Honeoye Falls feels the fallout from Charlottesville

Aug 17, 2017

The recent rally and violence in Charlottesville has sparked some local controversy.

Credit Martin Kaufman / WXXI News

One man, Jarrod Kuhn of Honeoye Falls was identified from a photo as having taken part in the rally that involved white supremacist groups. He was  hoping to protect the statue of Confederate leader General Robert E Lee.

Last Friday and Saturday, white supremacists and anti-fascist groups clashed over the removal of a statue of Lee, resulting in the death of Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old protesting the white supremacists. She died when a car plowed into a group of people. A number of others were injured.

Though he declined to speak on tape, Kuhn’s father told WXXI News that his family received death threats and he was worried about how his other children would be impacted when they go back to school.

But others are trying to focus on creating a more welcoming environment in the village. A sidewalk on Main Street in Honeoye Falls had messages of peace written in colored chalk.

On the issue of monuments to Confederate leaders, Shane Pickford of Honeoye Falls says it’s simple. These monuments need to come down and protest needs to happen nonviolently.

“We should be taking down all monuments to war,” he said. “That doesn’t mean memorials for the men and women who have sacrificed their life but anything that glorified war and that includes statues of generals and the only reason they have a statue is because they’re a general. I don’t think that’s a good enough reason to have a monument.”

Credit Martin Kaufman / WXXI News

Barbara Snape protested, saying the statues are part of history.

“I think they’re very important to history, I do. It saddens me to think they have to be torn down the way they are and now they feel they have to take them down to prevent more damage, and unrest and rioting.”

She added that the death of Heyer was an unnecessary tragedy asking, “how can anyone listen to that mother speak about her daughter not dying in vain and not have tears in their eyes?”

“These people were traitors,” said Joel Archer who described himself as very angry about the protestors. He said the memorials and the hate that surround them have no place in America. “The statues of the confederate leaders were of…considered traitors. Traitors to the United States.”  

“It’s getting worse and I’m not surprised by it,” he said, discussing the hate and anger in the nation. “It’s not just this town and this area. There’s lots of people who sound the same if you just listen to what they say but when you dig beneath the surface there’s this incredible hatred.”

Shane Pickford is among those who just don't want to see more violence. “If you want to stand out there for as long as you want and speak your mind, well, that’s what America was built on,” said Pickford. “You can do that and that goes for both sides, but keep it peaceful.”

Credit Martin Kaufman / WXXI News

The Mayor of Honeoye Falls, Rick Milne was concerned about an effort that started on social media and ended up with flyers printed with a specific address for the Kuhn family that were distributed all over the village.

“This was targeted against a specific individual saying where the person lives, etc.  And in my opinion, that’s not the way to handle concerns," Milne told WXXI News.

Milne says he condemns racial bigotry and any actions that do not treat people with respect and dignity. He is hoping for some community meetings on this issue in the coming weeks.