Community turns out for Charlottesville solidarity rally at Pack Square

Photo by Cindy Kunst

Several hundred people assembled at the Vance Monument in downtown Asheville on Sunday evening, Aug. 13, to express opposition to a white nationalist gathering that took place in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend. Three people died in Virginia, including 32-year-old Heather Heyer, who died after being struck by a car while taking part in a counterprotest; at least 19 others were injured. The driver of the car was later charged with second-degree murder.

The Asheville Solidarity with Charlottesville rally was scheduled at the Vance Monument in Pack Square by two different groups of organizers denouncing white supremacy. Fliers were circulated during the event demanding removal of the monument and describing Zebulon Vance as a slave owner and Confederate officer. Enslaved people were auctioned on the site of the monument, speakers told the crowd. Spontaneous chants of “Tear it down” broke out during the demonstration.

With no specific schedule for speakers or amplification for those who did speak, people took turns addressing the crowd, reading poetry, leading groups in song or trying to shout over the sound of drivers honking their approval. Attendees included parents with young children, religious leaders, people wearing Black Lives Matter shirts and military veterans. Familiar chants rang out, such as “Forward together, not one step back” and “No hate in the 828,” along with the singing of “We Shall Overcome” and “This Little Light of Mine.” Protesters carrying anti-fascist, or antifa, signs led chants of “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist U.S.A.”

Nicole Townsend spoke to the crowd of mostly white faces, saying she was glad to see them there, but Asheville’s black community needs more support. As a person of color, she said, “I am tired of white fragility and white fears. I am tired of white people thinking all we need is organic produce.” She pointed to difficulties that people of color have in making bail and asked why those in attendance weren’t also at recent City Council meetings when activists spoke out against a proposed $1 million increase in the Asheville Police Department budget.

Jerry Pinkham explained why he felt compelled to attend the vigil. “I think that we have to stand against the few people in this country that are white supremacists that are against everything that our nation has ever stood for,” he said. “They are not the true Americans; we are.”

As the evening progressed and night fell, many of the older attendees who had come for the peace vigil left the scene, and the crowd became restless. One man shouted that he was an immigrant who had been living and working in America for 28 years. He said protests and demonstrations were of little help to him and people like him. He urged people to get involved with their communities and find ways to help their neighbors instead of arguing with each other about how best to protest.

Some in the antifa contingent expressed frustration about the police presence, which had been requested by organizers of the peace vigil, chanting “Cops and the Klan go hand in hand.” Antifa demonstrators took up a position directly facing off with the police line. Others with the peace vigil took up space between the officers and the crowd. An older woman yelled, “Hate is not the new normal!” to which a young black-clad woman replied, “I hate Nazis!”

The shouting and chanting escalated for about half an hour until the crowd began marching in the street with a roar that echoed off the buildings as they waded through traffic and tourists up Patton Avenue to Pritchard Park, returning to the Vance Memorial after about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, pickup trucks sporting large American and Trump flags circled the block around the monument, gunning their engines through the intersection of Broadway and Patton Avenue.

Lead organizer Valerie Hartshorn with Indivisible Black Mountain said she planned the event to show solidarity with the city of Charlottesville. She expressed disappointment on her event’s Facebook page on Monday, saying, ”The antifa protesters disrupted what was supposed to be a peaceful vigil.”

Brie, who declined to give her last name, attended as an impartial and trained legal observer. “I don’t think it was very conducive at all to any change that’s going to occur anywhere — in Asheville, Virginia or the nation. I saw a lot of anarchists going after people who were quietly trying to protest and hold a vigil. It went from pretty chill and calm to a complete riot in our eyes. Some people are just ready for a fight, and that can spread quickly in a crowd like that.”

The event began around 7 p.m. and was slated to end at 8 p.m., but then stretched until almost 10 p.m., when a rainstorm and the closing of the park sent participants home.

On Monday, the Asheville Police Department requested public assistance in identifying a suspect involved in an assault of a WLOS News 13 reporter who had been livestreaming the protest on Facebook. Anyone with information on the identity of the suspect is asked to contact the Asheville Police Department at 828-252-1110 or Buncombe County Crime Stoppers at 828-255-5050.

Editor’s note: Xpress staff reporters Carolyn Morrisroe and Virginia Daffron contributed reporting to this story.

Slideshow of photos by Cindy Kunst

Slideshow of photos by Carolyn Morrisroe

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31 thoughts on “Community turns out for Charlottesville solidarity rally at Pack Square

  1. bsummers

    Important to note: the “assault” on the WLOS reporter appears to come down to one attendee pushing the reporter (not OK), and saying mean things to him. As I said: NOT OK, but the term “assault” is somewhat overblown, as was the Citizen-Times article saying that the reporter was “injured”. They’ve since changed that article, but not before one of the local usual suspects tweeted that “some angry progressive beat the crap out of him and he went to the hospital.”

