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Thousands square off against the Klan in Columbia, SC

By Michael Graham |
July 19, 2015
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Thousands protest KKK at Columbia, SC Statehouse.
Thousands protest KKK at Columbia, SC Statehouse. (Fight Back! News/Staff)
Klan met by big counter protest in Colombia, SC.
Klan met by big counter protest in Colombia, SC.

Columbia, SC – Facing sweltering heat, and in the face of a massive police presence, about 2000 protesters, including the New Black Panther Party, confronted a Ku Klux Klan rally on the grounds of the capitol building here, July 18. Snipers could be seen at the corner of every building top.

The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was rallying to allegedly defend the Confederate battle flag, upset that it had been removed from the capitol building in the wake of the racist massacre of nine attendees of the Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina weeks earlier.

At the KKK rally, speakers employed the tired old ‘heritage not hate’ argument for the Confederate flag - a symbol of racism that was used extensively by opponents of the Civil Rights movement. For their protection, the KIan was surrounded by a phalanx of state police, many in paramilitary gear. Midway through the event, participants in the Klan protest unfurled a giant swastika flag.

About half of Klansmen were dressed street clothes, but another half seemed to be dressed in quasi-uniforms covered in Nazi symbols. As one of these wannabe storm troopers stepped to the edge of an elevated marble ledge and spewed racial epithets at the majority Black crowd, people below spontaneously begin chanting, “Jump! Jump! Jump!”

Shortly after this, a man draped in the Confederate flag was seen walking through the counter-protesters loudly proclaiming, “This flag does not represent hate, it represents heritage. I’m not a racist, people died for this flag,” and so on. Several counter-protesters tried to explain the flaws in his argument, but he was hearing none of it. Later this flag was snatched from his body by a young Black man, who said, “We’re taking this shit back home to burn!”

Shortly after that encounter, this reporter witnessed a cop, hanging from the side of a fast-moving State Law Enforcement Division SUV and dressed in battle fatigues, jump from the vehicle with what appeared to be a shotgun. He then chased an unarmed Black youth, who was able to escape.

Police wound up escorting KKK and Nazi supporters to a parking garage. Counter-protesters followed and continued to express their disdain for the racist groups.

Despite the thick police guard, at least one counter-protester managed to get a jaw-busting punch through to a retreating KKK member. The counter-protester was dragged away by police immediately, and indiscriminate arrests began. Small scuffles and rock throwing took place.

Despite some challenges, the counter protest was absolutely successful, forcing the KKK’s rally to end an hour early. Counter protester Phil Davis of Columbia said, “The fascists were weak today, very weak. The progressives and revolutionaries outnumbered them by hundreds, and they were resoundingly defeated, and let’s hope they don’t come back.”