Charleston, SC, November 12, 2017 by Bonnie Cleaveland
Friday night, November 10, 2017, I attended the Citadel Republican Society’s Patriot Dinner. A friend and I decided we’d document the event. I wanted to bear witness, from the inside, to Steve Bannon’s visit to Charleston. Here is my account, part 1.
November 11, 2017
Insomnia plagued me last night. When I finally drifted off around 5:30 AM, I dreamt of vampire rape and Nazis, repeatedly waking and falling back asleep.
I’ll tell you the end of the story first. My friend and date for the Patriot Dinner – a kick-ass nasty woman – was arrested last night. Her way is not my way, but I support her without hesitation and consider her a hero. In my almost 49 trips around the sun, I have never been there when someone I know was arrested.
There’s good video of her protest and arrest, so you can watch it if you choose. http://abcnews4.com/news/local/steve-bannon-citadel-protester-interrupts-detained
She was set off when Bannon said that it was the hand of god that elected Trump. She had a “blatant dissent” t-shirt under her blouse and blazer. She took off the outer layers, went to the middle of the room, and yelled the question, “Was it the hand of god that made Trump grab pussy?”
She was carried out, one holding each limb, by police officers. She went limp, knowing the history of peaceful protest, and knowing that she did not want to be disrespectful to the police nor be accused of resisting arrest.
They told her they were taking her to jail on three charges: trespassing, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest. She was brave, asking how she could be trespassing when she had a ticket? She told them her respect for police officers and that she was not resisting arrest. She was handcuffed and put in the back of the police car.
I didn’t witness any of this, as I was resolved to do my job as I a saw it – to document Bannon’s speech to the end. My heart was pounding, since my cover was blown. Partly, I was a coward. I knew that walking out with her would subject me to verbal abuse from the crowd. I didn’t think then, but I think now, that I might also have been arrested had I gone with her.
There’s so much more of the story to tell, but I’m going to tell it in pieces. I have so many notes. I’ll explain the white supremacy we experienced immediately upon entering the venue. I’ll talk about the Bannon speech itself. I’ll explain it all, eventually: The police presence, the screening before entry, the SLED agents with their khaki vests full of what I imagine to be ammunition, the men in suits talking into their sleeves, the African Americans in the audience whom I wondered – perhaps, if they were allies of the #resistance. This, which reveals my own prejudices. We all have them. The measure of our character is whether we question our own beliefs about those who are different.
Follow Dr. Cleaveland on Twitter: @CHSPolitico