A group of white supremacists shouted racist, xenophobic, and homophobic epithets while rallying Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia. One person was killed and 19 others injured when a car slammed into a counterdemonstration.
Hundreds of angry protesters from various white nationalist organizations and other right-wing groups convened in the city, which is home to the University of Virginia, for a rally dubbed “Unite the Right.” The gathering was organized in protest of Charlottesville’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency as local law enforcement struggled to contain fighting in the streets between Black Lives Matter movement counterprotesters and far-right rally attendees armed with weapons and chemical irritants. McAuliffe had a strong message for the supremacists: “Go home,” he said. “Shame on you. You pretend that you are patriots, but you are anything but patriots.”
A 32-year-old woman was killed and 19 others were hurt when a driver plowed a sports car into a crowd of counterprotesters; he was arrested and is being held on suspicion of second-degree murder and other offenses. Two troopers were also killed when a Virginia State Police helicopter crashed while monitoring the chaos.
Among the hate speech spewed at the rally, viral videos show a large group of attendees using anti-gay slurs, chanting, “Fuck you, faggots!” at the counterdemonstration.
— Christopher Mathias (@letsgomathias) August 12, 2017
GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis has spoken out against the rallying supremacists, calling their behavior in Charlottesville “disgusting” and “cowardly.”
“GLAAD and countless LGBTQ Americans stand firmly together with other marginalized communities to denounce these disgusting threats and cowardly fear tactics,” Ellis told Variety. “To the young Americans in Charlottesville who are LGBTQ or people of color: You are loved and you are perfect the way you are.”
Ellis blamed the incident in Charlottesville on President Trump’s political agenda. “This is the dangerous culture that having a Bully in Chief in the White House has created,” she said. “President Trump needs to take a break from the golf course and denounce these hate rallies immediately with clear and strong language.”
Trump did eventually issue a statement about Charlottesville but failed to condemn white supremacists by name. “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides, on many sides,” he said in a brief speech. “It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time.”
“Hate and bigotry must never be met with silence or half-hearted rebukes,” HRC president Chad Griffin said in a statement. “The horrific events unfolding in Charlottesville today are a stark reminder that the racism and white supremacy that has been allowed to fester for generations has recently been emboldened by the policies and rhetoric of politicians like Donald Trump. There are no two sides.”
“Donald Trump’s refusal to clearly condemn white supremacists, white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and the ‘alt-right’ is a failure of leadership and once again prove him to be unfit to serve,” Griffin continued. “All national leaders, from the President and Vice President on down, must explicitly and unequivocally condemn this violent extremism.”
“As a Black queer Virginian I am a swell of emotions,” said Candace Bond-Theriault of the National LGBTQ Task Force in a statement. “But even in the face of this extreme demonstration of hatred, I believe in the wise words of Martin Luther King Jr, that ‘Hate can’t drive out hate. Only love can do that.’ In this moment we must keep each other close, hold on to each other and spread love. Today I choose the emotion of love, for myself and my fellow black queer Virginians because love is a radical act of rebellion.”