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‘March to Confront White Supremacy’ passes through Gainesville

GAINESVILLE — Multiple groups of people on Monday moved along Route 29 in Gainesville as part of the “March to Confront White Supremacy.”

A cluster of state and local police took position near a bridge near University Avenue about 9 a.m. At various stops along the road, about 100 walkers would eventually join the walk which arrived in Gainesville on Saturday night.

After spending Saturday night at various locations around Gainesville, and driving places as far as Charlottesville to join them, walkers set out again at 9:30 a.m. bound for Fairfax County.

Some wore signs that read “Justucia,” the Spanish word for justice. Some pushed baby strollers. Marchers ranged in age and ethnicity.

The marchers were to have started at the WaWa on Route 29 in Gainesville Monday. But the night before, the decision was made to move the starting point further north the highway because they had made better than anticipated progress the day before.

The group is expected to arrive in Washington tomorrow to demand President Donald Trump to step down from office.

The marchers

By the time the march had reached the Manassas National Battlefield Park, a group of participants had stood by a shuttle bus parked in the Stuart’s Hill Visitor’s Center. They shared water and snacks and met an eclectic group prepared to join others at the Stone House at Manassas Battlefield.

Teacher Margaret Murphy from Fairfax said she wanted to march because she has a “passion to eliminate white supremacy.”

“I believe in justice for all,” she said.

She also marched in the Women’s March and immigration march earlier this year in Washington D.C.

Asked about being paid to march, she laughed. “That would be nice,” she said, joking. “I think we could all use it.”

Matt Gibbons is a native of Northern Virginia, now living in Maryland, but who worked for more than a decade in Gainesville. He said he had seen a lot of changes in the area.

“The march is a great opportunity to make your voice heard. The people who are coming out here are being affirmed. They are getting to do something. But marching in and of itself doesn’t do anything. Hopefully, it affirms people to go back and do little things, maybe confront their family members when they say something racist, things like that,” said Gibbons.

Mateo Guerrero, Co-organizer, came from the non-profit “Make the Road New York” to help with the march.

He said business owners are on the front line of the equality fight.

“Businesses are important for providing services. They can help fight oppression by hiring minorities and fighting for liberation,” said Guerrero.

Co-organizer Caleb-Michael Files said they were cognizant of the traffic. “We do a thing we call flushing,” he said. “If traffic gets backed up, we move to the road shoulder and stand for ten minutes and let traffic pass. The only time traffic was a problem was a few days ago in Culpeper. There was a backup.”

Unscheduled stop

According to a press release, participants in the 118-mile-long march also made a previously unscheduled stop at the Loudoun County office of Representative Barbara Comstock to demand that Rep. Comstock publicly oppose the end of DACA, the deferred action program for immigrants who came to the United States, and to Section 287(g), which deputizes local law enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration law.

More than 50 marchers rallied outside Rep. Comstock’s district office for two hours, sharing stories of the impact that reversing DACA would have and the impact of empowering local police departments to enforce federal immigration law. The marchers also wrote dozens of handwritten letters to Rep. Comstock while standing outside her office and constructed a banner in support of DACA.

The march website states, “We are marching from Charlottesville to Washington D.C. to demonstrate our commitment to confronting white supremacy wherever it is found. It’s clear that we can no longer wait for Donald Trump or any elected official to face reality and lead. We are coming together to reckon with America’s long history of white supremacy so that we can begin to heal the wounds of our nation.”

As of Monday evening, the marchers had finished 97 miles of their 118-mile journey from Charlottesville to Washington.

March Against White Supremacy_Sept. 4, 2017
Margaret, Matt, Elaine _ March Against White Supremacy_Sept. 4, 2017
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