The first bronze statue to be lifted from its stone pedestal was that of Robert E. Lee, the infamous commander of the Confederate Army, which stood in Market Street Park. This public park was once named in the general’s honor until June of 2017 when it became known as Emancipation Park; one year later, it was yet again renamed as Market Street Park.
As the crane was put in place to remove the statue of Lee, the city’s mayor, Nikuyah Walker, spoke to onlookers. “Taking down this statue is one small step closer to the goal of helping Charlottesville, Virginia, and America grapple with the sin of being willing to destroy Black people for economic gain,” she said.
Two hours later, the statue of Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson—who gained his enduring nickname after successfully commanding a brigade in the First Battle of Bull Run—was taken down from its place in Court Square Park. Similar to the tale of Market Street Park, this spot once boasted the name of Stonewall Jackson, was renamed Justice Park and has since become Court Square Park.
In response to the removal of both statues, associate professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia Jalane Schmidt said, “I literally felt lighter when the statues came down, it was such a relief.”
According to CNN, both statues have been placed in storage while the city pursues different places to preserve and, more importantly, contextualize them such as museums, historical societies or Civil War battlefields. The city has reportedly already received 10 offers, six of which are out of state and four of which are within the state of Virginia.
This ultimate removal and push for contextualization came after nearly five years of heated court battles and protests. Back in 2016, then-high school student and current student at the University of Virginia, Zyahna Bryant, launched a petition to get the statues removed from their dominant positions over the city. Early the following year, city council voted to take down the statues, but this action was thwarted by a legal challenge. During the summer of 2017, “the statues of Lee and Jackson—and threats to remove them—served as a rallying cry for the far right,” as NPR said. On August 11 and 12 of that summer, this tension boiled over into the horrific, violent and racist riots of the Unite the Right Rally. On the second day of rioting, white supremacist neo-Nazis came to a head with counter-protesters when one man drove his car into a crowd, killing one woman, Heather Heyer, and injuring 19 others, only a few steps away from the statue of Robert E. Lee.
It was not until April of this year that the Supreme Court of Virginia overturned the original challenge to the removal of the statues. On June 7, the city council voted once again to remove the state-owned statues.
The racist legacy of these statues and the necessity of their overdue removal goes deeper than the obvious immortalization of individuals who dedicated themselves to the perpetuation of the enslavement of Black people. These statues are also artifacts of the Jim Crow era in Virginia, seeing as they were not erected in the immediate wake of the Civil War, but in fact decades later. The Robert E. Lee statue, for example, was not dedicated until 1924. NPR described the unveiling ceremonies of these statues:
“Charlottesville’s statues of Lee and Jackson were erected in the early 1920s with large ceremonies that included Confederate veteran reunions, parades and balls. At one event during the 1921 unveiling of the Jackson statue, children formed a living Confederate flag on the lawn of a school down the road from Vinegar Hill, a prominent Black neighborhood. The Jackson statue was placed on land that had once been another prosperous Black neighborhood.”
The programs coordinator from the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society, Sterling Howell, said on the installment of Confederate memorials, “This was at the height of Jim Crow segregation, at the height of lynchings in American history. […] There was a clear statement that [Black people] weren’t welcome.”
The first statue was of Revolutionary War general George Rogers Clark on his horse in front of three crouching Native Americans and two frontiersmen behind them, one of whom was raising his rifle. This statue sat on University of Virginia grounds, across from the popular dining and shopping area called “The Corner.”
The second statue depicted famous explorers, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, standing tall and looking outwards while Sacagawea squatted beside them. The statue stood outside a federal courthouse downtown.
According to city council member Michael Payne, the council voted in favor of the removal of the Lewis and Clark statue in the fall of 2019. The process of removal was significantly sped up, however, after the contracting company that removed the Lee and Jackson statues offered last-minute to take down the George Rogers Clark and Lewis and Clark statues at no additional cost.
While these four statues no longer loom over the busy streets and passing-by residents of Charlottesville, Virginia, the fight to come to terms with the racist history of Virginia, the South and the entirety of America is nowhere close to over. In Charlottesville alone, ties to this dark past are enduring. As just one example, the man who commissioned all four of the aforementioned statues, Paul Goodloe McIntire, is still immortalized across the city, including as the name for the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce.
