How to Join the March to Confront White Supremacy's D.C. Takeover
The 10-day march from Charlottesville concluded in the nation's capital and organizers are now focused on the next phase of the campaign.
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Washington D.C.'s Farragut Square, a popular public space, is the landing site for the Charlottesville-to-D.C. March to Confront White Supremacy. The 10-day march left Charlottesville on August 28th and was a non-violent demonstration in response to the white-supremacist oriented Unite the Right Rally. Last Wednesday the march arrived in Washington, D.C. and organizers are now focused on the next phase of the campaign, now called "The Vigil to Confront White Supremacy." This includes daily activities in and around the square, like protests at the White House -- just a short walk away. The diverse coalition of organizations behind the protests have renamed Farragut Square, Impeachment Square.
As the new name suggests, having Donald Trump impeached is one of the goals of the movement. Nelini Stamp, Special Projects Director for the Working Families Party and one of the #cville2dc organizers, updated VICE Impact on the outcome of the march and ongoing efforts to confront white supremacy.
Scary Moments During the March
After 10 days, 100+ miles, and numerous cities and towns traveled, Stamp estimates that 400-500 people participated in the March to Confront White Supremacy. Wet weather did not stop protesters from marching the entire 118 miles, but one day was cut short by an armed man in Madison, Virginia who made his presence known to the marchers.
"We had to end the march 2.5 miles early that day because of this armed gunman was just standing around in what seemed like an intimidation tactic," Stamp told VICE Impact. "We didn't want to compromise anyone's safety, so we ended the day early, but we made up for the miles lost."
That was not the only scary moment during the march. At a gas station in the vicinity of Culpeper, Virginia, #cville2dc supporters found themselves surrounded by people who were opposed to their presence.
"It started out with one woman yelling at us to get a job, but then people started joining her and they were screaming at us to get a job and go to China. I seriously have no idea what that was supposed to mean, but it was pretty frightening to be yelled at and surrounded like that," Stamp said.
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Confronting White Supremacy
White supremacy became the dominant topic in news cycles and social media conversations In the wake of the deadly events that took place in Charlottesville and President Trump's wavering comments,. While the subject is not new to social justice organizations and marginalized communities, such outward displays of white supremacy are a fairly new concept to some Americans.
"People think white supremacy is people in hoods or now, people in khakis carrying tiki torches. But it's much more than that. There are day-to-day impacts that stem from systemic inequalities," Stamp said. "We want to remove all white supremacists from office and ensure that no white supremacist policies are passed. We have to defend DACA and other important measures."
Learning from the Occupy Wall Street Encampments
As the anti-white supremacy activists lay claim to the use of Farragut Square for the entire month of September, comparisons to the Occupy Wall Street movement are inevitable. Occupy Wall Street encampments in public spaces, which started in New York and spread to cities nation-wide and across the globe, were by-and-large demolished by local law enforcement. Tents were torn down and supplies were confiscated and destroyed. To avoid that fate, Stamp told VICE Impact that as they applied for permits.Also, organizers have attempted to follow what they understand as park rules such as not sleeping in the park overnight and not having tents with four sides, and using open tents instead.
However, those attempts were not enough. Organizers issued a press release stating that on Saturday, September 9 at 4 am, police raided the Farragut Square encampment and removed "signs, tents, donated supplies, and food." This activity occurred one week before the Mother of All Rallies (an event to be held by Trump supporters) is to take place in D.C. on the National Mall. The Parks Department has already issued permits for that event.
"It speaks volumes about our country that a permit would be issued for a white supremacist rally, yet our non-violent, 24-hour vigil against our white supremacist government and legacy would be broken up by a public institution. This illustrates exactly the point we are setting out to make and we remain undeterred in our efforts to turn the page on white supremacy and push white supremacists out of office to create a safer world," Stamp said in a statement.
For its part, the National Park Service (NPS) says it is trying to work with the organizers. "For several days, the National Park Service has been communicating with organizers of the March to Confront White Supremacy to explain permit requirements and available locations," the NPS said in a statement For Farragut Square, as long as the number of people is 25 or fewer, the group is welcome to stay; however, a permit is required to erect a tent. The United States Park Police removed the tents on Saturday morning to bring the group into compliance."
Stamp told VICE Impact that more than tents were removed and that supplies (including bandages and water) were also taken.
How to Support the Cause
Monday through Friday at 6 pm EST throughout the month of September, anti-white supremacy activists are marching from Farragut Square to the White House. Stamp encourages everyone to attend to help boost turnout.
Additionally, the plan is to have daily actions in Farragut Square (trainings, spiritual ceremonies, rallies, etc) throughout the month of September right up to the March for Racial Justice, which takes place on September 30, 2017 at the National Mall.