Black leaders speak on Charlottesville violence

AmNews Staff Reports | 8/13/2017, 9:42 a.m.
Black leaders speak condemning the "Unite The Right" rally in Charlottesville, Va. and President Donald Trump's handling of the situation.
Rev. Al Sharpton

NAACP

“The blatant racism on display in Charlottesville is absolutely disgusting. It’s hard to believe that in 2017 we are still plagued by so much race-based hatred. The NAACP will always stand against hate and any persons who threaten the moral right of our community,” said Derrick Johnson, interim president and CEO of the NAACP.

“These kinds of actions should come as no surprise, however. We are living under an administration that campaigned on hatred, discrimination and xenophobia. They have given permission and a platform for bigots, like the right-wing, white nationalists in Charlottesville, to thrive and spread violence.

“While we acknowledge and appreciate President Trump’s disavowment of the hatred which has resulted in a loss of life today, we call on the President to take the tangible step to remove Steve Bannon – a well-known white supremacist leader – from his team of advisers. Bannon serves as a symbol of white nationalism and his high place in the White House only energizes that sentient.

“We must help to bridge what divides Americans rather than widen the gap between us. In the meantime, the NAACP stands strong with our brothers and sisters in Charlottesville who are gathering, marching and singing for peace. We are and will continue to be steadfast and immovable in the fight against discrimination, prejudice and hatred – and we are not afraid.”

National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial

“Horrifying expressions of white supremacy and Nazi sympathies sadly are nothing novel in the United States, even in the 21st Century. What is shocking is that these demonstrations - with apparent deliberate fatal assaults against counter-protesters - should take place without a clear condemnation from the highest levels of government. What we are witnessing is a failure of our national institutions. We in the Urban League Movement call upon everyone with a voice on our national stage to condemn these demonstrations and these racist sentiments in the strongest possible terms. This is not who we are as a society and as a nation.”

Black Lives Matter

In the face of hatred and vitriol from the Ku Klux Klan and white nationalists, we support the people of Charlottesville who are advocating against fascism and anti-Black racism. As we have organized over the last four years in the interests of protecting all Black lives, we have also sought to make clear that the State harms Black people and other marginalized folks on a regular, daily basis. The white supremacist violence we are witnessing in Charlottesville is not new; instead it is constant, ever-evolving and a staple of American culture and society. While the images from Charlottesville make this sort of violence plain, it is the more insidious forms it takes in everyday life through the dehumanization of Black communities, the lack of access to healthcare and affordable housing, and the targeting and criminalization of Black bodies that must also be addressed. Charlottesville is putting on display some of the ways in which white supremacy is fueling a genocide against Black people, both in this country and across the world.

We live in a world where Black people are targeted for death and destruction; and in a country where there are hundreds of statues and monuments are dedicated to the confederacy, we cannot be surprised when moments such as these happen-- in fact, Charlottesville is a confirmation of the violence that Black people must endure from day to day. While the President and his advisors significantly contribute to the lack of safety that Black folks experience and are accountable for incredible harms inflicted on communities of Color, they are mere symptoms of white supremacy and xenophobia, which are far greater enemies than just one Administration. We call on everyone to pay attention to the ways white supremacy manifests in our workplaces, our schools, and our homes. It is necessary that the horror that many people are expressing turns into tangible action to improve the material conditions of Black folks in this country.

Rev. Al Sharpton

"The current state of emergency in Charlottesville and loss of lives is a scathing reminder to us all that the fight for justice is not over – we still have so much more to do. But we cannot forget that this is also a symptom of the rhetoric the Trump Administration has supported since the Presidential Election and into the White House, promoting violence, attacking civil rights, and allowing organizations backed by bigots to thrive.

The National Action Network calls on President Trump to address the causes of these events, denounce the white supremacists at the very heart of this conflict, and start working towards peace.

On August 28th, NAN, along with faith leaders of all ages, will unite at the Martin Luther King Memorial to send a message that religious communities will not stand by idly as atrocities like these are committed and rights are stripped from people in their congregations including voting rights, health care, economic opportunity, criminal justice rights, and more. We stand with the counter-demonstrators in Charlottesville, and will continue to fight for justice across the country.

Rev. Jesse Jackson

President Donald Trump offered the citizens of Guam in the face of provocation an assurance of safety; he should do the same for the citizens of Charlottesville, Va., in the face of provocation.

To be silent is to encourage the militaristic, hateful, un-American behavior we are witnessing in the streets of Charlottesville as hundreds of neo-Nazis, Klansmen and their supporters gather in that historic college town.

