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It’s time

8/18/2017, 2:07 p.m.

It’s time for Johnny Reb, skinheads, the hooded Klan and closet racists at the office and who live next door to wake up and understand that it’s not 1865 any more. 

The Civil War is over. The South lost. 

The statues of Confederates must come down.

The senseless violence in Charlottesville has displayed for the nation and the world what we, at the Free Press, have long pointed out — that these statues venerating Confederate traitors are symbols of power for neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, the alt-right and other extremists who cling to the false notion of white supremacy and the domination of others. And just like the generals the statues portray, their white nationalist supporters are willing to fight — and kill — to keep the status quo.

In June 2015, white supremacist Dylann Roof went to Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, S.C., sat through a Bible study and then pulled out a .45-caliber handgun and opened fire on the pastor and the parishioners, all African-Americans. He killed nine people in an attempt to start a race war.

Last Saturday, James Alex Fields Jr., with the same twisted mentality, came from Ohio to Charlottesville, marched with white supremacists opposing the removal of that city’s statue of Confederate Robert E. Lee and then got into a car and plowed through a crowd of counterprotesters. He killed one woman and injured 19 other people, some critically.

How much more violence must leaders in Richmond and other Southern cities require before they understand the perverse meaning that clings to these Confederate statues? How many more deaths at the hands of white supremacists will it take for the statues to come down?

There should be no more confusion or misunderstanding about what these statues represent.

This tumultuous time in Charlottesville has shown us who our true leaders are. To no surprise, President Trump has failed that test. His initial failure to denounce white extremists and to address the murder of Heather Heyer, coupled with his excuses on Tuesday and blame of others, show once again that he is a bigot and racist. His defense of what he called “the very fine people” at the white nationalist march has given the green light to white supremacists. By his wink and nod, they know their terrorist activities can go forward uninhibited by any genuine checks by the Justice Department or federal authorities. 

Trump supporter David Duke, a former Imperial Wizard of the KKK and a frequent visitor to Chesterfield County, thanked President Trump in a tweet. 

On Saturday, Mr. Duke told reporters he was at the rally in Charlottesville because it represented “a turning point for the people of this country. We are determined to take our country back. We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in. That’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back. And that’s what we’ve got to do.”

It’s time for Mayor Levar M. Stoney to grow some backbone. While he capitulated on Wednesday and said his impotent Monument Avenue Commission now may consider removing the Confederate traitors along the tree-lined street, he hasn’t gone far enough. He needs to show true leadership and push City Council to take the statues down.