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Civil Rights Groups Condemn Racism, Xenophobia, and Terrorism in Charlottesville

On Aug. 12, the Manzanar Committee, sponsors of the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage and Manzanar At Dusk programs, repudiated the violence, fueled by racism and xenophobia, that occurred in Charlottesville, Va. earlier that day, as well as President Donald Trump’s failure to condemn those who were ultimately responsible for the violence and terrorism that occurred.

“The Manzanar Committee is outraged by the vicious, premeditated attack on peaceful demonstrations this afternoon in Charlottesville,” said Manzanar Committee Co-Chair Bruce Embrey. “Today’s events can only be described as terrorism.”

“These acts must be condemned by all people. The Nazis, Ku Klux Klan, and other fascist groups, are, and have always been, terrorist organizations with no other purpose than to intimidate, terrorize and murder people of color. Domestic terrorism and racist violence have no other goals than to stop the expansion of democracy to those historically denied the full promise of the Constitution of the United States of America.”

Embrey pointed out that what happened in Charlottesville must not be viewed in a vacuum, but is rather part of an alarming, growing trend, fueled by racism and xenophobia, and supported by the Trump Administration.

“The violent attacks on the Muslim, Sikh, Jewish communities, and on communities of color, are not a recent development by any means,” he stressed. “But the increasingly brazen calls for violence against political opponents of these racist groups is deeply disturbing, to say the very least. We cannot separate any of this from the thoroughly reactionary policies being pushed through all branches of the federal government, and in the Justice Department, in particular.”

“The politics and statements by so many elected officials, and members of the Trump Administration, are not mere ‘dog whistles.’ The statements and policies of the Trump campaign, and of the Trump Administration, are calls to action, serving to embolden the most extreme right-wing elements.

“On behalf of the Manzanar Committee, we urge everyone to join with us in condemning these violent acts, the racism and xenophobia that fueled them, and the Trump Administration that, tacitly or not, supports them. We also extend our best wishes to the victims of today’s violence and their families.”

The JACL issued the following statement: “The Japanese American Citizens League joins with the overwhelming majority of Americans who denounce the racism, bigotry, and violence that resulted in three deaths this weekend in Charlottesville, Va. This is not the first overt act of terrorism against a minority community this year, but the first to result in death. The unbridled white supremacist ideology espoused at the rallies in Charlottesville and Seattle must not be accepted as free expression of opinion, but repudiated as an incitement to commit hate crimes against minority communities and individuals. Hate speech leads to hate crimes.

“We take this opportunity to call attention to actions less violent in nature, but equally steeped in racist and bigoted ideology and equally devastating in effect upon minority communities. The Trump Administration has systematically dismantled the very instruments our government has in place to protect minorities from discrimination.

“The Justice Department’s rollback in the use of consent decrees to enforce civil rights laws leaves minority communities more vulnerable to discrimination from the very local government agencies that are intended to provide protection. The administration has indicated its intention to roll back the gains that affirmative action has brought to higher education. The unconstitutional travel ban is a focused effort to discriminate against people solely because of their religion.

“The JACL has a long history of standing against racism and bigotry throughout our 88 years. These are not new expressions of hatred, but rather another mark in the long indelible stain upon our nation’s history of discrimination against minority people and their communities.”

Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice), an affiliation of five civil rights organizations, issued the following statement: “Advancing Justice condemns the unabashed display of hate and violence that occurred over the weekend. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the deceased and the dozens of injured victims.

“While many have expressed shock at the white nationalists who brought their full measure of hate and anger to the streets of Charlottesville, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, African Americans, Latinx, and LGBT communities are all too familiar with the true face of racism seen yesterday. As Asian Americans, our own history is deeply intertwined with white supremacy-driven bans and prohibitions including the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, so-called alien land laws, anti-miscegenation laws, and the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.

“Advancing Justice applauds the bravery of the anti-racism counter protesters who stood up and called out the white supremacists and radical extremists for their brazen display of hate. It is particularly appalling that President Trump chose not to condemn the white supremacy that was on full display yesterday and which led to at least one death. Such domestic terrorism must be condemned as such – ignoring it will only further divide our nation and lead to more violence.

“What happened yesterday is not a partisan issue. There is no spin, no messaging, that can cover up what this is – an act of terrorism. The events in Charlottesville exposed an ugly underbelly in America that communities of color face on a daily basis.

“Asian Americans Advancing Justice mourns those injured and killed and stands with all marginalized communities that are under attack. We applaud the elected officials who immediately condemned the violence in Charlottesville for what it is. Now, Mr. President, we call upon you to do the same.”

Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) Chair Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena) released the following statement: “The protests organized by white supremacists in Charlottesville over the weekend represent a manifestation of hate and bigotry that has unfortunately continued to rise over the past two years in particular; their actions inspired by xenophobic and prejudiced rhetoric and policy.

“The values of these white supremacists are inherently violent towards communities of color and religious minorities, and such demonstrations attack our core American values of inclusion and equality. Make no mistake – President Trump’s failure to directly denounce this ‘Unite the Right’ rally only further emboldens white supremacists and fuels their prejudice. I unequivocally condemn their message of hate and intolerance that was so blatantly on display this weekend.

