The day after violent demonstrations led by white supremacists and Neo Nazis turned deadly in Charlottesville, Virginia, residents of Hattiesburg, Mississippi and students from the University of Southern Mississippi took a stand against its own local pro-Confederate demonstrators.
“The Hattiesburg community has been troubled yet silent for too long in response to the USM Delta Flaggers’ weekly showcase of white supremacy on our campus,” said Anna Beth Rowe, an organizer of the counter-protest who is with the South Mississippi Democratic Socialists of America.
For the 94th week in a row, supporters of Mississippi’s Confederate emblem-bearing state flag showed up at the entrance to the university, displaying Confederate flags, state flags, and Confederate themed Trump flags. They’ve protested in the same spot ever since the university took down the state flag in 2015, following the Charleston massacre, where 9 black churchgoers were killed by a neo-Confederate white supremacist.
This time, the state flag protesters were met with resistance from residents and students carrying anti-racist signs, including a Black Lives Matter banner.
The photo below shows organizer Anna Beth Rowe confronted by a state flag protester. “We’re the winners! You’re on the wrong side history!” the pro-Confederate demonstrator shouted as his jabbed his finger at Rowe. “No, we’re on the right side of history!” counter protesters shouted back.
In Charlottesville, 32-year-old Heather Heyer was killed after a white supremacist rammed his car into a crowd of peaceful counter demonstrators, injuring over a dozen.
“The act of domestic terrorism in Charlottesville yesterday and the loss of our sister’s life led Democratic Socialists of America to hold solidarity vigils across the country Saturday evening,” said Rowe. “We held ours at the Confederate Monument downtown and were led to organize the counter-protest today after moments of silent meditation on white supremacy nationally as well as its specific embodiment in the current state flag.”
One of the counter-protesters at USM carried a placard with Heyer’s photo on it that labeled her death as part of the “heritage” of the Confederate flag.