VOICES OF DAVIDSON
Davidson Counters Hate-Speech Protesters
Thursday afternoon a small group of out-of-town protesters showed up in Davidson. [see our full photo album]
They came in a van covered with banners and graphic photos. They came with bullhorns and posters. And they came to shout their chants of white supremacy, anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ, anti-feminist, and anti-any religions that disagree with their narrow views.
It was, indeed, an unbelievable intersection of hate.
And while their protest was unannounced and unscheduled, it didn’t take long for the word to spread around Davidson. Neighbors called and emailed. Others started posting on social media.
By the time we arrived at the corner of Main Street and Concord, a dozen or so counter-protesters had arrived. And they arrived with signs of love and inclusion. That grew to more than 100 people over the next hour or so.
The protesters came to Charlotte for the Republican National Convention and have protested at various locations around Charlotte over the past few days. And while it is not definitively clear why they came to Davidson, they focused many of their speeches at the college students.
They used their bullhorns to spew their hatred. The shared two bullhorns and alternated speakers. Of note, they allowed the lone woman in their group to speak but highlighted that she was allowed to speak only after all the men had spoken.
While the vast majority of the counter-protesters stayed on one side of the street, a few ventured across the street to take a stand in closer proximity to the protesters. Their presence seemed to agitate the protesters, but the counter-protesters persisted. Some stood silently, and others tried to engage the protesters in dialogue to understand the basis for this bizarre cross-issue hate speech.
In the end, they packed up into their van with Ohio license plates and drove off.
Many masked Davidsonians stood around and talked about what they had just witnessed. Some talked about whether the counter-protest fueled the visitors’ speech. However, most agreed that since college students and even some high school students were the targets of their verbal hatred, there was no option but to stay and show solidarity.
There were individuals among the counter-protesters being labeled by a sexual identity, which is never easy – especially with a bullhorn on Main Street in our town. Perhaps that could still be accepted as protected speech. What took many to the edge was the vile racist use of the N-word directed at a college student. Shocking. Thankfully, the student used unbelievable restraint and the situation was diffused.
Proud to be a part of the Davidson community.
Addendum: But that might not be the end of the story. A Google search to determine if the N-word is protected speech revealed a news story from Connecticut posted just before 6 p.m. today. This afternoon the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled unanimously that using the N-word in a threatening manner is not protected under “free speech.” We at News of Davidson hope that legal interpretation will spread across the nation.