Our hearts go out to the families of those who lost their lives and were injured over the weekend in Charlottesville. We also want to deeply thank all who went to the streets to counter protest this particular expression of white supremacy. The protests turned predictably tragic because Trump is embracing and advocating for — in word, policy, and deed — subjugation of many of our cherished communities, be they people of color, Muslims, the disabled, women, the undocumented, or LGBTQ communities.
We lay this weekend’s violence squarely at the feet of Donald Trump. His rhetoric and staffing choices — as well as speeches and policy priorities — conjure White Ethno-Nationalist values on an almost-daily basis. In the last month alone, the DOJ has declared that it will make discrimination against white people a priority and the DHS has formalized a preference for English speaking immigrants. This is to say nothing about the Muslim ban or the wall at the southern border. Taken together, they seek to re-establish a sense of white cultural dominance in which the opportunities of people of color to succeed come second to others, if at all. The white supremacists have absorbed the message of government endorsement: they abandoned the anonymity and darkness historically connected to their public displays of hate and lawlessness, emboldened to march in broad daylight without hoods covering their faces.
For the last 51 years, the Center for Constitutional Rights has been on the frontlines of justice in supporting the movements and communities under attack. We have always been a thorn in the side of white supremacists because the communities we work closely with are in the most danger when their speech turns to action, policy, and culture. We aim to turn the Klan and other white supremacists into the counter protesters rather than the other way around. In 2015, CCR spoke to the way that white supremacist crimes should be handled. In 2014, I condemned the Klan’s threat to use “lethal force” in Ferguson. In 1980, the Klan Grand Wizard called CCR “liars” as we explained to Congress the horrors that the Klan had wrought on Black communities. A year later we filed Crumsey v. Justice Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, one of the first-ever civil lawsuits against a hate group, decided in favor of the families of five women injured by the Klan in Chattanooga. The arc of this work connects to the people who historically have been attacked. Our work is based on principle and the value of the struggle itself, not based on any calculations about likelihood of success.
Many of us are mobilized and ready to act in this critical time and when the stakes are so high. Given the choices in who we decide to partner with in our work, CCR stands with those who are the most vulnerable and at the forefront of the resistance; those for whom the fight is not ideological, but a matter of life and death; and those who have the solution to the problems, if the world would only listen to them.
Edited to reflect extent of injuries during Chattanooga shooting spree.