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August 14, 2017

President Must Act and Speak Boldly to Prevent another Charlottesville

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 13, 2017 

President Must Act and Speak Boldly to Prevent another Charlottesville
A statement by Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.

  

 

As shocking and sad as the events were in Charlottesville, Va. on Saturday when an anti-racist demonstrator and two law enforcement officers were killed during an invasion of white supremacists, no one should have been surprised.

 

Given whom President Donald Trump has hired for his administration, and the policies he is pursuing, the explosion in Charlottesville was practically inevitable.

 

In the 1960’s, segregationist Georg Wallace was a governor. The ruthless and cruel Bull Connor was a sheriff.

 

This is different. This is more dangerous than the 60’s.

 

Donald Trump is the President of the United States of America with white nationalists in his inner circle in the White House, the people’s house.

 

Richard Spencer, the public leader of the event in Charlottesville, and Steve Miller were classmates at Duke University and are close friends.  Who is Steve Miller?  He is the President’s speech writer, accounting, perhaps, for the President’s weak response to the weekend of violence.

 

Steve Bannon, the President’s top adviser, is the former head of Breitbart News, which he said was a platform for the alt-right or, more precisely, white nationalist/supremacists.

 

These men must go. They must be fired.

 

Along with cleaning house, the President should convene a White House conference on racial tensions, causes and cures, racial and gender disparities and a plan to address and rebuild the most depressed areas of the country – urban, rural and reservation. In a time of crisis and imminent threats, silence is betrayal. Neutrality is the art of non-decision making. It is cowardly.

 

Unless the President acts boldly and speaks powerfully condemning white supremacy and the right-wing coalition of hate, there will be more Charlottesville’s in the future.

 

As I write on Sunday afternoon, Seattle is on edge as police try to keep apart a group of white supremacists and anti-racist demonstrators. Tear gas hovers in the air. 

 

The President has a lot of work to do to reverse the situation. There is a pattern of this White House condoning and inspiring with a wink and a nod the kind of white male supremacist groups that appeared in Charlottesville over the weekend, including a 1930’s Nazi-style torch march Friday night.

 

The pattern is the birther movement. The pattern is demonizing the Central Park 5 wrongly convicted of rape.

 

The pattern is saying a Mexican judge cannot dispense justice. It is barring Muslims from the United States, turning away refugees, mocking what the Statue of Liberty stands for. It is building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

 

The pattern is shifting resources in the Department of Justice from pursuing violent white supremacists to pursuing anti-affirmative lawsuits. The pattern is calling the Voting Rights Act of 1965 an intrusion of state’s rights rather than an expansion of our democracy.

 

No telling what else will be added next to this list of shame. It’s only been eight months.

 

Meanwhile, we pray for the families of the victims and heroes of Charlottesville – Virginia state police officers, H. Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Berke M.M. Bates, who died in a helicopter crash, as they patrolled the racist mayhem from the sky and Heather D. Heyer, 32, who was killed when an alleged white supremacist plowed his gray Charger into a crowd of anti-racist demonstrators.

 

At least 19 other demonstrators were injured, five of them critically, in the white supremacist terrorist attack.

 

But as tragic and heartbreaking as the last couple of days have been, the events of Charlottesville have strengthened my belief and faith in America. Watching the diversity and sacrifice of the resistance, it is clear the nation is not going to be driven backward by fear, but forward by hope and love, love for country and each other. 

 

-30-

 

 

 

 

Don Terry

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