Police officers separated pro- and anti-Confederate demonstrators with a barricade at the Peace and Justice Plaza during a protest on Saturday morning.
No arrests were made at the Peace and Justice Plaza during the demonstrations. Anti-Confederates protested a police officer not arresting a pro-Confederate man with a gun in his holster. The officer then shook a different Confederate supporter's hand.
“The police always let the Confederates walk away, because they believe that anti-racists chanting are a threat, as opposed to violent racists who bring guns,” Lindsay Ayling, one of the organizers of the anti-Confederate protest, said.
Confederate supporters from the steps outside the post office yelled chants including “God bless Robert E. Lee” and “God bless Dixie.” Anti-Confederate demonstrators countered with “Go home, racists,” “Go back to Virginia” and “Nat Turner, John Brown, anti-racists run this town.”
Lance Spivey, an active pro-Confederate demonstrator and the man who brought a pistol onto campus in March, said the anti-Confederate demonstrators started “pushing us around” during a rally. He said the rally may have been more peaceful had the police arrived at the Peace and Justice Plaza earlier.
“Well, considering we had a permit, they should’ve been here beforehand,” Spivey said. “The barricade should’ve been out here, and they should’ve had more police officers out here beforehand. If they had, what happened would not happen.”
Nancy Rushton McCorkle, one of the two individuals who was arrested on March 31 for vandalizing the Unsung Founders Memorial, was also present at the demonstration.
“We’re not blaming the cops,” McCorkle said. “We’re blaming these lawless people. These people have no morals or any value of anything.”
Beginning at 10:30 a.m., anti-Confederate demonstrators set up an event called the “Nazis Suck Potluck 2” on McCorkle Place to oppose the planned pro-Confederate protest on Franklin Street.
The group set up tables of food and signs with slogans such as “No KKKops on Campus” and “UNC Against Fascism,” along with a miniature cardboard guillotine that said “Racist Statues Get the Blade.” The anti-Confederate demonstrators also placed small flags around McCorkle Place with information about police brutality.
“Some flags mark spots where police have expressed violence towards students,” Heather Redding said. “There are some with facts about police brutality and there are some with names of people of color killed by police in North Carolina. We want to call attention to police militarization on campus and elsewhere.”
Ayling, who helped set up the potluck, said it's important for anti-Confederates to oppose pro-Confederates whenever they demonstrate to show them they are not welcome in Chapel Hill.
“We think it’s important to show that we’re not intimidated by racists, and we don’t accept them in our community, so whenever white supremacists come to Chapel Hill, we have to tell them they’re not welcome here,” Ayling said. “Also, we’re not afraid of them and we oppose racism.”
The Confederate demonstrators arrived at the Peace and Justice Plaza at about 11:15 a.m., holding Confederate and American flags alongside posters with slogans including “Warning: Leave Southern Monuments Alone.”
Anti-Confederate demonstrators came from McCorkle Place to hold banners saying “Abolish campus cops,” “Tar Heels tore it” and more in front of the Confederate signs. Ayling said one purpose of holding banners in front of the Confederates was to make the community feel less intimidated by their presence.
“When I hold banners in front of white supremacists, like hold anti-racist banners, sometimes people will stop and say ‘Thank you for doing that,’ and so I can tell that people in the community appreciate — if there’s going to be a racist in town — they appreciate that anti-racists are also willing to stand up to them and that they’re not alone,” Ayling said.
Police brutality was a major theme of the anti-Confederate demonstration, culminating in groups of people shouting “More dead cops” and “No cops, no KKK, no fascist USA.” People also spoke to police officers on the outskirts of the protest about police corruption.
Toward the end of the demonstration, Ayling spoke to the crowd through a megaphone about Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz’s email to students about Saturday’s demonstration, which she said portrayed the anti-Confederate potluck as a dangerous event and discouraged students from attending.
“Given the events over this past academic year, we are mindful that the atmosphere is highly charged, and protests that begin peacefully do not always remain that way,” part of Guskiewicz’s email said. “If you choose to attend the events on Saturday, please take precautions to keep yourselves safe.”
Ayling said Guskiewicz condemned the vandalism of the Unsung Founders Memorial in an email but has not taken action against the racist activity.
“I think Guskiewicz, if he actually opposes racism and he opposes the desecration of Unsung Founders Memorial, he should be doing something to stand up to the people who did that,” Ayling said. “He should be taking action. But he insists on portraying the only people who do take action against these groups as troublemakers or criminals.”
The pro-Confederate demonstrators left the Peace and Justice Plaza around 1:45 p.m. as anti-Confederate demonstrators chanted “Fascists go home,” followed by “Cops and Klan go hand in hand.”
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