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White supremacists, rumors and demonstrators in Durham

Back in August, after demonstrators brought down a Confederate statue outside the Old Durham County Courthouse, a rumor spread that the Sons of Confederate Veterans — or was it the Klu Klux Klan? — would be rallying in downtown Durham.

What happened next was fascinating – a huge, counter-protest movement materialized which turned the afternoon of August 18 into a rally against the sort of white supremacist event that had just turned deadly in Charlottesville, VA.

But it’s still unclear whether any white supremacists actually planned to rally in Durham – or whether the only two men who argued with protesters briefly outside the courthouse were actually affiliated with any white supremacist group.

Using meticulously collected public documents, WRAL’s Kelly Hinchcliffe and Tyler Dukes put together a fascinatingly detailed run-down of the rumors, what actually happened and how. It’s essential reading if you’ve been following the continued controversy over Confederate statues or the recent rise of prominent white supremacists and their groups.

Dukes’ conclusion: the rumor seems to have come from an unknown source to the sheriff’s department. Info from the sheriff’s department made its way to public officials and to social media, where it was given a signal boost that turned out as many as 1,000 people to protest a rally that may never have been planned.

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