NAACP leaders call people to action following recent events

GARNER, N.C. (WTVD) -- The NAACP is pushing back about recent racist vandalism, fliers from the Ku Klux Klan which have shown up on local yards, and a series of African-American churches going up in flames.

At a news conference Thursday in Garner, leaders of the civil rights group called people to action.

"Don't react," said Wake-Apex NAACP leader Portia Rochelle.

It's simple advice but not always easy to follow. Especially when confronted with overt racism and bigotry.

Their basic message: that you don't have to - literally - fight racists to fight against racism.

"If there's a situation in your neighborhood or confronts you personally," said Rochelle. "We are asking you... we are urging you to call 911."

Rochelle said she's concerned that racist actions could prompt good people to do dumb things.

"It's enough people being killed in our land," said Rochelle, "foolishly and senselessly. Even without the KKK doing this kind of activity."

By "this kind of activity," Rochelle is referring to KKK recruitment fliers, which were passed around a neighborhood near Garner a few days ago.

"Feeling that white privilege is under threat causes these kind of reactions," said NAACP member Joyce Russell.

"White privilege" is the concept that there is an often intangible, inescapable advantage Caucasians enjoy because of skin color and decades of institutional racism.

"Every once in a while we get in a lull," said Russell. "And as much as I would like to hope that this is the death knell [of white supremacy], I certainly cannot subscribe to that belief. Every once in a while we get into this lull and until we get to the root cause of the disparities that we see in America. I think we always are going to see these upticks [in racism] once in a while."

Russell says it's critical to push back against racism and bigotry so it doesn't spread; she points to the shooter in the Charleston, South Carolina massacre as evidence.

"What we saw from him is certainly not something that incubated in his own mind," said Russell. "I have to believe that there were persons who were feeding him this kind of information."

"They're speaking out," said Rochelle. "That's why we can't keep silent. One lady said, 'Why are you having a press conference? You're only promoting [the KKK].' I said, 'No, I don't see it as a promotion. I see it as letting them know that we're not going to sit back and be quiet and not respond and not prepare our people.'"

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