When the editor of a weekly paper approached me about writing a regular column about local politics, the first thing I asked her was: “Are you sure you know what you’d be getting yourself into?”
That was February. I had been live-tweeting Charlottesville city government meetings for a year and a half, ever since the deadly Unite the Right rally in August 2017. Entirely by accident, I had created a fairly large audience for what amounted to municipal meeting minutes narrated by a mouthy socialist.
Though I had never written for a publication before, my concern wasn’t whether I could produce readable content. It was whether the paper was prepared to be targeted by two primary detractors of my work: neoliberals and neo-Nazis.
I wrote just six pieces before the column was canceled. Two centered on the need for police accountability in a city traumatized by the memory of officers standing by as neo-Nazis beat residents in the streets.