LeBron James and L.A. Lakers Help Sell Confederate Merchandise
“Hypocrite” Basketball Star Wears Logo of Retailer Marketing Confederate Flags and Robert E. Lee Lunch Bags
Despite cultivating the reputation of a social justice warrior, basketball star LeBron James and his Los Angeles Lakers teammates have hit the court with the logo of online retailer Wish on their uniforms since 2017. Members of the Project 21 black leadership network criticized James, the Lakers and the NBA for political inconsistency for their relationship of a retailer that sells products honoring the Confederacy.
“I wish LeBron wasn’t a hypocrite, but I guess it’s part of being on the woke left,” said Project 21 member Richard Holt. “But let’s be even more honest here. The NBA, LeBron and all the other social justice warriors are ultimately in it for the money. I don’t think they really care about you and me if there’s a dollar to be made. So, they can keep promoting state’s rights through Wish sales all they want maybe when the South rises again they can make money on the Robert E. Lee baseball hats.”
“We Wish LeBron Was Consistent,” a page on Project 21’s website, features images of only a few of the many Confederate and Southern pride items that can be obtained through Wish, an e-commerce platform designed to make it easier for third-party sellers to reach customers. This includes a wide array of Confederate-themed items including Confederate flag pillows, blankets, kids’ military uniforms, portraits of Confederate generals and even anti-COVID face masks featuring the rebel flag. James and the Lakers wear the Wish logo on their uniforms that the NBA promotes through the league’s own online store as “a call to action, a command for greatness.”
“Wish can sell these things if it wants to, but why have LeBron and the Lakers lent their reputation to help them sell it?” the webpage asks. “Why has the NBA allowed this to happen after claiming to be all-in on social justice?”
The team’s partnership with Wish, and its pride in these uniforms, is particularly perplexing given its loud activism supporting “woke” causes.
“Prior to the start of the 2017-2018 NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers signed a three-season deal with Wish. Lakers Chief Operating Officer Tim Harris called Wish ‘a company that shares our commitment to giving back to the community.’ Of course, when that community is the Lakers, and it is getting $12-14 million every season for the label rights, I guess it overlooked some of the products sold by Wish that should be decried by the team’s star player,” said Project 21 member Martin Baker. “Amidst all of the controversy over the Confederate flag, will James now call out his employers who just extended his contract through 2023 over the products that their sponsor sells? Or is he happy just cashing his own checks? Hypocrisy, thy name is the average professional athlete.”
Project 21 suggests people ask James, Lakers management and NBA officials why they did not properly check Wish sellers’ inventories and continue monitoring them before entering into this controversial relationship. A Twitter tool has been put on Project 21’s webpage to facilitate outreach and discussion.
“Let’s face it, LeBron is a publicity hog. We all can figure LeBron hasn’t done any due diligence into the practices of Wish and probably never will,” said Project 21 member Donna Jackson. “LeBron likes to position himself as a social justice warrior, but his primary wishes are really to stay in the news cycle and to generate profits for him and his sponsors. Since his activism has almost single-handedly tanked NBA ratings over the past two years, I’m sure this wish won’t become a reality.”
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A comprehensive report of the continuation and influx of unjustified treatment towards minorities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
February 23: 25-year-old Georgia resident Ahmaud Arbery was fatally shot while running unarmed. No arrests were made immediately, but Gregory and Travis McMichael, who claim to have been making a citizen’s arrest, have since been apprehended more than 2 months after the shooting and charged with murder and aggravated assault. The murder and its delayed action have sparked nationwide protests and calls for justice. The lawyer, hired by Ahmaud’s family, was also hired by another African American victim – Breonna Taylor.
March 13: Breonna Taylor was shot and killed in her Louisville home after police entered the house on a search warrant. Taylor and her boyfriend believed they were burglars and began firing at the police. The shootout left 26-year-old Taylor dead and her boyfriend, 27, arrested and charged with assault and attempted murder of a police officer. Neither Taylor nor her boyfriend Walker had a criminal record, but Walker had a firearm license.
March 23: A newly released video shows a 68-year-old black Missouri woman by the name of Marvia Gray and her son Derek being forcefully arrested on the floor of a department store on March 23rd. The two were accused falsely of trying to steal a television and were injured when thrown on the floor by police, according to Gray. They were however, arrested for assault on a police officer and resisting arrest.
