On Monday, July 27th, our friend and comrade, Stephen Loughman, was arrested and charged with “breach of peace” for his support the week before at an anti-KKK rally in Columbia, SC on July 18th, 2015. Local activists had called on folks from across the southern region to help South Carolina’s communities stand against the Klan and other hate groups, who like many groups were trying to use the Confederate flag debate as a recruitment tool.
We would like to bring attention to the many mistakes the media made while covering this story. Even though the chapters of the Ku Klux Klan and National Socialist Movement (a neo-Nazi group) were also from out of state, the media and the local sheriff’s office would have you believe that Stephen makes “a career” out of traveling around and causing trouble. This is blatantly untrue and is a tactic that has been historically used to undermine people’s movements struggling for liberation, particularly in the South. In addition, the skewed coverage by WISTV10 also fails to mention Stephen as an explicitly anti-racist protester, potentially putting his reputation and safety on the line. Stephen was also never contacted for his part of the story. While we understand that white power hate groups have a history of seeking retaliation against people who oppose them, including harassment, intimidation, and physical violence, we want to take this opportunity to clarify why Stephen was there because the media did not do so. This irresponsible coverage has the potential to put our friend in real danger in a multitude of ways.
The smear campaign that has begun against Stephen is an obvious attempt to distance South Carolina residents from any image of discontent and anger against both popular and institutional white supremacy. The KKK and the NSM are trying to defend and proliferate white supremacy at all costs. In the wake of righteous sadness and anger, fueled by Dylann Roof’s acts in Charleston, the state and the police still stand to protect these and other hate groups that inspired him. His political violence in the murder of 9 black people was a spark that lit the fire against institutions set up in South Carolina centuries ago. From the clandestine attacks on a dozen black churches, to the every day brutality of police departments and prisons across the country, we can be sure that white supremacy is alive and well in the U.S.
Although Stephen was in direct contact with the arresting officer the day of the protests, he was never arrested or told he had a warrant until he went back to South Carolina to retrieve his confiscated phone a week later. He was then taken to the deplorable Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center, where he was held in unclean facilities. Steve has since had to see a doctor for a Staph infection he received in custody.
Don’t let the authorities and the media paint the events of July 18th as the work of a lone white anarchist. The communities that stood against white supremacists, the true “outside agitators,” that day did so on their terms, to defend their city. If that means calling friends for help, so be it.
Towards a world without white supremacy,
The Defend Steve Support Committee
to donate to Steve’s support efforts:
A sample of the ludicrous coverage: