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This article was published 19/8/2017 (817 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The racial tension and violence unfolding in the United States is a "multi-faceted, socio-political crisis," American actor Danny Glover told the audience at the annual Unifor Canadian Council at the RBC Convention Centre in Winnipeg on Friday.
In reference to the violence in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend, when the country saw one of the largest white-power rallies in decades, Glover told several hundred unionists, "Our nation became a grotesque spectacle on the world stage."
Best known for his role as Roger Murtaugh in the Lethal Weapon film franchise, Glover first cut his teeth as an activist in the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
Since then, he’s been involved in many economic and social-justice movements.
Following his address, Glover was swarmed by fans looking to take a picture with the 71-year-old actor, before he fielded questions from the media — many of which revolved around the political situation simmering in his home country.
"There is a way we all seem to turn a blind eye to what is happening... One of the problems is acknowledging it. Once you acknowledge it, you reframe the narrative and discourse about it," Glover said.
"The intent in Charlottesville... was to create a climate of fear using violence from the right to undermine the people’s will."
A current issue causing controversy south of the border revolves around the removal of Confederate monuments from public spaces.
The issue served as one of the catalysts of the "Unite the Right" rally held in Charlottesville, Va., as plans had been made to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a public park.
The rally led to open violence on the streets of the small college town and left 32-year-old Heather Heyer dead after an alleged neo-Nazi sympathizer drove his car into a crowd of protesters.
"When I see Robert E. Lee, I see someone who in a sense was pro-slavery. I see someone who was an officer in the U.S. army and for most people could be considered a traitor. It’s a symbol. It symbolizes white supremacy," Glover said.
"We all know the Civil War happened. We learned about it in school. I don’t need to walk in a park and see Robert E. Lee, or Stonewall Jackson, to know that it happened."
He also criticized U.S. President Donald Trump’s reaction to the violence and welcomed the resignation of Richard Trumka from one of the president’s advisory councils.
Trumka is the head of the AFL-CIO, which is the largest labour union in the U.S. Following a rash of similar resignations, Trump disbanded both his manufacturing council and strategy and policy forum.
"We were all appalled by how the president reacted to it (Charlottesville), in a sense blaming it on those people who were the anti-racists. So I think it (Trumka’s resignation) was the appropriate thing to do," Glover said.
"We can conjure up visions of men being lynched, being murdered and lynched, and buried and killed during the civil rights movement, but this happened in this moment in time in the 21st century."
While the interview dealt with recent violence and racial tension in the U.S., Glover’s address to the union (of which he is a honorary member) was hopeful, discussing economic justice movements and the struggle for progressive change.
And for the Lethal Weapon fans in attendance, he didn’t disappoint, capping off his address with a riff on his character’s well-known catchphrase.
"I’m not too old for this. We’re not too old for this... for solidarity and to build a better world."
Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.