Alamance County Taking Back Alamance County North Carolina (ACTBAC NC), a neo-Confederate hate group, will host an 8 p.m. “Twilight Service” Thursday night at McCorkle Place, the site of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s monument to Confederate dead.
Known as “Silent Sam,” the statue was torn down by a group of protesters last week, sparking ire from white nationalists, “Confederate heritage” groups and North Carolina Republicans.
On Saturday, a protest sprung up regarding the state legislature’s ruling that the statue must be returned to its pedestal per North Carolina law. An ACTBAC member, Barry Brown, got into a scuffle at the event and was arrested after punching a protester.
This is not the first time that an ACTBAC rally has resulted in arrests. Last May a “Confederate Memorial Day Celebration” in Graham, North Carolina, made headlines after two active duty U.S. Marines, Michael Joseph Chesny and Joseph Warner Manning, climbed a rooftop and unfurled a banner painted with a white nationalist slogan and icon. The rally was also attended by Kyle Rogers, the former webmaster of a website that has been linked to the radicalization of Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof.
Chesny was later outed as “Tryone,” the username he used to post in planning logs for the deadly 2017 Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally. News footage of the event shows crowds of white supremacists and white nationalists chanting “Jews Will Not Replace Us,” a variation of the common white nationalist trope Chesny and Manning painted on their banner for the Graham ACTBAC NC rally. Manning and Chesny were discharged from the Marines in 2018 for their involvement with the banner drop.
ACTBAC NC was first listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in the fall of 2016, shortly after the group was founded in 2015 to protest the sale of a church property to a local Muslim community for use as a mosque. Gary Williamson, the group’s founder, has tried to distance the group from those origins and has since deleted anti-Muslim screeds posted on the group’s Facebook. He has been plagued by the fact that several members of ACTBAC at the time were also members of a closed page run by the North Carolina chapter of the neo-Confederate hate group the League of the South.
ACTBAC still has problems moderating its Facebook presence. As reported by The Times News, individuals took to ACTBAC’s page to make such comments as “We missed our chance to stand for our state and our country and carpet the lawn with the bodies of these bastards.”
Regarding an ACTBAC member punching a protester, Williamson has touted Brown’s actions as self-defense and reasserted that his group is “non-violent.”
Brad Griffin, who runs the white nationalist Occidental Dissent website under the pseudonym “Hunter Wallace,” has previously been critical of the “heritage community,” members of which ardent white nationalists often refer to as “ rainbow c---federates.” Occidental Dissent covered the protest on Saturday in a post that described the “good optics” of Barry Brown punching a protester.
The racist “alt-right” burned many of its bridges with red state conservatives after wedding themselves to neo-Nazis, the Klan and other far right groups. It appears events like the protest at “Silent Sam” will continue to represent an opening for them to reassert their messaging as one of mainstream appeal.
Photo from REUTERS/Jonathan Drake