They must not be given a comfort zone. The President must condemn this invasion of hate in the strongest terms.

At the same time, we must make absolutely sure we do not resemble these club wielding lost souls in any shape or form in our words or deeds. We must follow Michelle Obama’s beautiful advice.

“When they go low, we go high.”

We must resist their evil effort to drag America backward not with bricks and bats but with conscious righteousness, truth, faith and love, the weapons we have always used to overcome on our way to the mountaintop.

Public Advocate Letitia James

What is happening today in Charlottesville is beyond disgraceful & not representative of most Americans. We shall overcome this hate and violence.

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka

"The people of Newark stand in solidarity with the People’s Organization for Progress (POP) and all Americans concerned about the future of our democracy. We abhor the racist violence that has terrorized millions in this country for centuries. It is shameful that this violent and racist fascism has been given permission to rear its ugly head again by the man who occupies the most powerful elected position in our nation. The president’s tepid statement denouncing the violence fell short of calling the enemy by name.

"In all of his bombast and loud talk against this nation's enemies, he continues to remain silent on one, white supremacy. By not calling out the white supremacists who act in his name and carry his spirit, President Trump only encourages and empowers them. I call on the President to join with all who treasure our democracy in speaking out against those who would destroy it with hate and violence

Assemblymember Michael Blake

“My thoughts and prayers go out to the 32 year old woman whose life was taken and to the at least 35 people injured in Charlottesville today due to acts of domestic terrorism. I also thank and commend the men and women of Virginia State Police, Charlottesville police, medical staff, elected officials, local leaders, clergy, students and activists who stood up to help protect and heal their community peacefully. We can and must do better than what happened today. It is a moment for leading with actions not tweeting with ambiguity.

It is disgraceful that President Trump is apparently more comfortable with satisfying members of his base than speaking truth to power and denouncing ALT right, domestic terrorists who are raising their hands promoting Nazism and white supremacy that we all witnessed in Charlottesville. He failed a true test of leadership, especially by creating a false equivalence of pain and responsibility in claiming that today's violence is evidence of it occurring "on many sides". Today and last night's violence was largely due to white supremacists attacking their fellow Americans, plain and simple. Given President Trump's continual, divisive and discriminatory rhetoric and actions against Muslims, Latinos, African Americans and countless communities, it is absolutely reprehensible that the President chose to promote dog whistle politics and mince words today when politically convenient by not attacking white supremacy including forcefully condemning the words of David Duke and neo-nazis."

Ben Jealous

Not far from here in Maryland, hatred and ignorance has gathered in Charlottesville. We have to remember that progress is not linear -- when Donald Trump won the election, it was a stark reminder of this fact. And today we are reminded again.

The answer to this is not hopelessness, it can't be. No matter how justified or cathartic, what changes things is organizing, voting, protesting and ensuring that we elect leaders committed to our values.

So, today we have another sober reminder that the fight for civil rights is not over. And tomorrow, we continue fighting for what we know to be true: the diversity of our country is what has made us great.

Councilmember Jumaane Williams

Dear Mr. Trump,

At this point, in terms of "many sides" they are;

1.) Those who do NOT believe in White supremacist and Nazism and,

2.) You and Making America Great Again supporters.

Arva Rice, President and CEO of the New York Urban League

“Unfortunately, violent acts of white supremacy are a part of our national history that cannot be denied. But we cannot remain silent and allow the deliberate division of our country into us and them. Our nation’s leadership - President and Attorney General - must condemn these acts, work actively to stop them, and take responsibility for their part in the rise of racism masked in anti-political correctness. Leadership requires actions that protect all American citizens. The President and the Attorney General are sworn to enforce the laws of this nation, and encourage respect for difference. We in the Urban League Movement call upon everyone with a voice on our national stage to condemn these demonstrations and these racist sentiments in the strongest possible terms."

One Hundred Black Men, Inc of New York

One Hundred Black Men, Inc. of New York (OHBM), the founding chapter of the nationwide organization, 100 Black Men of America, strongly condemns the horrific violence that took place in Charlottesville, Va. and denounces all overt and covert forms of white supremacy that lead to ongoing displays of bigotry and racism in this country. OHBM passionately supports the removal of the statue of General Robert E. Lee as it stands as an affront to the progress of civil rights and race relations in the state of Virginia and our country.

OHBM strongly affirms the courageous choice of Kent Frazier, CEO of Merck, to step down from President Trump's American Manufacturing Council, and firmly believes that America's leaders must openly and actively reject hatred and bigotry that runs counter to character to the founding ideals of America.