Update: At least one Hollywood Police officer was photographed posing for selfies with the white-nationalist protesters, who were waving signs and wearing shirts representing the League of the South, a neo-Confederate, white-supremacist organization.
Update 2: Hollywood Police have defended the officer who took the photo, saying it wasn't a political statement.
Hollywood, Florida, contains three streets that need new names ASAP. One is named for Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, who has absolutely no ties to Hollywood. Another is named for John Bell Hood, who also fought to keep slavery legal in the United States.
And the third is, astoundingly, named for Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general who later became the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
South Florida residents protest the street signs every few months, but nothing ever really changes. Today a protest outside Hollywood City Hall showed exactly why the signs need to go: A group of avowed white supremacists showed up to counter-protest, and they brought Confederate symbols, white nationalist flags, (including Kekistan flags, which represent a fake country populated by Pepe the Frog Nazis created on the website 4chan), and a few leftover Donald Trump campaign signs.
At the 11-minute mark in the live video below, the protesters begin to chant "Trump!"
One anti-Confederate protester, Jasmen Rogers of the Black Lives Matter Alliance of Broward County, said the KKK supporters were also chanting "Blue Lives Matter!" and "White Lives Matter!" while people tried to ask the Hollywood City Commission to take down symbols honoring people who fought to keep slavery legal.
At least one person carrying a flag in the clip above has been photographed in the past wearing a neo-Nazi pin. He happened to wear that pin at a rally in order to defend former state Sen. Frank Artiles after the politician used the N-word in front of a black colleague:
New Times also snapped a photo of the same guy waving a Confederate flag at the Miami Climate March April 22:
In the video clip above, he was waving a white flag with a black, Confederate-style cross on it. That flag represents the League of the South, which the Southern Poverty Law Center defines as a "neo-Confederate group that advocates for a second Southern secession and a society dominated by 'European Americans.' The league believes the 'godly' nation it wants to form should be run by an 'Anglo-Celtic' (read: white) elite." (Other photos from the event show that the flag-waver was wearing a shirt with the "League of the South" logo emblazoned on the back.)
Rogers says today's protest was aimed at showing the city commission that more citizens are noticing that the street signs named for white supremacists serve no purpose in South Florida and only work to embolden the worst and most cretinous dregs of American society.
Floridians don't need more encouragement. Just after the election, a Miami man, David Sanguesa, screamed "Trump!" at a black Starbucks employee when his order took too long and then called her "trash." A New Times and ProPublica investigation published this week shows that dozens of hate-fueled incidents have been reported across Florida since Trump took office.
State Rep. Shevrin Jones, who attended and spoke at the rally, said the white-supremacist counter-protesters showed exactly why Hollywood needs to remove the Confederate signs.
"We're not fighting with them," Jones said to the crowd, pointing back at the white supremacists. "We're fighting against a time in history that divided our country."
He added, "If Louisiana can do it, if Mississippi can do it, if Tampa can do it, Hollywood can do the same thing!"
After his speech, however, Hollywood Police had to form a small barricade between the activists and the smaller contingent of pro-Confederate counter-protesters. Hollywood Police did not immediately respond to a phone message from New Times, but protesters say officers made multiple arrests.
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"The protesters kept inching closer and, eventually, police had to form a wall in between them and us," Rogers says. "There were a lot of cops and a lot of antagonism from the counter-protesters."
As the brief skirmish died down, Rogers said someone shouted, "I don’t care about black lives either!"
"Those are the types of people we’re supporting by leaving these signs up," Rogers says. "They made it really painfully clear why these signs need to come down."