A statement from the Durham branch of Workers World Party: On the toppling of Confederate statue


“…It is crucial at this time of the rise of neo-Confederate forces that our movement not just retreat to defensive measures. The far-right is emboldened by Trump and an entire administration that supports and protects white supremacy, and is also desperate because of the rotten conditions resulting from capitalism at a dead end.

We had to have a bold answer to the white supremacists killing an anti-racist protester. Without this bold action — which has now spawned many more offensive actions — there was a serious risk of white supremacist and paramilitary right-wing organizations continuing to snowball and recruit.  We had to stop them in their tracks, and not allow them one inch or one moment to breath without their feeling the power of the people reclaiming our righteous course of history.

Resisting genocide and reclaiming public space for the working class

Confederate monuments were erected across the U.S. South directly after the post-Civil War period of Reconstruction, an unfinished revolution where Black people fought for their freedom. When the federal government betrayed Black people and pulled out its armed support for their freedom, the white slave owning landowners did everything in their power to recapture Black people and hold them in bondage again. This was the period of enforcement of the Black Codes. During this period, the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist organizations were utilized as paramilitary shock troops. The Confederate statues were erected to re-establish white power and were a public expression of white supremacist ideology.

The Confederate monument was placed outside of the Durham County Courthouse in 1924 during the Jim Crow era, long after the Civil War and at a time of massive growth of the KKK.  It was a deliberate attempt to intimidate Black people and remind them that their relationship to power had changed very little since “Emancipation.” It was also a clear expression of the purpose of the courts and the prisons: to continue the institution of slavery. As Marxists, we understand the evolution of the repressive institutions of slavery into the prison-industrial complex in today’s stage of capitalism.

Durham’s Confederate monument was dedicated “to the boys who wore the grey.”  Comrade Takiyah Thompson commented, “The boys who wore the grey are the boys who wear blue today.” In the U.S. South, the police have their origins in slave patrols sent out to recapture freed Africans. This legacy is deeply embedded in the police today. In fact, many police departments actively recruit from white supremacist organizations and collaborate with them in secrecy. This was documented as having occurred during the 1979 Greensboro Massacre…”

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