CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP, WCAV) — Political activist Cornel West and faith leaders from around the county have announced plans to counter-protest white nationalists who will be rallying against Charlottesville's planned removal of a Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee statue.
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At a press conference at St. Paul's Memorial Church, members of Congregate C’ville, joined by community and university leaders from across Charlottesville, discussed the demonstrations and quoted West in a statement saying he's coming to join the counter-protest of the Unite the Right rally on Aug. 12 in Charlottesville.
Brittany Caine-Conley, lead organizer for Congregate C'ville , says the coalition asked for 1,000 clergy and faith leaders to counter the rally that she says will be a display of people who are trying to make the white race dominant.
"We must pray and work to dismantle white supremacy within ourselves, within our congregations, within our communities,” said Caine-Conley.
Local clergy and faith leaders are still planning events for the weekend, but have already announced St. Paul's will host a mass prayer meeting at 8 p.m. on Friday before the rally the next day.
The Reverend Elaine Ellis Thomas, the associate rector at St. Paul’s, said that event is open to all faiths and is reminiscent of events the church held in Charlottesville during the Civil Rights movement.
"This congregation has a long and storied history of standing up for the poor and the marginalized in the town and city of Charlottesville," said Thomas.
The local faith leaders said they plan to set an example of nonviolent resistance, and Reverend Brenda Brown-Grooms, pastor at New Beginnings Christian Community, expressed her concern for the safety of all who may attend.
"We need to know that we're going to be safe, that we won't be attacked by police, and that everybody's First Amendment rights will be recognized," she said. "But we want our city to still be standing when we leave this place."
For more information about Congregate C’ville’s plans for the Aug. 11 through 13 weekend, click here.
Local activist Jason Kessler is organizing the rally that will feature various white nationalist organizations and leaders.