Two sides to every story

Published 10:34 am Tuesday, August 22, 2017

I refrained from immediately jumping into the war of opinions in the wake of the violence that erupted in Charlottesville, VA on Aug. 12. There, one side was angry about a majority vote decision made by the Charlottesville City Council to remove a statue of General Robert E. Lee, Commander of the Army of Northern Virginia during the War Between the States. The other side voiced their approval of the Council’s decision.

What took place in the middle of the streets of Charlottesville mimicked a page torn from the pages of Civil War history. There was fighting, there was blood, there were injuries, and there was death.

That’s not supposed to happen in America, a place where free speech is accepted and celebrated. But, unfortunately, both sides were hell-bent on protecting their beliefs and we witnessed one of the worst days in our nation’s proud history.

I personally have no ties nor am I a member of any white nationalist or neo-Nazi group. Both organizations are full of hatred and have shown a tenacity acts of violence.

I personally have no ties nor am I a member of any alt-left group or the Black Lives Matter movement. Their race-baiting tactics are harmful to society, especially to those who tend to follow others blindly.

What I do personally believe is there are two sides to every story.

I’ve read countless reports from both liberal and conservative based publications that seem to indicate that the locals in that Virginia city who opposed the removal of Lee’s statue had planned to gather peacefully to express their viewpoint. They had already expressed their opposition, by peaceful means, during an earlier public hearing held by the City Council.

It appears that their planned protest attracted the attention of several white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups, who flocked to Charlottesville by the thousands….the great majority from other states. Typically, it’s the “outsiders” who stir the proverbial stinkpot.

In defense, the alt-left and anti-fascists groups – their masses also dominated by those from outside of Charlottesville – made their way to that college town in support of the Council’s decision.

Things got ugly when they met Aug. 12 along the streets of Charlottesville, to include a young woman that was killed.

In the aftermath, President Trump caught a lot of heat by not immediately calling out the while nationalists and neo-Nazis for their dastardly deeds. Rather he said the blame is shared by both sides.

It took me a while to absorb all news accounts of that dark day in our nation’s history. From what I read, the President was right to say that both sides are at fault.

Even though it appears that the white nationalists and neo-Nazis were bettered armed with shields, bats and even handguns/rifles (but no shots were fired), they were not the only individuals engaged in violence that day.

The Los Angeles Times cited eyewitness accounts of that day. Those reports cited Washington Post reporter Joe Heim: “Counter-protesters fought back, also swinging sticks, punching and spraying chemicals. Others threw balloons filled with paint or ink at the white nationalists. Everywhere, it seemed violence was exploding. The police did not move to break up the fights.”

BuzzFeed News reporter Blake Montgomery: “Conflict would start much the same as it has at other alt-right rallies: two people, one from each side, screaming, goading each other into throwing the first punch.”

University of Virginia student Isabella Ciambotti: “I was on Market Street around 11:30 a.m. when a counter-protester ripped a newspaper stand off the sidewalk and threw it at alt-right protesters. I saw another man from the white supremacist crowd being chased and beaten. People were hitting him with their signs. A much older man, also with the alt-right group, got pushed to the ground in the commotion. Someone raised a stick over his head and beat the man with it.”

In the wake of all this tragedy is a movement to erase all references to the Confederacy in public places. I would suggest that before you make up your mind pro or con to that movement, take the time to read and completely understand both sides of the issue. Then make up your mind and be at peace with your decision.

Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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