“And to those who felt intimidated, frightened, or unwelcome because of this march, know that you are not alone. Diversity is our strength, and our community of support far outnumbers their community of hate.

“I stand with the counter-protestors that risked their safety to speak out against hate, and mourn the death of Heather Heyer and the two state troopers who tragically lost their lives this weekend. I also grieve for those injured by these deliberate acts of domestic terrorism.

“Hate has no place in America – we cannot become complacent to this rising tide of bigotry. Nor should stoking racial resentment be a tool for attracting political support. We must come together to denounce and defeat hate in all forms.”

Other CAPAC members also issued statements:

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii): “We must stand up to a culture where white supremacists feel empowered to march down streets with weapons and commit horrendous acts of violence. The president should stop using divisive rhetoric and forcefully condemn white supremacist groups that provoke and practice violence.”

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.): “If we say this is not who we are, it’s on us to show that. I feel a special responsibility, and I hope and expect my colleagues in the U.S. Senate do, too. It’s easy to tweet that hate has no place in America. But no legislator should be allowed to be horrified on a Saturday and then vote to drag America backward on a Monday.

“There is hope to be found. The truth is that the vast majority of Americans are good, fair and just and they want their country to reflect those ideals. And the fact that yesterday’s explicit hate was met with near-universal condemnation affirms my belief in our capacity to overcome evil.

“We don’t have to let extremists define us. Opportunities to do right are right in front of us. We just have to seize them.”

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.): “The hateful display of bigotry in Charlottesville, Va., is disgusting. Our nation’s strength comes from our values of diversity and inclusion. Fear-mongers and bigots may try to sow fear in others by lighting torches and spewing hate, but they cannot intimidate those whose guiding light is our nation’s founding principles of liberty, equality and justice for all.”

Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento): “My thoughts and prayers are with Charlottesville. What happened there was a disgusting act of domestic terrorism perpetrated by white supremacists — calling it anything else is an insult to the victims and their families. We must do everything in our power to condemn white supremacy and the hatred on which it thrives.”

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii): “After Charlottesville, President Trump had the opportunity and obligation to speak to the nation about our collective condemnation of racism, white supremacy and anti-Semitism. Instead, he spoke in generalities and attributed the wrongs to ‘many sides.’ He squandered the opportunity, letting his staff issue a statement Sunday morning, attributed to no one, claiming he ‘condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred, and of course that includes white supremacists, KKK, neo-nazi, and all extremists groups.’ Letting anonymous White House staff attach new meaning to the president’s statements after the fact is weak and disingenuous.”

Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside): “Today we were forced to confront the evil and the hate that still persists in our society. I am profoundly disturbed by the disgraceful rally of white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and KKK members in Charlottesville. I am heartbroken by the deaths of a young woman and two Virginia police officers. And I am angry that our president refuses to directly condemn this hate, and fails to recognize that there is only one side in the fight against bigotry in America.

“But most of all I am determined. I am determined to unite with all those in our community and around the country who reject hate and pledge their allegiance to liberty and justice for all. Together, we will protect the values that make America great.”

Rep. Ami Bera (D-Sacramento): “I’m appalled by the hateful, violent actions in Charlottesville, Virginia. We’re a great nation because of our diversity, not in spite of it. I expect the President to condemn this abhorrent behavior as well — it has no place in America.”

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Santa Clara): “Hatred, xenophobia, and any type of violence associated with extreme prejudice cannot be tolerated. What’s happening in Charlottesville is alarming and we must stand united against hate.”

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.): “We will not allow white nationalists to instill fear in our communities. We will continue to peacefully organize and resist to confront white supremacists who hide behind freedom of speech to promote racism, bigotry and violence.”

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.): “In the wake of the failure of President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to forcefully respond to the rise in hate crimes we’ve witnessed across the country, I’m drafting legislation to establish a bipartisan commission to investigate the national surge in hate crimes and how it can best be combated.

“The events in Charlottesville and the hate-motivated crimes we’ve witnessed across the country demand a response, and this commission will report to Congress on the scale of the problem, the causes for the increase in hate crimes, and how we may best combat it.

“Americans need to know that their civil rights will be protected and that hate crimes will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

“After the events in Charlottesville, the American people are right to question whether our highest officials will fulfill those obligations. It is now more important than ever to affirm that we are a nation of laws and that those laws will be upheld and enforced.”

Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.): “Horrified by the hate and violence in Charlottesville. We must all condemn it. Racism, bigotry and intolerance have no place in our country.”

Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.): “There is no place for such hate and violence in our society. Our country needs unity now. The events at Charlottesville are shameful.”

Trump was roundly criticized even by members of his own party for his condemnation of hate and violence from “all sides,” thereby suggesting that anti-racism protesters were as much to blame as the white supremacists who rallied against the removal of a Confederate statue. On Monday, Trump gave a prepared statement in which he mentioned the KKK and neo-Nazis by name and called them “thugs.”

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