    No one was “injured” last night, especially this reporter from WLOS. They would have justifiably been screaming that from the heavens today, and they are not.

    • Lulz

      If you’re having difficulty in Asheville is it because of Trump or the establishment? I know you leftist hate white men because for some odd reason you equate them standing up for themselves as racist but you don’t hold the whites in local office accountable at all.

      • bsummers

        I equate putting a pointy hood over your head and burning crosses as racist. I don’t know what any of the rest of what you said has to do with me.

        • Lulz

          LOL, because you are one with them. Again, if the people of Asheville are having difficulties making it, is it because of Trump or his supporters or the entrenched establishment? So the useful WHITE idiots protesting up at Pack Square are going to probably go back to their high dollar homes. The useful black fools to their boundaries where the whites, who stand with them today, feel much safer putting them.

    • The Real World

      Time to wake up, everybody! (Strange, I’ve been saying that for years now on this site and many of the snoozers are still asleep)

      DO NOT trust big media to provide honest, impartial and accurate reporting of these events (or most anything). As I’ve pointed out before, you need to dig deeper to get better info about what is actually happening. The last several years has been chock-full of staged protests and riots around the country heavily populated with paid “protesters” that are brought in by bus. Does CNN, Wash Post, NY Times tell you about that?

      Remember the “spontaneous”, ridiculous riots in Charlotte, NC last year? They were exactly what is described above. And it looks like that city is on the docket for more nasty, fake “protests” soon. Recruitment is occurring now. https://charlotte.craigslist.org/tfr/d/actors-and-photographers/6253305119.html

      Sure, Charlottesville, VA was an alt-right, white supremacy, nazi, kkk rally/protest. Yep, sure it was. Dig deeper. Good grief!

      • luther blissett

        This is what happens when “wake up sheeple” conspiracy-theorism becomes a reflex, a schtick.

        C’mon, edjumacate us which murky forces are behind next week’s eclipse! Is it George Soros? Is it aliens? Is it Garth Brooks? What are the astronomers hiding? Who’s paying them and their so-called “telescopes”? The big media are telling you not to look into the sun, but dig deeper and they’re getting paid by the Cardboard Glasses lobby. Stare at that ball of gas on Monday and discover the truth!

          • Huhsure

            You quote Firesign Theatre, you get five gold stars.

        • The Real World

          From linked article below: Maybe you’ve been driving through town recently and seen a crowd of protesters or excited fans, maybe even paparazzi – at least that’s what it looks like. There’s a chance that each of those enthusiastic individuals is being paid to be there.

          The writer Davy Rothbart knows this because he went undercover and got a job with Crowds on Demand, one of several companies that supplies fake crowds.

          More……“And what was the most interesting to me, Ari, was that all these people – me and others who had basically responded to a craigslist ad – adventurous videographers wanted – we had showed up to make 20 bucks an hour working as fake protesters.” http://www.npr.org/2016/06/09/481433870/sourcing-the-crowd-california-company-stages-phony-protests

          Like I said, this has been going on for YEARS and, yet, denial remains an astonishingly power force for those that don’t dwell in reality. It’s no wonder those nasty forces keep getting away with it….they have so many who cover for them. Which makes those denial people complicit in the deception. Nice.

          • bsummers

            You want us to think that Charlottesville didn’t really happen? That woman Heather Heyer didn’t really die? All of it? You want us to question whether any of it really happened? That’s despicable.

          • The Real World

            Omg…..lol….that’s what you deduce?!! It’s worse than I thought. There is no reasoning with “comprehension” like that.

            Do explain for people the contents of the NPR article. Next explain the Craigslist ad for paid crowds. And then, go ahead and illuminate us about the good intentions of these paid fakes being sourced to go on TV and convince the sheeple that their mind-controlled biases are “real”: https://charlottesville.craigslist.org/tfr/d/is-your-significant-other/6268602018.html

            We will wait…….

          • luther blissett

            The Real World is clearly part of the conspiracy to disguise what’s really happening for the thing that’s being called “the eclipse.” Who’s paying him? What murky motives is he hiding?

          • bsummers

            Try to have the courage to stand by your outrageous claims. “Sure, Charlottesville, VA was an alt-right, white supremacy, nazi, kkk rally/protest. Yep, sure it was,” is clearly meant to suggest that it wasn’t. To turn around in the very next post and deny it is a little bizarre. Something a corporate sockpuppet might do, for example, if their task was to sew confusion and discord on local discussion threads.

          • The Real World

            And you “comprehend” inaccurately yet again. It is a common, intentional and, now, predictable reaction.

            The arrogance of telling other people what they mean or intend is beyond the pale (and constitutes trolling). But, is par for the course because you can’t explain these things. Normally, you like to attack the messenger but are now flummoxed because NPR is a sacred cow.

