Posts Tagged ‘Racism’

Don’t Come ’round Here No More

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

INDIVIDUAL: agent Jim Hanson
GROUP SIZE: 260
NATURE OF GROUP: 20 cops, 20 reporters, 12 Klansmen, and 200 protesters
INCIDENCE: Don’t Come ’round Here No More 

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“We don’t need no hate today! We don’t need no KKK!”

On January 15, 1996 at 3:00 PM the Ku Klux Klan planned to demonstrate and protest against the celebration of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on the steps of the Wyoming State Capitol Building in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Their event was to follow an event celebrating MLK Day on those very steps at 12:00 PM. Anticipating conflict and confrontation, I knew I had to be there.

The Ku Klux Klan really knows how to have a good protest. Past protests I’d read about were to protest protesting protesters protesting the jailing of a black man. Another was a protest against Vietnamese fishermen. In both of these protests the Klan hung an effigy representing the group they were protesting.

I decided I would protest them, using their own tactics. I made an effigy of a traditional Ku Klux Klan member being hanged by a hangman’s noose and a sign that said, “Don’t Come ’round Here No More,” mounted to a wooden cross.

I am a blond-haired, blue-eyed, white male with a shaved head and a pure-bred pit bull dog. His name is a Sanskrit word meaning noble or pure (feel free to look it up)… Because of the way I look, people judge me as one who judges others by the way they look – a racist. I’m aware of this. I try to make others aware and question their judgmental beliefs.

My protest would send a message to two groups. Those protesting the Klan would see a stereotype alongside them. The Klan would see that same stereotype and question their own beliefs as to who supports them.

On the day of the rally my skate-bro and backup Rob, my dog, and I met Jill, accomplice number three, at the McDonald’s off of I-25 on the south side of Cheyenne. While we ate, two skinheads came in to do the same. I wondered if I would see them at the rally…

After we ate, we went back to the Capitol. The first thing I noticed were the cops, everywhere; in cars, on horses, walking around the growing crowd in groups of two to five, guarding all entrances, videotaping from a second level balcony… A five-foot-tall, hunter orange barricade was set up all around the Capitol steps, limiting access to the Capitol. There were at least 20 cops guarding the inside of the perimeter, along with 20 members of the press. The cops seemed ready to crack skulls.

The Klan had set up speakers on the steps and were blasting Irish bagpipe music. There were seven skinhead youth (including the two from McDonalds) and one older, long haired guy holding flags on the steps behind the podium. They held their flags, eyes straight ahead, faces held seriously in conviction of their beliefs, never faltering despite the 20 mph wind gusts. About 200 people had gathered outside the perimeter. The crowd was rather white but the other colors numbered more than the state’s average of 95% white. People were milling around in groups, talking amongst themselves, waiting for the music to stop and something to begin. I became aware that because I looked like a skinhead, I was somewhat alienated from the crowd. Some people looked at me funny and I heard comments… But really… I had a pit bull on leash…

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Don’t Come ’round Here No More

I went back to my truck to get my sign and effigy. Go time. I made it about 20 feet from my truck and was waiting to cross the street when a friendly police officer insisted on my attention. He told me I couldn’t bring the wood my sign was posted on to the protest. Ok, cool. I surrendered the wood for the sign and continued on with the Klansman hanging by its neck from the wooden cross. I walked across the street where I met six police officers who wanted to check out my effigy. They made me remove the wooden cross and had to call their supervisor to be sure I could even have it on the grounds. Permission was granted and I was given leave.

I walked another 30 feet when I was stopped by another group of cops. They wanted to know what I was doing. They also had to call it in. They didn’t know what to think.

Looking for a good hanging pole, I opted for a stop sign in clear view of the podium. I immediately tried to throw my rope over it. It slipped off, again and again. A group started to form around me. Some guy suggested that I hang myself with the rope. He said it three more times, until someone clued him in. I was approached by another police officer. He told me I couldn’t hang my effigy on the stop sign. I asked if I could hang it in a tree? “No.” Over the perimeter barricade? “No. You must keep it in your possession.” Four other cops joined him. One of them told me I couldn’t have my noose on the demonstration grounds as it could be used as a weapon. I told him I wouldn’t lose the noose.

First Amendment enacted, I made my way to the front of the barricade and hung my effigy into the no-go zone.

People started cheering. The cops on the inside of the barricade started to move in, and every camera I saw turned my way. Press were scrambling to get their money shot. The cops made me hold the effigy outside of the barricade but I’d made my point.

