Dre Harris is the bravest person I know. Facing the mirrored horrors of Nazis with metal poles and state-employed pigs who must have heard his screams, Dre survives. He tells his story. He tells his story knowing that a vicious beating is only the beginning of their attack and that rotting hearts beat in all in the institutions around him.
Mark is the bravest person I know. He is the first person to step out from the park as we march to defend the public housing complex from the fascists. I go ahead to do reconnaissance. I remember to glance furtively past the corner before crossing the alley. It is clear. I run to the mall, searching for the cordon of police I saw just moments before. There aren’t many of them. We are many. We continue to march. Mark walks with long open strides. The bullhorn is comfortable in his hand. His shirt is bright and red and his fist is raised into the hot sun.
Tamara is the bravest person I know. Whatever happens today, she must walk this road to work tomorrow and maybe back home in the dark. She grabs a vuvuzela and intermittently blasts it toward the line of riot police as she screams “no racist police!” with as much force as she can. She presses forward into the street, one of the first to defy the wall of police. Stares down the corner where the nazis are expected to appear any minute. She blasts the vuvuzela again.
The residents of Friendship Court public housing are the bravest people I know. The Nazis are coming and they prepare to defend themselves. Worried the march might draw police to the complex, they ask us to march on. They say, #WeGotThis.
Abdulelah is the bravest person I know. He knows he is risking potential deportation to document the day but he wants the world to know what happened here, and he knows CNN can’t be trusted and NBC can’t be trusted and fuck Fox News. He sprints past the black and pink shields again and again to get the best angle. The heat is brutal and I go to him and we step aside and I touch his shoulder and I hand him the water and
Jeremy is the bravest person I know. He is numb. Like I am numb. He stays. Hands out the gauze from his medical pack. The National Guard crests the hill in their armored truck. Police appear from everywhere. Sirens, screaming. The wounds need pressure.
Audrey is the bravest person I know. Today is her third ever demonstration. She squats, pressing a piece of gauze to a wound. Holding her new comrade’s hand. Later she tells me that she remembers little of the moment it happened. Except that she could touch the car. Years from now, I imagine, she will still remember the strange warmth of the crumpled metal.
Heather Heyer is the bravest person I know, even though I only learn her name in time to mourn her.
Heather Heyer is the bravest person I know. I am sure because I have met her hundreds of times. I am sure I will meet her again.
Names and identifying information which have not been publicly identified have been changed to protect those individuals from doxxing and other harassment and violence by the far-right.
Trish Kahle is a journalist and writer currently based in North Carolina, where she is working toward completion of a PhD. Her work has appeared in outlets such as Jacobin, Salvage, Dissent, In These Times, The Ecologist (UK), Salon, and Socialist Worker. Her fiction has received the Rondthaler Prize and was runner up for the Black Warrior Fiction prize. In 2009, the Center for Women Writers honored a portfolio of her writing with the Penelope Niven prize. She is a member of the Red Wedge editorial collective.
Photos by Abdulelah Aljawarneh, a filmmaker based in North Carolina. His Vimeo page can be viewed here.