            Most of these “protests” are a combination of peoples, objectives, agendas, etc. (A mind-blowing concept for an absolutist, I know.) The media will even feature “citizen reporters” now. I saw one interviewed with some sort of white powder smeared all over him which looked totally applied and was never explained. Oh but, he had all the “appropriate” info. It featured precisely into the narrative being instantly constructed. Another paid actor like NPR depicted.

            But, here more denial is put forth from the beholden acolytes and blind defenders.

          • luther blissett

            “here more denial is put forth from the beholden acolytes and blind defenders.”

            In case it wasn’t already clear, TRW is parroting Alex Jones, who thinks Sandy Hook was staged and was muttering again about paid protests, then staged an “attack” on himself yesterday in Seattle. There’s not much point engaging with people who selectively opt in to a world of alternative facts and convoluted theories, never citing their sources along the way, because if you try to follow them, they’ll just go even deeper down the rabbit hole.

            Neo-nazis and white supremacists are real, and killing people.

      • bsummers

        Sure, Charlottesville, VA was an alt-right, white supremacy, nazi, kkk rally/protest.Yep, sure it was.

        So you’re saying it wasn’t? All those people carrying torches and marching and chanting things like “Jews will not replace us!”, that was all staged? Golly! All those well-known alt-right, white supremacy, nazi, and KKK people who were interviewed there like David Duke, Richard Spencer, etc., those were all paid look-alikes? Golly! Somebody’s got to DO something!

        • The Real World

          Summers you miss so many valid points and ideas because you continually apply a litmus test of absoluteness to things. It’s your attempt to discredit; it fails and is an utterly irrational way to view just about anything.

          Shaking head……..

          • The Real World

            Hhmm, at 3AM “luther” is chiming in on a conversation about protests, paid actors pretending to be genuine participants and all the other phony goings-on of the last many years with a comment about the eclipse.

            Makes sense! Get some sleep, dude.

  2. luther blissett

    Was WLOS guy the one in the blue shirt? I saw him with his phone at arm’s length getting in people’s faces, especially ones who were more agitated and vocal. If he was live-streaming, that explains it. It’s a very different vibe than setting up a standard TV camera for footage, and entails making yourself part of the thing you’re covering. Still not okay to push, hassle or cuss him out.

    Cindy’s piece gets the mood — or, I suppose, the multiple moods — right. Kudos to her.

  3. Lulz

    LOL what I’m reading now is the young man in the car tried to escape violence of the left when the incident occurred. And if true, running over a mob to save oneself is perfectly acceptable. Again I don’t on w if it’s true or not but what we possibly have is an act of self defense.

    • bsummers

      LOL what you’re spreading now is despicable whitewashing of an alt-right act of terrorism. Everyone who witnessed what neo-nazi James Fields did (including all of us who watched all the various videos of the attack) knows it wasn’t self-defense. It was a deliberate act of murder.

      • Lulz

        LOL and yet Antifa is spreading flyers now calling for the death of the white race. Is that also fake?

        Here’s a hint, calling people racist or some other stupid label no longer works. Especially as some useful idiot Antifa fools decide to go and burn down someone’s house or business.

        • bsummers

          A) Nice changing of the subject away from your despicable whitewashing of a deliberate act of terror.

          B) I have no idea if that flyer rumor is any more true than your previous falsehoods.

          C) “Stupid labels” are only valid when applied by you apparently.

          BTW, I agree with the concept that we should get rid of white people – in the ‘Bulworthian’ sense, that is.
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfxL_wuYtSg

        • luther blissett

          1. As in school, please share your sources and background reading material.
          2. We’ll get to the theoretical antifa making theoretical genocide threats and committing imaginary damage after we’re done with the actual neo-nazis actually terrorizing a city and killing someone.

        • bsummers

          Oh, and the NC KKK apparently didn’t get the memo that they should call the murder of Heather Heyer “self defense”. Here’s the recording you get when you call Klan headquarters:

          “Nothing makes us more proud at the KKK than we see white patriots such as James Fields Jr, age 20, taking his car and running over nine communist anti-fascist, killing one (expletive)-lover named Heather Heyer,” the recorded message says. “James Fields hail victory. It’s men like you that have made the great white race strong and will be strong again.”
          ‘I’m glad that girl died’ during Virginia protest, says NC KKK leader
          http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article167303682.html

  4. bsummers

    One other thing – the Klan, the Nazis, etc. almost weren’t allowed into Charlottesville at all. The city tried to block their permit days in advance. Who came riding to their rescue? The frikkin’ ACLU, that’s who. Here’s a great read on why, and why we need to support the ACLU as they support us, no matter what our political stripe.

    https://theintercept.com/2017/08/13/the-misguided-attacks-on-aclu-for-defending-neo-nazis-free-speech-rights-in-charlottesville/

    I got a call from the ACLU today, asking me to re-up my membership. I’m low on funds, and so I said sorry – can’t do it. However, after reading this article, I’m going to call them back & send them some cash.

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