The movement to take down statues and memorials celebrating Confederate generals has been spreading quickly. White supremacists are becoming more open and extreme, many of them saying they've been emboldened by Donald Trump's election.
Last weekend in Charlottesville, a rally organized by "Unite the Right" gathered at UVA to protest the planned removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. The demonstration devolved into violence over the weekend, and a woman named Heather Heyer was killed when a car drove into a crowd of counter-protesters.
UVA isn't the only place that's been talking about getting rid of all these statues dedicated to the losers of the American Civil War. A statue was removed in Gainesville, one in Hollywood, and there's a planned removal in Lexington.
The New York Times reports that the city of Baltimore seems to have decided to get rid of their Confederate statues too, and they weren't gonna deal with any KKK members showing up. In the middle of the night, they took them all away, and it's one of the first things I've smiled about in this situation all week:
What a lot of people don't necessarily realize is that many of these statues are more kitsch than ceremonious marker of fallen soldiers. Most were put up many decades after the war in the early 1900s by the Daughters of the Confederacy and other Southern groups who wanted to commemorate the "War of Northern Aggression." These plaques and statues are everywhere, not just in main squares, and right now there's a way of people quietly removing them:
And also not so quietly:
You can see how cheap that thing is when it comes down! That statue was removed by protesters in Durham, North Carolina. One woman named Taqiyah Thompson was arrested, accused of climbing a ladder and attaching a rope to the statue, and was charged with two felonies. Thompson doesn't regret her actions.
“I did the right thing," she told reporters, "Everyone who was there—the people did the right thing. The people will continue to keep making the right choices until every Confederate statue is gone, until white supremacy is gone. That statue is where it belongs. It needs to be in the garbage.
“The people decided to take matters into our own hands and remove the statue,” Thompson continued.“We are tired of waiting on politicians who could have voted to remove the white supremacist statues years ago, but they failed to act. So we acted.”
The removal of these statues may be largely symbolic, but their placement has been a symbol of something very wrong for a very long time.