Charlottesville City Council, Mayor Respond to Weekend Rally: "We Have Work to Do"

May 16, 2017

Charlottesville Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy told attendees at Monday evening's Council meeting that he was encouraged by Sunday's rally in response to the white nationalist gathering the night before, but more is needed.
Credit Jordy Yager

Charlottesville City Council on Monday evening expressed outrage at a white nationalist rally over the weekend that received international attention.

The torch-lit rally centered around the downtown statue of Robert E. Lee, which councilors voted earlier this year to remove. In response, a second rally was held Sunday by activists vying for the statue’s removal.

But Councilor Kristin Szakos stressed that the racism at the white nationalist rally did not just arise with the debate over the statue.

About 80 people attended Monday evening's City Council meeting in Charlottesville, just 48 hours after a group of about 100 white nationalists descended on the city with lit torches to speak out against the proposed removal of the Robert E. Lee statue downtown.
Credit Jordy Yager

“Charlottesville is not yet the great beacon of equity and welcome that we aspire to be,” said Szakos. “We have a lot of work left to do to counter generations of racial and economic inequality and injustice that have kept people from realizing the full potential of this community.”

Related: Corey Stewart Denounces His Opponents, Not White Nationalist Rally

Councilor and Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy, who was at Sunday’s rally, agreed, saying that while Charlottesville prides itself on being a liberal Capital of the Resistance, real change is harder to come by.

“Whenever we look to speak for equity, and when people look to speak, not for equality, but for equity, it is often times met with what we proclaim ourselves to be: resistance,” said Bellamy. 

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From the AP:

Meanwhile, Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer is trolling the trolls after he lashed out at torch-toting white nationalists who protested in his city.

Signer has become the target of hate-filled, anti-Semitic messages from anonymous Twitter trolls after condemning a weekend protest over the planned removal of a Confederate monument.

 

The Democratic mayor said in an interview with the Associated Press Monday that he doesn't intend to make a habit out of responding to online trolls. But after white nationalists showed up burning torches in his city, he wants to show that neither he nor his community will be silenced.

"It's always a difficult balancing act for public officials about how much oxygen to give the alt-right, which depends on publicity to survive," Signer said, referring to the fringe movement that blends racism, white nationalism, anti-Semitism and anti-immigrant ideas.

Among those at the protest over the Gen. Robert E. Lee statue Saturday was Richard Spencer, who popularized the term "alt-right." After President Donald Trump's election, Spencer hosted a conference in Washington where he shouted "Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!" and the audience responded with Nazi salutes.

Spencer told The Associated Press on Monday that "The mayor is just clearly a total dork."