A car plowed into a crowd of people peacefully protesting a white nationalist rally Aug. 12 in Charlottesville, killing one person, hurting more than a dozen others and ratcheting up tension in a day full of violent confrontations.
Shortly after, a Virginia State Police helicopter that officials said was assisting with the rally crashed outside Charlottesville, killing the pilot and a trooper.
The chaos boiled over at what is believed to be the largest group of white nationalists to come together in a decade. The governor declared a state of emergency and police dressed in riot gear ordered people out.
The following statements were collected through the weekend and continuing Aug. 14.
Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
“The white supremacist rallies this weekend and the ongoing violence in Charlottesville are un-American and unacceptable. They run counter to the values of justice, fairness and inclusivity that we uphold as a country. While the right to free speech is a core value, hate has no place in America.
"Donald Trump, as a candidate and as president, has emboldened and enabled the forces of hate and division in this country. He and his administration must denounce what happened this weekend — and the white supremacist hate behind it — in the strongest possible terms. And the FBI should open an investigation into today's violence."
Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
“The administration’s silence in the wake of white supremacist violence in Portland, Maryland and Minnesota, and lackluster response to the open support of notorious white supremacists has constituted an abdication of the kind of leadership we should expect from our president. Indeed, the president’s refusal to speak forcefully and unequivocally against white supremacy has laid the foundation for today’s march and violent confrontation.”
Derrick Johnson, interim president and CEO of the NAACP
“The blatant racism on display in Charlottesville is absolutely disgusting. It’s hard to believe that in 2017 we are still plagued by so much race-based hatred. The NAACP will always stand against hate and any persons who threaten the moral right of our community.
“These kinds of actions should come as no surprise, however. We are living under an administration that campaigned on hatred, discrimination and xenophobia. They have given permission and a platform for bigots, like the right-wing, white nationalists in Charlottesville, to thrive and spread violence.”
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign
"Hate and bigotry must never be met with silence or half-hearted rebukes. 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 proves he is unfit to serve. All national leaders, from the president and vice president on down, must explicitly and unequivocally condemn this violent extremism.”
Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO
“This is a moment that demands moral leadership. President Trump should acknowledge that this is not a matter of equivalence between two sides with similar gripes. There is no rationalizing white supremacy and no room for this vile bigotry. It is un-American and it needs to be condemned without hesitation.
"We call on the White House to terminate all staff with any ties to these extremists. There is no rationale for employing people who excuse hateful rhetoric and ugly incitement. They do not serve the values embodied in our Constitution nor the interests of the American people.”
Brandi Collins, campaign director, Color of Change
“At Color Of Change our hearts, minds and prayers are with the people of Charlottesville and the state of Virginia. What happened in Charlottesville is an act of terrorism pure and simple. This is one all too familiar to our country’s history. We’re standing with the peaceful protesters in Charlottesville, with our 1 million members across the country and with everyone tonightheartbroken like us. Let’s work together to ensure that tomorrow we don’t continue to replicate the horrors of the past thank you.”
Jonathan Lipman, chief strategy officer, Bend the Arc Jewish Action
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic events of the protests in Charlottesville today, and our sympathies go out to the families of those injured and killed. The events of the last two days are the inevitable result of the bigotry and hatred that Donald Trump has been championing since he began his campaign. The unmistakable pattern of the president’s support for and endorsement of white nationalism, combined with his outrageous failure to explicitly and forcefully condemn the white supremacists and neo-Nazis responsible for today’s violence, make his calls for unity disingenuous. American Jews recognize these dangerous and escalating patterns. We’ve seen this before. This hatred must stop.”
Ben Needham, director of Project One America at Human Rights Campaign
“We condemn — in the strongest of terms — the racism, hatred and bigotry that is on display from white supremacist groups in Charlottesville. It is clear that all of our fights — against racism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia and Islamophobia — are inextricably linked. We stand in solidarity with those whom these racists are targeting in Charlottesville and around the country. 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.”
Scott Simpson, public advocacy director, Muslim Advocates
“President Trump’s press conference and tweets today are not enough. He must take responsibility for his role in propagating white nationalist ideology and fueling their movement. We call on him to immediately denounce the white supremacy movement by name and remove those who condone white supremacy, like Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka, from the White House. Their mere presence, and their prime roles in fanning these flames of bigotry, is a silent endorsement of this violence. There is only one side of hate, vulgarity, and violence."