April 11: Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, was fatally shot on Sunday afternoon during a traffic stop. When Wright was pulled over, officers were attempting to handcuff him when the subject broke free and jumped into the driver’s seat. Officer Kim Potter threatened to tase him, yelling “Taser!” three times before shooting Wright. Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said, “It is my belief that the officer had the intention to deploy their Taser but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet.” On Monday evening, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner reported that Wright died due to a gunshot wound to his chest. Potter resigned from the police department on Tuesday, and has now been arrested and charged with second-degree manslaughter.
April 18: Steven Taylor, 33, was shot to death by police in a California Walmart while attempting to steal from the store and threatening violent acts with a baseball bat. Taylor was fatally shot, however, after becoming a non-threat, it prompted the family to call for charges against the officers. Taylor was also allegedly in a mental health crisis and has a history of disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Taylor leaves behind three children and three siblings.
April 21: A 42-year-old Black man, Andrew Brown Jr., was shot by North Carolina sheriff’s deputies in Elizabethtown just before 8:30 am. A private autopsy conducted by Brown’s family has revealed that he was shot five times, and was killed by a bullet blow to his head. The Pasquotank County sheriff claims that the deputies were conducting an arrest warrant on drug charges when Brown was shot. A local prosecutor claims Brown was trying to escape and had hit deputies with his car. The Brown family lawyer claims that Brown’s hands were on the wheel when he was shot, and says that Brown had no drugs or weapons in his vehicle. The family has not yet seen a search warrant from the Department, and the F.B.I. is opening a civil rights investigation into the case.
A clergy march in Elizabeth honoring Brown will take place on Saturday, May 8 at 11am. The march will be led by Bishop William J. Barber (President of Repairers of the Breach, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival former moderator with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)) II and Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman (an elder with the AME Zion Church and former president of the N.C. Council of Churches), both of whom will lead a march of interfaith and interdenominational clergy. A public rally and news conference will follow the clergy march and begin at 11:30am. Clergy members are to meet at 10:30 am at 299 US Highway 158 N., in front of the old Elizabeth City Middle School. The clergy march is set to lead to the Pasquotank County Courthouse, where the public rally will be held. For more info, please visit this website.
April 24: Austin Police murdered 42-year old Michael Ramos after a nearby 911 call about a possible drug deal. The police shot Ramos when he was out of his car, with his hands above his head. When Ramos re-entered his vehicle and began driving away, he was shot again and soon after, died. A later investigation found no sign of a firearm in the car.
April 28: A shootout with police in Florida killed 26-year-oldJonas Joseph after his car was pulled over. Joseph began firing at police, who returned fire and killed the young man.
May 6: 21-year-old Sean Reed was killed by police following a vehicle pursuit on the evening of May 6, 2020. The police pursued Reed after being seen driving erratically on the highway. The pursuit terminated, but when Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Assistant Chief Chris Bailey spotted the car parked, he approached. Reed tried to flee, but the confrontation left the young man dead. A crowd of protestors at the scene demanded the reasoning for the officer’s use of force.
May 9: 48-year-old Adrian Medeariswas killed after being pulled over under suspicion of driving while intoxicated in Houston. The officer conducted a sobriety test, and attempted to arrest Medearis, a well-known local Gospel singer and choir director, but he resisted arrest and was fatally shot in the ensuing altercation. His family and community are demanding the release of the video.
May 18: A Sarasota police officer was filmed using excessive force and kneeling on Patrick Carroll’s neck during an arrest. The video was put on social media and the officer in question has been put on administrative leave weeks after the event.
May 25: A woman named Amy Cooper called the cops on Christian Cooper, a Harvard alumnus and former Marvel Comics editor. The 57-year-old man was bird watching in Central Park when she approached him without her dog on the leash. After he asked her to put the dog on a leash, she called the police and claimed to be threatened. The altercation went viral after Christian Cooper posted a video of the event on social media, recording the woman aggressively restraining her dog and her saying, “I’m going to tell them [the police] there’s an African American man threatening my life.” Amy Cooper has since publicly apologized. But, Cooper has faced repercussions beyond negative comments on Twitter. She has been fired from her job at Franklin Templeton Investments, where she was vice president, and her dog has been rescued by a pet shelter.
