From Amanda Ann Godwin: The Ku Klux Klan Comes to Our Town
Dear Friends on The Path,
If you are getting this email, it is either because you are dear to me or because we share some, if not most, of our deeply held values. Most of you fall into both those categories.
Most of you know I live in the pretty progressive small (population about 7,000) southern town of Hillsborough NC which many artists and writers call home. We have a large arts community and a fair number of town events through the year that are attended by a large, diverse slice of the townies.
Last Saturday the Klan came to town. I was driving home from the library when I hit the main street's intersection (Part of a downtown that is maybe 6 blocks long) and there across the street in front of the court house were 3 guys in Klan regalia and a half dozen other people holding confederate flags. Shocked and scared I fled home. NEVER did I ever imagine I would see Klansmen in person in my life time. A rally and a counter demonstration ensued. There was no physical violence that I know of & there are warrants out for the arrest of 2 of the men for open carrying of weapons at a demonstration. The Klan folk were from out of town (some small comfort) and have promised to return this coming weekend. I am horrified and scared. Despite the white skin that grants me certain kinds of safety as walk through my days, I do not feel the level of safety I could claim before this rally or anywhere near it. I fear for my friends of color. and everyone else who has minority status from a white supremist point of view. This is intensified as one of my oldest & dearest friends is coming to visit next week who is Muslim and wears hijab. We are trying to make a decision if she should come or reroute her visit. It breaks my heart.
*Not engaging does not feel like an option to me so I would like to tell you what I've learned since Saturday, what I currently plan to do and to ask for any experience, advice or encouragement you can grant me. Thank you in advance.
What I now know:
*There will be a counter rally sponsored by Hillsborough Progressives in Action on Saturday at noon. A permit has been granted for this.
*The clan has promised to return this coming Saturday but stated no time frame.
*The Quaker community is planning a pop up meeting for worship across the street from the Klan rally. They have a texting tree that will go into effect at the first sign of the KKK arriving and will appear with their chairs and worship in silence. Someone is making cards (to be handed out to anyone who shows up) to explain what they are doing and invite others to join in.
*There is a split in law enforcement support. The town mayor & police department are taking a stand that there is no room for hate in this town. The Sheriff's Department had 4 men at the rally last Saturday and all 4 turned a blind eye to the fact that men had weapons on them. It was from videos after the fact that the police put out warrants for the arrest of the men carrying said weapons. The word on the street today is that they have been arrested. I don't have confirmation of the truth of that.
* I called the police department today and had a conversation stating I lived here, am scared by the KKK's presence, I plan to be part of the march on Saturday and asked if there was anything we could do to make the job of town police easier or that would insure their support, or if there was anything we needed to know or do. Aside from getting a permit the answer was no. When I asked "What is the plan for police presence and response?" I was told that there would be solid police presence all weekend long and esp around the courthouse and that if the Klan and/or flag wavers show up "they will be promptly kicked out of town because they do not have a permit. See you Saturday!" That conversation felt real and alive and relieved me some small amount.
* Being part of demonstrations in big cities where 1000s of people are marching( my prior experience of demonstrating & doing civil disobedience) is a very different thing than showing up to march in a small town. Everyone is totally visible. It feels a lot more vulnerable. I'm clear about marching but not really about anything else. Not showing up does not feel like an option.
So I am coveting your prayers for Love being the main note on Saturday for every square inch of town and safety for every single person. And for holding a vision for peace and no physical violence. If you have experience or advice or encouragement to offer, please do. This whole thing feels surreal and all too real at the same time. I esp would covet advise as to how to speak to white supremicists for that eventuality in case that occurs, though I will not seek it out. Only a very clear leading could get me to do that at this point. I am committed to keeping Love as the main note, regardless of much I fall short of it. I am holding the vision of these people being arrested by the very Presence of Love. (In that way I'm grateful for the Quaker presence even though it doesn't feel active enough for me/my participation) I can't even imagine how awful things must be inside of a person to make this intense sweeping hate attractive at all. However you do it, please do send some loving steady energy our way in the days to come. I hold a vision for a time when this awfulness and all it implies and values, is no more.
With much Love