After Charlottesville, Group Demands Hollywood Take Down Confederate Street Signs ASAP

After Charlottesville, Group Demands Hollywood Take Down Confederate Street Signs ASAP
Photo Courtesy of the Black Lives Matter Alliance of Broward
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In June, a group of avowed white nationalists harassed a gathering of peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters who had gathered in Hollywood, Florida, to demand that the city change three streets named after Confederate generals and the original grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. After a massive, multiday PR boondoggle, the city relented and said it would vote in August on whether to change the street names.

In the meantime, representatives from those white nationalist organizations — the Florida League of the South and Identity Evropa — attended last weekend's #UniteTheRight gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a 20-year-old terrorist drove a car into a crowd of leftist protesters and killed one of them, Heather Heyer.

Now those same Hollywood activists are demanding that the city take down the street names immediately in order to avoid yet another confrontation with violent white nationalists. The measure to change the signs passed during a preliminary vote last month but needs final city commission approval before becoming official.

"We continue to see escalation," Broward County activist Carlos Valnera tells New Times. "We are thinking that something is going to happen with some of the groups organizing the counterprotesting."

At the March rally outside Hollywood City Hall, one white nationalist stood in a Florida League of the South T-shirt while waving a massive white-and-black flag from the white nationalist group. In Charlottesville last weekend, high-ranking members of the Florida League of the South, including chapter head Michael Tubbs, were photographed at rallies and standing by as other white supremacists used sticks and flagpoles to beat a black man, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Tubbs, who has a mane of long gray-blond hair reminiscent of Dog the Bounty Hunter, can be seen in the background of the fight that begins 26 seconds into the following CNN clip:

Likewise, members of Identity Evropa, a national white-supremacist group that concentrates on converting college-aged members into young agents of racial hate, have disrupted multiple events in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties. This past June 24, some of the group's Florida operatives walked into a private activist meeting in Wilton Manors, attended by many of the same people protesting Hollywood's street signs, and unfurled a banner reading, "No regret. We apologize for nothing." (The group used the same trick at a Miami-area immigration panel discussion a few weeks later.)

Multiple Identity Evropa members, including their head, Nathan Damigo, were seen carrying torches in Charlottesville.

The anti-Confederate protesters now say they fear a confrontation is inevitable if Hollywood holds another meeting to debate whether to change its street names, and they demand the city commission act fast to protect public safety.

Valnera, the activist, also fought to help remove Confederate monuments in Tampa. In that instance, a pro-Confederate group called Save Southern Heritage Florida compiled a dossier on more than 100 civil rights activists, which included their names, photographs, and sometimes even their contact information or addresses. (Valnera shared a copy of the dossier with New Times.) Valnera says he fears that activists are being targeted by white nationalists for the basic request that symbols of racism and slavery be placed in history's dumpster.

"Because of all of that, and because of what happened this weekend, we're very concerned," he says.

Hollywood has three streets named for Confederate Gens. John Hood, Robert E. Lee, and Nathan Bedford Forrest. The last earned the nickname "the Devil" during the Civil War after he ordered the slaughter of a battalion of black Union soldiers. After the war, he became the first grand wizard of the KKK.

On August 30, the city will vote on whether to rename the streets Macon, Louisville, and Savannah, respectively. The activists demand the city make a decision to change the names pronto. A Change.org petition the group is circulating also demands the city complete the name-change process within six months, avoid using dual street names, and reimburse residents for the $25 fee to change the addresses listed on their driver's licenses.

"There is NO EXCUSE for the City of Hollywood commission to delay this decision any further by waiting until the August 30th commission meeting, which will yet again draw these armed, violent domestic terrorists to Hollywood, FL," the group wrote online.

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