. For those who are uncomfortable participating in rallies on the 12th, remember that you can canvass for the fall election, and make a powerful statement in that way as well. Whatever the form of your engagement on August 12th and beyond, we have a chance to show the nation and world what we are all about in this great city of Charlottesville.
PREPARATION FOR AUGUST 12
Monday, August 7 through Saturday, August 12:
The Charlottesville Clergy Collective will hold “walk the perimeter” prayer sessions at 6 am and noon each day at Emancipation Park.
Tuesday, August 8:
— 7:00 pm “Know The Process: Arrest/Court 101 – Charlottesville Procedures” presentation, hosted by Showing Up for Racial Justice. www.facebook.com/events/ 134568223805726
— 7:00 pm Prayer service at University Baptist Church, 1223 West Main Street, Charlottesville.
Wednesday, August 9:
— 7:00 pm Prayer service at Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church-Unitarian Universalist, 717 Rugby Road, Charlottesville.
Thursday, August 10:
— 6:30-8:30 pm “Non-Violent Direct Action Training” organized by Showing Up for Racial Justice. www.facebook.com/events/ 1794321673919104/
— 7:00 pm Prayer service at Westminster Presbyterian Church.
— 7:30 pm “The History of Race and Ethnicity in Charlottesville” presentation and discussion led by Charlottesville’s Office of Human Rights director Charlene Green, at Congregation Beth Israel, 301 East Jefferson Street.
Friday, August 11:
— 8:00 pm Congregate Charlottesville mass meeting. Guest speakers expected include Dr. Cornel West and Rev. Traci Blackmon. At St. Paul’s Memorial Church, 1700 University Avenue.
ACTION FOR DAY OF SATURDAY AUGUST 12:
— 6:00 am “Love Over Fear” sunrise service at First Baptist Church, 632 West Main Street.
— 8:00 am Charlottesville Clergy Collective gathers at Jefferson School City Center to march to McGuffey Park and First United Methodist Church.
— 9:00 am to 7:00 pm “People’s Action for Racial Justice” at McGuffey Park and Justice Park, sponsored by Together Cville and the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice. These will be spaces for teach-ins, gatherings, speeches, and respite for those who may go to counter-actions against the “Unite the Right” rally. www.facebook.com/events/ 1527709727296643
— 11:00 am to 2:00 pm Albemarle-Charlottesville NAACP direct advocacy training event, Burley Middle School, 901 Rose Hill Drive.
— 11:00 am to 7:00 pm “Art in Action” performances in opposition to hatred (local artists) at Champion Brewing, 324 6th Street SE. Hosted by Black Lives Matter-Charlottesville. www.facebook.com/events/ 159711177924136/
— 11:30 am to 5:30 pm First United Methodist Church will hold prayer activities.
[The “Unite the Right” rally group has a permit to be in McIntire Park (moved from Emancipation Park) from 12 noon to 5 pm.]
— 12 noon to 1:00 pm Prayer service at Unity of Charlottesville, 2825 Hydraulic Road.
— 12 noon to 5:00 pm Charlottesville Clergy Collective and Charlottesville Peace Initiative co-host alternative peace-building activities at Common Ground Healing Arts, Jefferson School City Center.
— 3:00 pm to 9:00 pm Back to School Block Party at Tonsler Park.