May 25th: a Minneapolis man named George Floyd was murdered by police after an officer knelt on his neck despite his cries for help. Floyd was taken to a hospital where he died, and four officers were fired soon after the incident. A police statement says that Floyd was being investigated for a “forgery in progress” and resisted arrest. But, surveillance video of the arrest shows Floyd complying with the officers. On May 29th, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was charged with murder and manslaughter, four days after George Floyd’s death. On June 3rd, the other three officers involved in George Floyd’s murder, J.A. Keung, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao, were arrested and charged with Aiding and Abetting Second Degree Murder and Aiding and Abetting Second Degree Manslaughter. Floyd’s murder sparked protests around the country with citizens looting and setting fire to buildings. The protestors have been met with tear gas and rubber bullets from police officers.
May 28: At a protest in Minneapolis, 43-year-old Calvin L. Horton Jr. was fatally shot and a suspect is in custody.
A Mississippi cop is on leave after a video is released of him choking a young suspect.
May 29: CNN reporter Omar Jimenez and his crew were arrested while reporting on the protest in Minneapolis. Meanwhile, another CNN reporter, Josh Campbell, says he was treated very differently by police and allowed to stay and report. Jimenez is black and Latino whereas Campbell is white. All three CNN workers were released from custody an hour later.
21-year-old Javar Harrell was not protesting but was fatally shot near protests in Detroit. It is unclear if his death is tied to protests.
May 30: The “Rally To End Modern Day Lynching” took place in Harlem in honor of George Floyd. The rally emphasizes that participants should still practice social distancing and wear a mask. Also on May 30th, participants will honor Floyd at the site of Eric Garner‘s murder in 2014. These New York protests became progressively more violent into the evening. Governor Brian Kemp issued a state of emergency and curfew for Atlanta in preparation for planned protests on May 31st. After four days of protests, Governor Newsom declares a state of emergency in Los Angeles. The courthouse and city hall were set on fire in Nashville.
A 21-year old unnamed man was fatally shot at a protest in Detroit.
In Dallas, a machete-yielding storeowner confronted protesters and was then violently beaten by the crowd; the man is now in stable condition.
Chris Beaty, 38, was killed from multiple gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead at the scene in Indianapolis.
May 31: After setting fires and looting in Santa Monica, the city declared a curfew. Curfews have since been set all around the country.
Italia Kelly, 22, and another victim were fatally shot while leaving a protest in Davenport, Iowa.
In Victorville, CA, Malcolm Harsch, 38, was found hanging from a tree and authorities are investigating the event as a potential homicide. Harsch’s family says they are very skeptical of his death being by suicide.
June 1: In Minneapolis, a group of men attacked Iyanna Dior, a black transgender woman; Dior is okay and in stable condition now.
53-year-old David McAtee was shot as national Guard troops and Louisville police broke up a protest; some footage shows McAtee shooting at police but it is unclear who fired their guns first because the officers involved did not activate their body cameras. The Louisville Metro Police Chief, Steve Conrad, was immediately fired because of the officers’ unactivated cameras.
16-year-old Jahmel Leach was tased in the face by NYPD and could be permanently disfigured from the attack. It is unclear why the police officers used force to arrest Leach.
June 2: Six Atlanta police officers have been fired and arrested for using excessive force towards Messiah Young and Taniyah Pilgrim, two young black people leaving the protests.
77-year-old David Dorn, a retired St. Louis police captain, was fatally shot by looters of a pawnshop after responding to an alarm.
June 4: At 3:45pm, NAACP holds a moment of silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in honor of George Floyd live on their Twitter.
June 5: All 57 members of the Buffalo Police Department’s emergency response team resigned in protest for police brutality – particularly seen in a video of Buffalo police pushing an unarmed man.
Reddit Co-founder Alexis Ohanian resigns from the company’s board and urges the company to replace his spot with a black candidate.
In a YouTube video, Robert L. Johnson, the first black American billionaire and co-founder of BET, talks to The Breakfast Club about racism and reparations.
20-year-old Dounya Zayer was violently shoved by a police officer at a protest in Brooklyn, NY.
June 6: Michael Jordan and Jordan Brand pledge $100 million donation over the next 10 years to organizations promoting social justice and racial equality.
A video shows protestors creating a human shield to protect NYPD officers fro rioters throwing objects at the policemen.
June 7: Virginia governor plans to remove Robert E. Lee statue later this week.
CEO of CrossFit Greg Glassman’s insensitive tweet about George Floyd has caused Glassman to face serious backlash. Partners of CrossFit, like Reebok or Rogue Fitness, and athletes, including Brooke Wells and Richard Froning, released statements that they will cut ties with CrossFit.
