The white supremacists who launched a brutal protest against the city of Charlottesville, Virginia’s plan to remove a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee must be held to account for their violence and hate speech, says Toni Van Pelt, president of the National Organization for Women (NOW).
“Robert E. Lee was on the wrong side of history and so are the Charlottesville racists,” says Toni Van Pelt. “The majority of Virginia voters—like the majority of voters across the U.S., voted for the presidential candidate who defended inclusion over intolerance, healing over division and fairness over bigotry. NOW stands with our courageous sisters and brothers in Charlottesville, who are standing strong against hate and violence.”
NOW has always been committed to eradicating racism. In NOW’s original Statement of Purpose, the group’s founders wrote, “We realize that women’s problems are linked to many broader questions of social justice; their solution will require concerted action by many groups. Therefore, convinced that human rights for all are indivisible, we expect to give active support to the common cause of equal rights for all those who suffer discrimination and deprivation.”
Today’s violent march follows an evening “Unite the Right” rally at the University of Virginia where hate-filled rhetoric from Ku Klux Klan members and other alt-right activists was directed at African Americans, immigrants, and Jewish people.
Charlotte Gibson, president of Charlottesville NOW, said, “The white nationalists, neo-Nazis, armed militias and alt-right extremists who came to Charlottesville and tried to hijack democracy today will not succeed. Their rhetoric is never acceptable in a civilized society, and their embrace of violence must never be tolerated.”
“Donald Trump’s personal reliance on the language of confrontation, combat and intolerance has alarmed us all in recent days,” says Toni Van Pelt. “Trump may be sending signals and cues to those who would harm peaceful protesters, but the people of Charlottesville are standing up to Trump-inspired bullying and inspiring us all.”