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The press – getting the statement

Four Klan members spoke, including the national director Thomas Robb. They spoke out against illegal aliens, homosexuals, and blacks while trying to promote themselves as a group that respects diversity but “want what is every white person’s birthright.” Thomas Robb spoke about what a terrible man Martin Luther King, Jr. was and how it is terrible that a black man has his own day. He said that white Americans were being sold out by our elected officials. He claimed it was the crowd that promotes hate, citing obscenities and shouting against his self-proclaimed moralistic behavior.

The majority of the crowd seemed intent on shouting down the Klan speakers. Several chants broke out including, “We don’t need no hate today! We don’t need no KKK!” and “Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you!” Many people expressed that they would like to fight the Klan members. Unfortunately, no
violence broke out.

I never moved from my spot by the barricade and held the noose as high as I could. I pointed at the speakers and taunted them with the effigy. Four reporters asked for my name and where I was from, a few asked for statements. Several people from the crowd wanted to talk and take pictures… The Klan ended their speeches at about 5:00 PM and started to play more bagpipe music. It seemed like a good time to leave.

Conclusion to this Incidence Report from agent Jim Hanson
If we ignore the Klan [and other white-nationalist groups], tolerance is implied. However, when we attack them with violence, we make them martyrs to their cause. When we co-opt their symbols, and reflect their effigies of violence back at them, we have an opportunity to invert their arguments.

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Denver Post, Tuesday January 16, 1996 (click to enlarge)

[is] 2016 Update: On February 27, 2016 a KKK rally in Anaheim California erupted in violence as Black Lives Matter activists and Black Bloc anarchists attacked Klansmen as they were arriving at the rally. Three people were stabbed and thirteen arrested. Though counter protests have been a routine feature of KKK rallies, this was one of the first violent assaults.

[is] 2017 Update: On February 2nd, 2017 a planned speech at UC Berkeley by Alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos quickly spiraled into chaos when “Antifa” showed up in force setting fires and pelting the lecture hall with rocks and bricks. 45 tweeted a threat to pull federal funds from UC Berkeley for cancelling the event.

In 2017 Antifa in the US is a somewhat rebranded Black Bloc in alliance with Socialists and Communists. They have picked up the mantle of a loose-knit international movement dating back to the run up to World War II. “Antifa” branded anarchism was most recently resurgent, prior to the Yiannopoulos event, during the 2015-6 anti-austerity riots in Athens, Greece. Antifa, in a dramatic departure from the civil-rights era philosophy of passive resistance, believe physical resistance to fascist groups is both ethical and effective. Tensions in Berkeley between Alt-Right and Antifa came to a head on April 15th at an Alt-right “Patriots Day rally in what has come to be known as The Battle of Berkeley – an extended fight resulting in 11 injuries (six hospitalizations) and 21 arrests.

On August 12th, 2017 a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville Virginia attended by numerous “white-nationalist” groups including the KKK resulted in violence between the white-nationalist groups and Antifa with many non-violent protesters caught up in the melees. Peaceful protestor Heather Heyer was killed and 19 injured by James Allen Fields Jr. – a known Neo-Nazi from Ohio when he plowed his car into a crowd, taking a page from recent ISIS inspired vehicular attacks in France. Unlike the rapid rush to judgement and condemnation by 45 in those instances, the White House waited two days to explicitly condemn white-nationalists before 45 dramatically reversed course and blamed “both-sides”, even coining the term “alt-left” in off-the-cuff remarks at a press conference on infrastructure the following day (prior to mentioning he owned a large house in Charlottesville and plugging Trump Wines which has a large vineyard outside Charlottesville). Justin Moore, the Grand Dragon for the North Carolina based Loyal White Knights of Ku Klux Klan said he was “glad” Heather Heyer died following up with, “They were a bunch of Communists out there protesting against somebody’s freedom of speech, so it doesn’t bother me that they got hurt at all… I think we’re going to see more stuff like this happening at white nationalist events,”

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A version of this report was featured at Sociometry Fair ‘96 in San Diego, California. Don’t Come ’round Here No More was originally reported on by Wyoming Tribune Eagle, Casper Star Tribune, and in an AP article that ran in The Denver Post and many more publications around the country on January 16th, 1996. 

This report was most recently published in is EMANCIPATION a 130 page book with 2-color letterpress covers printed and hand-bound with a Japanese stitch in an edition of 200. is EMANCIPATION is a 21 year anthology of art intervention and prank collective The Institute of Sociometry edited, designed, and partly authored by Peter Miles Bergman and edited by MCA Denver Curatorial Associate Zoe Larkins. 

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