Black South Carolina lawmaker Wendell Gilliard, has been petitioning for the removal of Confederate monuments in Charleston. He claims that the monuments are an “economic killer” discouraging people from visiting Charleston. Gilliard does not want the monuments destroyed- but rather relocated to a museum.
No everyone in Charleston, however, appriciates Gilliard advocating for the monument’s relocation. Charleston, the hometown of Dylan Roof, murderous white supremacist is also home to many racists who like Roof, have become radicalized online, who have recently made Gilliard their newest target of online threats for his position advocating for the monument’s removal. From being called a a “n****r” and told to “go back to Africa” Gilliard was also met with threats of mobs coming to his home, all to protect an outdated racist statue.
As reported by The Grio:
Wendell Gilliard, a Charleston Democrat said that he got the message on Thursday from one who identified himself as John Calhoun, which is the name of the seventh vice president of the US. He argued that slavery was a “positive good.”
The email threatened to bring a “group” to Gilliard’s home and says, “We wear suits. No sheet.”
The full email message said, “We tired [sic] being understanding with you N*****s! If you don’t like the Flag and our monuments you should go back home to Africa. This our country and we both know you will not have your way. We despise you and I don’t understand why you’re fighting a losing battle. What’s your address? Maybe I will bring my group to your house. We wear suits. No sheet. How about 3AM?”
Gilliard says, “Hate groups are on the rise in South Carolina. The Klan and skinheads are growing in numbers.”
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center there are 12 active hate groups in South Carolina. That may sound like a lot but just 10 years ago there were 43 groups.
Heidi Beirich, the intelligence policy director at SPLC says that we need to remember that much of what these groups do can now be done online which has expanded their reach to people who aren’t necessarily affiliated with any particular group.
Dylann Roof, the Charleston shooter for example, murdered nine black people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in of June 2015.
“Dylann Roof was radicalized online, and that makes him just like a lot of ISIS killers who have no connection to the Islamic State,” Beirich said.
The email to Gilliard came a couple of weeks after he argued there were places for Confederate monuments other than public parks and squares.
“If I was mayor of this city, I would bring those statues down,” Gilliard told The Post and Courier, a Charleston newspaper. “Not to erase anything, but I would put them in a museum. To me, that’s the answer to all of this.”
He says that these monuments are an “economic killer” and that they discourage people from visiting Charleston.
Unmoved by the threats and striving to continue to do whats right, Gilliard vows to live life as normal.
About life after the threat, “I’ll go on with my everyday life. This is my hometown,” Gilliard said. “I believe in what I’m doing, and many other people believe in what I’m doing. We always have to stand for what’s right.”
Since Trump has taken office hate crimes around the nation have been on the rise at an alarming rate. Trump’s fear mongering of people of color, immigrants, and people of differing faith has legitimized the sentiments of white supremacists who now feel emboldened enough to make threats to anyone, even law makers. It is encouraging, however that even in the face of hate and violence Hilliard is not backing down from doing what’s right. It is then, and only then can we move forward as a nation to grant equality to all.
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(Article by Tasha Sharifa)