Supporters of the president’s re-election bid yelled “white power” from pickup trucks in “Trump convoy” in Alamance County organized by neo-Confederate activist Gary Williamson.
The slogan, long associated with violent white supremacists, was yelled at least twice as the convoy passed an intersection in downtown Elon where professor Megan Squire silently held a sign reading “Black lives matter.” Squire teaches computer science at Elon University and is a renowned expert on right-wing extremism.
The parade, billed as “Alamance County Trump Convoy and Ride 2020,” assembled on the track of Ace Speedway during a rally organized by Alamance County Young Republican Chairman TL Mann.
Mann and some local Republican candidates attempted to distance themselves from the convoy after questions were raised about some of Williamson’s Facebook posts. Williamson updated his Facebook profile on Sept. 2 to display a photoshopped illustration purporting to show President Trump pinning a medal of honor on Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old who faces murder charges in the deaths of two men involved in protests against the police in Kenosha, Wis. after police shot Jacob Blake in the back. A day earlier, Williamson posted an image showing a spiked baseball bat impaling the skull of a man wearing a ski mask displaying the communist hammer-and-sickle, along with the text, “Crack open a red one.” Williamson is the founder of Alamance County Taking Back Alamance County, a group that promotes Confederate monuments and flags.
A handful of vehicles in the Trump convoy promoted local GOP candidates, including trucks with large wooden campaign signs erected in the beds, including Dennis Riddell, a candidate for NC House in District 64, and Ryan Bowden, a candidate for Alamance County School Board. A vehicle bearing a car magnet advertising Alamance County Commissioner Bill Lashley’s campaign for reelection was also part of the convoy. Riddell, Bowden and Lashley did not respond to questions for this story.
Other Republican candidates were represented with placards displayed in the windows of vehicles in the convoy.
Mann, the county Young Republican chairman who organized the rally at Ace Speedway said he went to go get his oil changed instead of participating in the convoy. In response to questions from TCB, Mann said in a Facebook message that he finds “any use of ethnic slurs or insults atrocious” and believes that “racism has no place in our country.”
“Anyone who says anything that horrible should be ashamed of themselves,” he said. “I would not condone it or any form of racism in my presence…. Any type of racism will not be tolerated in my meetings/events, including the Confederate flag, racial slurs and any type of insults.”
About three minutes after the lead vehicle passed through the intersection of Haggard Avenue and Williamson Avenue at the edge of the university campus, a man driving a large black pickup truck shouted, “White power!” in Squire’s direction. The truck flew a Trump flag from its bed and the passenger held another Trump flag.
Less than a minute later, two men riding in the back of another pickup flying American and Trump flags addressed Squire by name. One of the men yelled, “White power” while extending his arm in what appears to be a Nazi salute.
Other participants in the procession also yelled, “All lives matter.”
In June, Trump retweeted a video of a man in a golfcart parade at the Villages retirement community in Florida yelling, “White power.”