Dallas won't stay silent about racist hate

Riley Taylor reports on a mobilization in Dallas, Texas, to demand the removal of a Confederate statue and stand with victims of racist hate.

A Dallas protest against white supremacy drew hundreds of people (Riley Taylor | SW)A Dallas protest against white supremacy drew hundreds of people (Riley Taylor | SW)

THOUSANDS OF anti-racists mobilized in Dallas on August 19 for "Dallas Against White Supremacy," a rally in solidarity with anti-racist activists in Charlottesville, Virginia, and Boston, and to demand the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee that stands on the grounds of Dallas City Hall.

Over 2,000 people attended the rally, which was organized by the local activist group In Solidarity. Speakers included members of Mothers Against Police Brutality, Showing Up for Racial Justice, Society of Native Nations and Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), among others.

Tensions toward the end of the rally rose as activists heard that an unconfirmed 20 to 30 racist counterprotesters were gathered near the Confederate monument. Members of the International Socialist Organization, Industrial Workers of the World, Party for Socialism and Liberation, Democratic Socialists of America, Freedom Road Socialist Organization and Solidarity, among others, mobilized to confront the right-wingers.

In the shadows of the trees and tombstones in the cemetery where the statue of Lee resides, protesters faced off against mounted police and cops in riot gear, with minor skirmishes breaking out between the racist and anti-racist protesters. Chants of "Tear them down!" and "Cops and the Klan go hand-in-hand" were heard throughout the protest.

The racists were forced to retreat--four were escorted away by the police.

One anti-racist protester named Cherry said that they were at the rally "because after seeing what happened in Charlottesville, it's just really jarring [to process] being Black myself. I'm just really tired of this. We already knew that this was happening for so long, but now seeing that they're so much more bold, we have to stand up and not just be silent about it anymore."

Describing how he felt about the events in Charlottesville, protester Malcolm Harris said, "I was hurt by the fact that not only did it happen, but that our president basically turned into a traitor against the American people. Trump is a traitor. Trump doesn't believe what most Americans believe. He needs to realize that we're against this hate and that he should be against this hate."

Another anti-racist protester, Miguel, said, "I've come to tell the racist people that we don't have a place for them, and that times are changing, because 1936 is gone. In the present, they don't have a place here in Texas."

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MANY OF Texas' racists would disagree.

The August 19 protest comes in the wake of a year full of racist violence and attacks in the Dallas area, including the killing of Black teenager Jordan Edwards by Balch Springs officer Roy Oliver, and local university campuses being targeted by white nationalist propaganda.

Additionally, two separate anti-Muslim demonstrations were carried out in front of local area Mosques by the right-wing extremist organization the Bureau of American Islamic Relations.

Such acts of racist hate have been aided and abetted by state politicians with their passage of SB 4--the anti-immigrant "show me your papers" law which is set to go into effect on September 1. Anti-racist activists across the state have been mobilizing against the anti-sanctuary city measure that deputizes law enforcement officers as immigration agents and forced cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

When asked about the connection between the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville and SB 4, Dallas-area migrant justice organizer and DSA member Kristian Hernandez said:

That's one thing we're trying to show more. Whenever people are carrying...torches, and calling themselves Nazis, and are wearing Confederate flags, or swastikas people are like, "Oh! That's white supremacy. Let's fight that."

But they don't call "white supremacy" on racist legislation, they don't call "white supremacy" on legislation that targets communities of color, and they don't realize that just because white supremacy is dressed up in a suit and tie that doesn't mean that it's not white supremacy. So showing that this type of white supremacy is just as violent as anything else is our aim here.

For now, the future of the Robert E. Lee monument seems unclear. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings has called for a commission to be created on the future of Confederate monuments, and Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway has said that the statues will be "down before Christmas."

But many in the community are worried that the commission is just a way for the city to calm tensions and delay their removal indefinitely.

One thing is certain however--our movements for racial justice are going to have to become more bold and more intersectional in the coming months and years if we truly are going to, as one protester's sign said, "smash white supremacy."