Summary: A Chicago rally to memorialize Heather Heyer, killed in Charlottesville, Virginia, brought together a community of activists aiming to push back against Trump-style protofascim, white supremacy, police terror, and other new forms of oppression — Editors
A protest in Chicago Aug. 15 challenged ascendant neofascism and its champion in the White House, Donald Trump. As the rally kicked off in the late afternoon, 500 people on hand glimpsed a large homemade sign with the smiling face of Heather Heyer. It memorialized the antiracist activist who was run down and killed three days earlier in Charlottesville, Virginia. The accused attacker, James Fields, Jr., is associated with white supremacists gathering in the college town that day. Nineteen other antiracist activists were injured in the same attack.
The Chicago rally was organized by Black Lives Matter and was supported by Arab American Action Network, Organized Communities Against Deportations, Jewish Voice For Peace, the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression and other groups.
One of the speakers, Filipino youth activist Julian Ignacio connected the rise of white supremacy with the Trump-Bannon jingoist nationalism in the Philippines and with local racism in the form of police murders of Rekia Boyd and Laquan McDonald by Chicago cops.
Jacob Record from the Trans Liberation Collective reported on the Chicago police shutting down SlutWalk on the same day as the events in Charlottesville. SlutWalk is a yearly protest organized to show solidarity with survivors of sexual assault and to end rape culture. Where formerly SlutWalk was tolerated, on Saturday five were targeted with arrest, among them TRANS activists, with one charged with attacking an officer, which is a felony and a further measure of repression.
As people joined the rally from feeder protests in the suburbs and getting off work, the protesters marched across downtown. They shouted “No Trump, No KKK, No racist USA!” and “No wall, No registry, No white supremacy” The march stopped at a site near Trump Tower and speeches resumed.
Kofi Ademola from Black Lives Matter in Chicago reminded the crowd that since mid-January, we had given the finger to Trump at that very spot, we had massed at O’Hare Airport to defend travelers from banned countries, and solidarized with Standing Rock against the Dakota Access Pipeline. At the same time hate crimes have risen like never before, Ademola declared, but also solidarity has deepened, as with the TRANS community, and with movements against poverty, inter communal violence, school shutdowns, and graft in Chicago city government.
Page Mae of Assata’s Daughters told the story of Henry Smith, who was memorialized by Ida B. Wells after he was lynched in 1893 by a white racist mob. Wells wrote of the banality surrounding the publicized event. Importantly, Wells also avoided assessing blame on individuals but rather argued that institutional racism requires a deeper change.
Other speakers demanded a proposed Civilian Police Accountability Council be created to replace Mayor Emmanuel’s puppet Independent Police Review Authority and denounced the pusillanimity of the AFL-CIO on the events of the weekend. Kofi Ademola’s closing words encouraged all to get involved in organizations and to support them financially.