NAACP Gathers To Address Charlottesville - Brevard, NC


August 21, 2017

Matt McGregor

Members of the local NAACP chapter gather Thursday at the courthouse.

The local NAACP chapter gathered on the courthouse steps Thursday afternoon to highlight the events that took place Aug. 12 in Charlottesville, Va.

"Brevard does not sit in a cocoon," said Tommy Kilgore, the president of the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored. "Brevard is not isolated; Brevard is a part of the world."

At a demonstration called "Unite the Right," organizers protested the Charlottesville City Council's vote to remove of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville.

A suspect drove a car into a group of people who were counter-protesting the Unite the Right gathering, injuring 19 people and killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

Later that day, Virginia State Police Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper Berke M.M. Bates were killed when their helicopter, which was circling the protest, crashed into an area outside of the University of Virginia.

"We come here in heartbreak over the racism, the anti-Semitism, the bigotry, the hatred and the violence that has been growing in our country, which was spewed forth most recently in Charlottesville," said Maureen Copelof at last Thursday's event in Brevard. "We come heartbroken, and to hold vigil for those who died Saturday in Charlottesville: Heather Heyer, killed by senseless hatred, and Lieutenant Cullen and Trooper Bates, killed in a tragic helicopter accident.

"We hold vigil for those injured physically, emotionally and spiritually by Charlottesville."

According to reports, the Unite the Right demonstration was orchestrated by Jason Kessler, a Charlottesville native, who serves as president of an organization called Unity and Security for America, an organization that claims to "defend Western civilization."

Kessler and the organization were joined at their rally on Saturday by other groups that assert white supremacy, such the Klu Klux Klan.

Kathleen Barnes, the local NAACP secretary, said the meeting on the courthouse steps was specifically in response to Charlottesville and "the reemergence of open hatred in our society, and the endorsement of hatred by the man who purports to be the leader of our country."

President Trump has been criticized, including by some Republicans, for his response to the events.

"That man is not going to be in the White House forever, and we who stand for justice are going to do our best to take back not just the White House, but our government, so laws that promote justice will prevail," said Carter Heyward at the protest. "We can stand here for a year and criticize Donald Trump, but the real problem with Donald Trump is he lacks the moral authority to help people in this nation understand right from wrong."

Sheila Mooney, a retired counselor from the Transylvania County school system, also spoke at the event, saying she is angry.

"I have had enough of this," Mooney said. "I'm going to stand the rest of my life letting people know that peace is going to win."

Kilgore said he stood on the courthouse steps when there was a "whites only" water fountain.

"I was in that first class of African American students to integrate Brevard High School," Kilgore said. "We moved forward, and we didn't sit back and become complacent. We stood up and made our voices heard. And after that, changes were made. But what we saw last week in Charlottesville has the potential to reverse 109 years of the NAACP's efforts to make change, promote equality, promote good will and the freedom of all Americans."


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