Cecile Richards, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America
“Now, more than ever, it is unacceptable to remain silent as marginalized and oppressed communities still face violence and hatred simply for standing up for the freedom, liberty and justice they deserve. We must not only condemn these actions, but also work relentlessly and collectively to put an end to white supremacy. In order for our country to live up to its promise and democratic values, bigotry of all kinds must be rejected.
“Planned Parenthood stands with people of color and allies in the face of such appalling attacks fueled by hate.”
Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, CEO and executive director, MomsRising
“This weekend, we watch in horror as white supremacists and Nazis march through the streets of Charlottesville inciting violence that has caused the death of at least one peaceful anti-racism demonstrator. There’s no question that the election of Donald Trump has emboldened white supremacists, neo-Nazis, racism, and hate — and now, it is up to us to follow in the footsteps of brave anti-racist Americans throughout history, to stand in solidarity with those in Charlottesville opposing hate, and to defend and reinforce what truly makes our country great.”
Michael Brune, executive director, Sierra Club
“The Sierra Club condemns this act of white supremacist terrorism in the strongest possible terms. Our thoughts are with those injured and killed and our hearts are with those who are peacefully speaking out to stop hate from gaining another inch in our country and those who are living in fear because of that hate. No one who took to the streets of Charlottesville fueled by bigotry and brandishing the symbols of fascism that so many Americans fought and died to tear down has any claim on the mantle of patriotism. Instead, it is more important than ever that they be called out for exactly what they are: vile and unacceptable racists preaching division and hatred that stands in opposition to the values of equality and justice that must drive our nation forward.”
Neera Tanden, president and CEO, the Center for American Progress
“Once again, the president has refused to explicitly disavow the extremism, Nazi imagery, and vehicular attack that occurred in Charlottesville. Throughout the campaign and in his brief presidency, Donald Trump has had many opportunities to not just fully distance his administration from those allied with Nazi sympathizers and the KKK but also to denounce them. However, today, he used his bully pulpit to decry the hate and violence ‘on many sides.’
"To be clear, there is only one side that wishes to provoke hate and violence, and there is only one side that committed an apparent act of terrorism today. Nazis and white nationalists showed up to cause harm and unrest in Charlottesville. Their racism, hatred, and bigotry have no place in our society.”
Michael Keegan, president, People for the American Way
“Today’s events are horrifying, heartbreaking and infuriating. When Donald Trump was elected president, many of us feared that his election would embolden radical extremists and white supremacists. Today shows that those concerns were entirely justified. Moreover, the president’s refusal to clearly and emphatically denounce a group of Nazis and white supremacists underscores his longstanding willingness to exploit the Right’s most hateful impulses for political gain—as well as the GOP’s willingness to abide Trump’s tactics of hate in order to push its own ideological agenda.
“Elected officials should make clear in no uncertain terms that they condemn the hate and racism of the ‘Unite the Right’ rally and its leaders, and they won’t associate with those who do otherwise.”
Casey Harden, YWCA USA interim CEO
"We are outraged, yet not surprised, by last night's white supremacist march in Charlottesville. Every American, especially white Americans, must keep our country's ongoing legacy of racism at the front of our minds. Images of torch-bearing white supremacists may feel to some like a relic from the past being brought to life by a few extremists. However, we must trust Black women and other people of color when they say that these displays are indicative of daily racial injustices and threats that communities of color continue to face in the United States. What happened last night and today in continuing violent protests is an unacceptable display of hate and white supremacy that has no place in our communities. YWCA USA will not tolerate or normalize racism in any of its insidious forms."
Reshma Shamasunder, deputy director, National Immigration Law Center
“President Trump’s failure to unequivocally condemn white supremacists and the role they played in contributing to this violence is shameful and dangerous. Through discriminatory policy, messaging and, at times, deafening silence, President Trump is sending a clear message to communities of color that our freedom, our rights, and our place in this country are less important than those of others.”
