Sunday, August 16, 2015

A study in three-part (dis)harmony

(Photo by Phil Shirk)

On Saturday, August 15, self-professed "rednecks" gathered at the Weis Markets parking lot in Columbia to prepare for their planned "rebel run" through the town.  The run was in indirect response to an incident that occurred last Monday night in the borough, involving a Confederate Flag. 

Meanwhile, in town there was a heavy police presence in anticipation of the run. Police departments including West Hempfield, East Hempfield, Manor Township, East Lampeter, New Holland, and Millersville - as well as the Pennsylvania State Police - backed up the Columbia force. There were also reports of federal agents in the area due to the potential for hate crime.

Young people - black and white - walked militantly to the proposed "parade" site on South Fourth Street to show racial unity and protest the "rebels."

 State troopers cruised through town in patrol cars . . .

. . . and on a motorcycle.

Police also used bike patrols to canvass the area.

 Crowds gathered on South Fourth in anticipation of the run.

 This motorcycle and sidecar duo passed through the area while the street was still open.

During the wait, two Confederate Flags were mounted on a pickup truck parked on Fourth - in the midst of the crowd - but were later removed.

(Video by Jesse)

A Puerto Rican-American family across the street brought out their colors and also showed their patriotism by displaying an American Flag.

A Columbia police officer talked to the crowd.

After hours of waiting, reports filtered through the crowd that the rebels had been thwarted in their plan to ride through town. The authorities would not allow it. The gentleman shown above then offered much-needed comic relief by walking down the street and performing - to the delight of the crowd.

 He was wearing a makeshift "robe" fashioned from a bed sheet (tablecloth?) in mockery of a KKK outfit.

He reassured the crowd that they need not fear anyone wearing such an outfit, because this is how ridiculous they would look.  

The anticipated crisis was over.

Or was it?

 A short time later, rebels gathered at Plane and Manor Streets. A crowd of protestors gathered there also. So did police.

Tensions were high. Unfortunately, some in the crowd taunted a black man who was with the rebels. When he attempted to respond, his compatriots restrained him and advised him to leave the scene to deescalate potential conflict.

Dave Chohany, one of the key players in the recent controversy, talked with police. Chohany's Confederate Flag was stolen from his pickup truck while it was parked near Sixth and Walnut Streets last Monday night, an incident that reportedly precipitated Saturday's rebel run.  

 More police officers from various departments arrived on the scene.

 David Chohany carried a Confederate Flag.

 A woman talked to the "rednecks" . . .

. . .  and pleaded for understanding.

 A state police officer talked to a citizen.

This teenager, allegedly another key player in the recent controversy, left the scene after shouting obscenities at the rebels. He can be seen in a video from last Monday night, snatching a Confederate Flag from the the bed of David Chohany's pickup truck and slamming it onto the street.

Soon after, rednecks left Plane and Manor and gathered once again at Weis Markets parking lot but soon dispersed from there. Once again, tensions were thought to have dispersed, also.

But a short time later, tempers flared once again. An incident on South Fourth involving a misunderstanding over bicycles spun almost out of control when a girl resisted arrest, and she and another suspect had to be subdued by police. In the midst of the melee, a West Hempfield police officer activated his taser and aimed it at members of the crowd in an attempt to restore order. The light from the taser's laser sight can be seen on the upper chest of the girl in the red shirt, in the photo above (which is a still shot from a video).  Two suspects being restrained by police can also be seen in the shot. Although this incident was not directly related to the rebel run, citizens had been on edge all day out of anticipation.  The girl involved suffered cuts to her mouth. A video of the incident is shown below.

Arrest on 4th Street - Part 1

Arrest on 4th Street - Part 2

Arrest of second suspect on 4th Street

A frame from the video, showing the second suspect being arrested by police.

Mayor Lutz arrived to observe the scene . . .

. . . and offer direction.

After this third incident, police maintained foot patrols in the area and responded to various minor incidents throughout the night.

Overall, police showed admirable restraint in the face of provocation and did a good job of deescalating conflict several times throughout the day.


  1. Cole ... an excellent job! You've done a great service with the thorough chronicling of this passing blemish.

    Thank you.

    Brian Long

  2. You say you are offended by the N word but you use the word "redneck". That is racist as well.... Hypocrisy much??

    1. They call themselves that, thus the term "self-professed rednecks." David Chohany calls his comrades "rednecks" in the article here:

  3. Yea and it's ok for blacks to call themselves the n word

  4. Hey everyone how was your weekend? My families was great. Oh maybe that's because we went about our business as usual and didn't play into this bunch of crap!!!

  5. "My families"? I take it you weren't reading a dictionary over your great weekend.

  6. Yet another person wanting to turn their back on what is actually happening in their community. Pretending this did not happen will not help. Ignoring it only breeds more anger. Keep to yourself, don't get involved and everything will be taken care of by others.

  7. you know what is sad is that someone is makeing money from all this hatered, its so sad, come on people we are Americans, maybe the Columbia spy should show pic's from 9-11 when Americans stood together helping each other, with what ever they could offer, there was NO saying hay I just want this or that to go to a certain race, we can't change History but we sure can learn from it, perfect example, Native Americans, not putting them down but had they banned together and helped each other and United then I guess they would not almost be extinct, who is trying to keep our attention on fighting each other? Think about it people don't let another tragedy bring us together, we got homeless and starving people right here, NOT trying to sugar coat here, But I have to tell you, I don't like what going on but Bobbi Joe Bortner was my neighbor at one time, our row home hesr included was on fire and guess what I remember about her, she jumped out a window and banged on everyone doors to get out there was a fire, she banged on my door, I am of mixed race and she warned everybody, she didn't care what color you were all she did was try to get everybod out, it is a shame it takes something realy bad to unite us, I was a single mother of 4 and after that fire I was relocated my self and other familes lost everything, And let me tell you I never was so over touched in my entire life as how Columbia and other people came to all our needs, people from every color nationality came to my door donated Christmas gifts, furniture, food diapers some came in big red trucks, so it I was kinda hurt when I was at weis with my granddaught and daughters and someone yelled a racial slurr at us, with no reply from us we know where and why this is happening, it is so sad because my son who is also of mix, he spent 8 years of his life defending this country and yes he was deployed, so it seemed like a slap in the face when we were called a name, but its all good I blame shit like this blog and the media on keeping the ball rolling, Just to get money and attention, I have no hate towards anybody not even the ones that don't like me because of my race or skin color, I just hope that one day fellow Americans will promote peace among us and unite together as Americans insted of this crap that just angers people, enough lives have already been lost, don't let us be so destracted that we all get wiped out by someone who is getting rich from it or some dictator take us all over

  8. No one is trying to promote any hate here. This is a report of events as they unfolded. If you cannot face the facts, then go read Dr. Seuss. Who is earning money from "all this hatred?". There is no paid advertising on this website, nor is any money being made here. Thanks for posting this story Cole, you did an excellent job.

  9. I was not referring to this sight getting paid I am referring to the media that keeps it going, I get it people are angry , anyway I do face facts every single day, sorry that I was not more clear on what I meant, every time the media put something out there they get paid why is it we hear oh this person of a different race did something to this person of another race and it happened say Arizona, why is it being said here? To start people up that's why, they sell sell sell and get paid then it keeps going because it will piss someone off then the shit starts here, oh well we don't live in a perfect world, but I did my part to try to make it a little better, I taught my kids that No one is any better or less than anybody else,

  10. I think it was awesome that the major came!!

  11. The mayor should be there, after all he wants to run this town and that includes all of the people living here, not just the well behaved, taxpaying residents.

  12. Where is his armor and camouflage outfit?