As rumors circulated Friday morning that the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacists planned to rally in downtown Durham, N.C., in response to the toppling of a Confederate statue on Monday by racial-justice advocates, counterprotesters showed up, crowding the streets and forcing local and government businesses and buildings to shut down for the day.
WRAL reports that some of the counterprotesters held up banners that read, “We Will Not Be Intimidated” and “John Brown Lives. Smash White Supremacy,” as they stood in the crowded streets of a downtown intersection.
Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews addressed the rumors of the planned demonstrations via the following statement:
We have received numerous reports of potential counter protests in the Durham community. At this time, law enforcement continues to monitor the area and have not confirmed reports of activity. We are urging the public to avoid circulating rumors on social media and instead wait for verified information from officials monitoring the situation.
Law enforcement was present to make sure things remained peaceful, and a number of streets in the downtown area were shut down for safety purposes as the groups marched from the old courthouse toward the new courthouse in downtown Durham, picking up marchers and getting larger as they moved along.
At one point, a crowd of demonstrators made a makeshift Confederate flag they then set on fire, but even then, the crowds of counterprotesters remained peaceful.
Sheriff Andrews told WRAL that he was not aware of any permits being issued for the rumored KKK/white supremacist rally, and around 2 p.m. local time, the crowds began to disperse after one group leader announced, “KKK has backed off.”
Sheriff Andrews then issued another statement thanking the community for a peaceful demonstration:
We want to thank the Durham community for a peaceful demonstration. Throughout the day, we have received numerous reports of potential counter protests in the Durham community. The Sheriff’s Office has been gathering and reviewing information related to potential counter protests throughout the week. We have taken steps to ensure public safety. At this time, law enforcement continues to monitor the area and has not confirmed reports of activity. We are urging residents to avoid joining the crowd in the downtown area as law enforcement continues to monitor the situation. Residents are encouraged to rely on verified information.
This is a perfect example of how it’s not the people fighting for humanity who cause chaos and violence. In the absence of racist agitators and police looking to cause more harm, this demonstration went off without a hitch.
Also worth noting: Although Sheriff Andrews says that the idea of a KKK/white supremacist rally was just a rumor, some who work in the courthouse in Durham are saying that those rumors may have come from directly inside local government.