BLM protestors in Bristol pull down statue of Edward Colton, a slave trader who transported nearly 100,000 slaves in the 17th century.
Harry H. Rogers drove into a group of protestors near Richmond, Virginia. Rogers identifies as the leader of the Ku Klux Klan and prosecutors are investigating the assault as a potential hate crime.
June 8: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announces police reform legislation called The Justice in Policing Act of 2020 which would ban chokeholds, establish a national database to track police misconduct, and more.
Minneapolis City Council announce plans to defund the Minneapolis police department.
GoFundMe suspends Candace Owens’ account saying that Owens, “spread hate, discrimination, intolerance and falsehoods against the black community.”
June 9: Greg Glassman, the CEO and founder of CrossFit, retires after his inappropriate tweet about George Floyd’s murder.
New York Police Chief Mike O’Meara shames the press for vilifying police officers in a video here.
June 10: In Palmdale, CA, 24-year-old black man named Robert Fuller, was found hanging from a tree in what was originally described as an apparent suicide. Citizens are demanding that Fuller’s death is investigated as a homicide.
June 11: After Trump’s comments about Seattle protestors being “domestic terrorists” and that law enforcement must “dominate the streets” to “take back Seattle,” Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan clarifies that the protestors are not threatening and that the president’s claims are unconstitutional.
June 12: Atlanta police fatally shot Rayshard Brooks, 27, at a Wendy’s drive-thru. Brooks’ murder caused Atlanta police chief Erika Shields to resign.
The officer who shot Brooks was Garrett Rolfe. Rolfe was terminated from his job one day after the shooting, but as of Wednesday, he was reinstated to his position. Atlanta’s Civil Service Board reinstated the officer because they found that Rolfe’s firing violated his due process rights. It is not being argued whether the shooting was justified, but rather if the proper firing procedures had been followed regarding the officer’s dismissal. At a board hearing on April 22, lawyer Allegra Lawrence-Hardy argues that “immediate dismal” of an employee “impairs the effectiveness of others.” However, despite being reinstated, Rolfe will remain on administrative leave until his murder and aggravated assault charges regarding the June 12 shooting are resolved.
June 13: Patrick Hutchinson, a black personal trainer from London, rescued ‘far-right’ protester who was badly beaten during protest clashes in London.
A young, black FedEx driver named Brandon Brackins turned to social media to tell his followers how he was called racial slurs while working.
June 16: A story resurfaces from 2006 when black, Buffalo, NY cop Cariol Horne was fired for stopping her white colleague from choking a handcuffed suspect.
Philadelphia court supervisor Michael Henkel is fired after video shows him tearing down BLM signs.
June 17: Quaker Oats plans to retire their Aunt Jemima branding and logo after acknowledging the racial stereotyping.
June 18: A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputy fatally shot 18-year-old Andres Guardado.
June 20: Rioters storm the streets of Tulsa, Oklahoma during President Trump’s rally.
June 21: A NYPD officer is on unpaid suspension after a chokehold incident in Queens.
June 22: Department of Justice is investigating a noose found in Bubba Wallace‘s NASCAR garage. Wallace is the only black driver in NASCAR’s top circuit. On June 23, the FBI determines that Wallace was not the target of a hate crime.
August 23: Jacob Blake is shot by Kenosha police officers after breaking up a nearby fight that two other women were having. Blake was unarmed and shot seven times in the back. He is currently hospitalized for his injuries.
December 5: Lt. Caron Nazario, a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, is suing two of the Town of Windsor police officers who conducted his traffic stop. Nazario is a Black and Latino man who was pulled over whilst wearing his uniform. He is requesting at least $1 million in damage costs and is looking for the court to rule that the officers violated his human rights, especially regarding the Fourth Amendment. He was pulled over by Officer Daniel Crocker and Joe Gutierrez, who exercised knee-strikes, deployed OC spray, and took the Nazario’s gun in what his attorney, Jonathan Arthur, classifies as an illegal search. In body camera footage, Gutierrez can be overheard telling Nazario that if he had just complied, he would have “been gone by now” and threatened that the charges against Nazario could impact his career in the army, if Nazario complained about the incident. By threatening Nazario’s career, his attorney says that Crocker and Gutierrez violated the subject’s First Amendment Rights.
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