MAYOR IN DISBELIEF FOLLOWING PRESIDENT’S COMMENTS ABOUT CHARLOTTESVILLE TRAGEDY

Gary stands with Charlottesville: Unity March and Vigil on Monday, August 28 at City Hall

By: Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson

On Tuesday, August 15, 2017, I was overwhelmed with emotions of disbelief, sadness and fear, as I listened to an intemperate President Donald Trump retreat from his reluctant condemnation of white supremacy.  In opining about the tragedy in Charlottesville, VA, a man who holds an office that has often been referred to as “the leader of the free world” equated the vitriolic hatred spewed by the white supremacists and Neo-Nazis in Virginia to peaceful counter protestors who sought to convey a message that intolerance has no place in this country.  He seemed oblivious to the fact that Heather Heyer had lost her life at the hands of someone who had traveled halfway across the country to salute Hitler, castigate Jews and engage in aggressive behavior.

There was a bit of irony associated with the fact that I missed the President’s comments because I was consumed with the work of my narrowly focused day.  I am not saying that I was wrong to be attentive to the needs of a challenged community.  I am simply saying that there is an inherent danger in being so consumed with our own issues that we miss the implication of national issues on our everyday lives and work.   

I found the President’s support of the actions of white supremacists and Neo-Nazis hard to believe because it is so inconsistent with the journey that we have travelled as a country over the course of the last few centuries.  Does he really believe “there is blame on both sides?” Does he really believe this is a figment of the “fake media’s” imagination when people marched and chanted “Jews will not replace us?” Is he truly that beholden to those who purvey hatred? I was saddened because I was forced to face the reality that while we have seemingly travelled far, we have so many more miles to go.

But I am also fearful because I understand the ability of hate to spread like a cancer through communities, states and this country.  I believe this is especially dangerous considering the divisive national climate already created by a political campaign that seemed to seize on peoples’ aversion and negativity towards others.  Our moral compass has already been endangered.  How do we continue to survive continued threats?

After reflecting through the course of a restless night, I have concluded that each of us has a responsibility to step out of the comfort zone of our daily routines.  Because the President has abdicated his responsibility of moral leadership on this issue, we must remain vigilant in our own neighborhoods and cities to ensure that bigotry and hatred receive no air time, both figuratively and literally.  Our job is not only to condemn those sentiments that fly in the face of our democracy, it is to promote tolerance and love of all people and freedom and justice for all.  We owe that tribute to the struggles of our ancestors, Heather Heyer and others who have lost their lives.  More importantly we owe that example to our children.  

To this end, the city of Gary and the Gary Human Relations Commission is inviting all of Northwest Indiana to join us for a Unity March and Vigil on Monday, August 28, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. We will begin at 9th and Broadway and continue to the steps of City Hall.  We will stand with the community of Charlottesville, but we will also send a message of unity to all of Northwest Indiana and for all to see.  

Five-Point Plan to Stand Against Hate

(Washington, DC) In response to the events in Charlottesville, Mayor Toni Harp, President of the African American Mayors Association (AAMA), announced the organization’s five-point response plan. The full text of the plan is below.

“As more information about the events in Charlottesville becomes available, it is clear that the response from President Trump has been inadequate and disappointing,” said Mayor Harp. “If we cannot count on this Administration to unequivocally disavow such vile hate groups, state and local governments must lead the way.

“I urge all mayors and governors to adopt AAMA’s five point response plan which calls for: the immediate removal of confederate and nazi symbols; the removal from federal office Sebastian Gorka and Stephen Miller whose ideological extremism emboldens white supremacists; the provision of additional resources for law enforcement to identify hate groups; all corporations to stop the dissemination of tools of hate on their platforms; and for all public officials to disavow hate and racial violence as a prerequisite for running for office.”

Five-Point Plan to Stand Against Hate

1. Confederate and Nazi Symbols: We urge all cities and state legislatures to remove symbols of the Confederacy, Nazism, and other white supremacist groups from public spaces, which serve the joint purpose of intimidating citizens and emboldening such hate groups. We commend the cities of New Orleans, Baltimore, Lexington and others that have taken swift action;

2. Federal Action: We call on President Trump to (i) remove Sebastian Gorka and Stephen Miller for their ideological extremism that emboldens white supremacist and other hate groups; (ii) fully restore Countering Violent Extremism funds to combat white supremacists and neo-Nazis; and (iii) launch a coordinated federal effort in conjunction with local law enforcement officials to eliminate the growing threat from white supremacists;

3. Resources for Law Enforcement: We call on the federal government and local elected officials to direct additional law enforcement resources to (i) the identification and elimination of white supremacist, neo-Nazis and and other hate groups and related incidences of violence; and (ii) additional training of police officers for crowd and protest management;

4. Corporate Accountability: We call for a boycott of companies and vendors that advertise on radical websites and we urge all elected officials to work with influential companies to address ways to limit the influence of hate groups on their platforms. We commend companies such as Airbnb that have taken affirmative actions against white supremacist causes on their platforms; and

5. Get out the vote in 2018: We encourage all eligible persons to get registered to vote and demand any person running for elected office promote the causes of equality and justice and disavow hate and racial violence as a prerequisite for running for office.

    

Statement by Mayor Harp of African American Mayors Association on the White Supremacist Attacks in Charlottesville

 

(Washington, DC) Mayor Toni Harp, President of the African American Mayors Association (AAMA), issued the following statement today on the racial violence in Charlottesville, Virginia:

 

“As President of the African American Mayors Association and the Mayor of New Haven, CT, I condemn bigotry and hatred in all forms. We will learn more about the details of what occurred in Charlottesville, but it is clear—what we have seen this weekend is a reminder of a dark chapter in American history. The car that plowed through a group of peaceful civilians appears to be an act of domestic terrorism. If that proves to be the case, we call on city, state, and federal officials to pursue that offender with the full force of the law. We also express our condolences for the lives lost from the crash of a state police helicopter monitoring the situation.”

 

“Those of us who work in politics debate over policies, tactics, and priorities everyday. That is not what the mob in Virginia was engaged in this weekend. This white nationalist movement by— the ‘Alt-right,’ Neo-Nazi, and white supremacists—challenges the very foundation of our civilization. Will we value every citizen? Will all Americans have a chance to participate in the benefits of our country? How we choose to answer these questions will determine the future of American life.  The African American Mayors Association stands with those on the side of freedom, justice, and equality and against those rallying for hate.”

 

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