All of us at Free Speech For People are heartbroken and outraged by the white supremacist violence that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia this past weekend. We send our deepest condolences to the family of Heather Heyer, who lost her life standing up for peace and justice, and to the families of Pilot Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, who died in a helicopter crash while trying to prevent further bloodshed. Our thoughts are also with all of the other victims injured by this racist act of terror.
We stand together with all Americans who are denouncing the neo-Nazi and white supremacy movements, which converged on Charlottesville and led to the tragedies this past weekend. Sadly, they have a long history in our country, and we must remain vigilant in standing up and speaking out against this racism, hatred, and bigotry. And we must do so now more than ever because these movements today have the implicit — and sometimes explicit — support from the highest levels of our government.
It’s no secret that white supremacists have been emboldened by the rhetoric of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and by his current administration. That is not speculation; it’s what they themselves are saying. They heard Trump’s rhetoric about immigrants, about protesters, about countless other groups. And they witnessed his incitement of violence at his campaign rallies against those who dared to stand up to challenge his racist and hateful statements.
The preamble to the U.S. Constitution provides that “We the People of the United States” establish the Constitution “in Order to form a more perfect Union.” We cannot achieve a more perfect Union if powerful government officials endorse, or refuse to immediately condemn, hatred and violence against our brothers and sisters.
Soon after the election last November, we issued a statement calling upon then President-elect Trump and all public officials “to completely and totally repudiate all elements of discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, gender identity, gender expression, color, sex, sexual orientation, age, national origin, disability, veteran status, or any other protected group status, and all forms of authoritarian governance that threaten the constitutional rights of all Americans.” We renew that call today.
Free Speech For People pursues our work with such passion because we believe that people, first and foremost, are entitled to dignity and political equality under our constitutional system. Donald Trump’s presidency has undercut not just the letter of the law with his violations of the Constitution, but also the spirit of it when he is silent in the face of grave injustice.
We stand with Charlottesville, and with all others committed to peaceful resistance to protect justice, equality, and democracy for all.