Black Latina journalist receives death threats in interview with KKK leader
Following the Charlottesville protests on 11 and 12 August, racial tensions are at the top of the American political conversation at the moment. A Unite the Right rally held on Friday August 11 near the University of Virginia, bringing together several white nationalist and supremacist groups whose members marched while carrying torches - images reminiscent of Ku Klux Klan marches. The following day, the rally escalated and counter-protesters also showed up to stand against the white nationalist protesters.
The face-off between both sides soon came to a head when one protester alleged to be 20 year old James Alex Fields, Jr drove his car into a crowd of protesters. This assault killed local 32 year old paralegal Heather Heyers and injured 19 others. Fields has now been charged with second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and failure to stop in an accident that resulted in death. Police have also said that Fieldsa resident of Maumee, Ohiohas been charged with two more counts of malicious wounding and three counts of aggravated malicious wounding.
Fields, Jr. has been charged with five additional felony counts related to last week's "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he allegedly rammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, according to Charlottesville police. Fields has so far been charged with second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and failure to stop in an accident that resulted in death. He also faces five additional charges, including two more counts of malicious wounding and three counts of aggravated malicious wounding.
Field's former teacher Derek Weime has commented on his alleged crimes, saying Fields possessed "outlandish, very radical beliefs" and a "fondness" for Adolf Hitler. Weime teaches social studies at Randall K. Cooper High School in Union, Kentucky.
"It was quite clear he had some really extreme views and maybe a little bit of anger behind them. Feeling, what's the word I'm looking for, oppressed or persecuted. He really bought into this white supremacist thing. He was very big into Nazism. He really had a fondness for Adolf Hitler."
The suspect was being held without bail at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail. His next scheduled court date is August. 25. Against this background, a Latin-x TV platform called Univision visited a KKK compound with a black female reporter in order to understand the perspective of nationalists. A brave Black latina journalist ventured into this area, and actually sat down to interview a couple of unapologetic racists who emphasised their hateful viewpoints.
News anchor Ilia Calderon interviewed Christopher Barker, a leader of the Ku Klux Klan's 'Loyal White Knights' for the Univision show Aquí y Ahora. In the course of Calderon's questions, Barker exploded in a hate-filled tirade, calling her a racial slur, threatening to "burn" her and referencing the Holocaust as an example of white nationalist achievement. The video is quite disturbing so watch at your own risk.
It was incredibly courageous of Calderon to speak to supremacists on their own turf, particularly after the recent violence which had erupted in Charlottesville. As these events continue to unfurl a difficult conversation about race in America, it does not appear that an end to these ongoing tensions is on the horizon. However, journalists like Calderon are doing important work to document the current situation in order to shine a light on a problem some argue America overlooked for too long.