Trita Parsi, president, National Iranian American Council
“Those who are marching in Charlottesville under the banner of Nazi Swastikas, burning torches, and the Ku Klux Klan’s grotesque rendition of the cross know full well the meaning of these symbols. They represent a history of mass graves, lynchings, and destruction. This demonstration by these White Supremacists is not one of cultural pride nor is it a genuine expression of First Amendment rights. It is a gathering of armed men who are terrorizing, looting, and destroying an entire community.
"Trump’s condemnation of violence “from all sides” only emboldens the true culprits by drawing a false equivalency between armed neo-Nazi thugs who have used such tactics as ramming vehicles into defenseless crowds with those who demonstrated peacefully against their hate. This Nazi violence has resulted in at least one death, numerous injuries, and the issuance of a state of emergency by the Governor of Virginia.”
Nihad Awad, national executive Director, CAIR
"Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe today rightly called out the 'white supremacists and the Nazis' -- saying 'go home, you are not wanted. . .shame on you, you pretend that you are patriots, but you are anything but a patriot' — something President Trump failed to do in his weak reaction to the terror attack.
"President Trump's reluctance to both denounce the act of terrorism and to call out the white supremacist and racists groups by name constitutes a failure of moral leadership and sends the wrong message to newly-empowered racist groups nationwide."
Brent Wilkes, national CEO, LULAC
“Today's terror attack that left one person dead and many others with serious injuries is a sad day for our country demonstrating that the wounds of our nation's racial history are far from healed. Our heart goes out to the family whose loved one was killed as well as the families of those who were injured. This country has a dark and long history regarding white nationalist groups, and it is time for us to unite against such hateful and destructive organizations.
"Unfortunately, today we were again reminded that we have a president lacking in moral leadership. The president's statement today suggested a moral equivalence between the neo Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, and other white nationalists with the counter protesters which included clergy, college students and concerned citizens who had gathered peacefully to protest against hate. Nothing could be further from the truth, and we know that the president's statement was a calculated political move designed to appease his alt right supporters.”
Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF
“MALDEF joins in condemning the white nationalist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the violence that the protests engendered. Our condolences go out to the family of the murder victim and our solidarity and moral support to the injured.
"MALDEF also calls upon Donald Trump to cease his rhetorical gamesmanship and to recognize and acknowledge publicly that there is no equivalency, moral or otherwise, between those who spout white nationalist ideology and those who protest it. The repetition of 'on many sides' in a self-evident attempt to introduce some indeterminacy into what happened in Charlottesville is simply irresponsible pandering unbefitting the White House. MALDEF calls upon the White House to reject ideologies of white supremacy, white nationalism, and alt-right rhetoric; to remove the prominent adherents of such ideologies from positions of authority in the administration, and to forthrightly explain the fallacy that lies in the paranoia of those who see persecution of whites in a society where white males remain dramatically overrepresented in positions of leadership in virtually all sectors.”
Rob Berchinski, Human Rights First
"Under the U.S. Constitution, all members of our society have the right to freedom of speech, but what the world witnessed this weekend should be called by its true name: evil," said Human Rights First's Rob Berschinski.
"The response of the president of the United States to this weekend’s events has been woefully inadequate. Donald Trump’s disinterest in condemning neo-Nazi and white supremacist ideology dishonors his office and the people of the United States. He should immediately, and unequivocally, condemn bigotry and hate not in the abstract, but in the way it is manifesting in America’s streets.”
American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, AFT secretary-treasurer Lorretta Johnson and AFT executive vice president Mary Cathryn Ricker
“What happened in Charlottesville exposed a dark turning point in America. It is not just a sobering reminder of the very real racism and anti-Semitism running through the veins of Americans, but a call to stand up to the forces of hate and division in this country that feel emboldened today. White supremacists and Nazis now feel empowered to come out of the shadows and inflict terror on American communities. We stand with those who stood up to this racism and anti-Semitism yesterday. We grieve the murder of Heather Heyer and the injury of other peaceful protestors. And we continue to denounce the hate and bigotry that was on display in Charlottesville and is being unmasked in communities across the country. But this moment requires more than simply denouncing hatred; it requires action to protect the basic rights and safety of American families from those who peddle terror and hate.”
Debra L. Ness, president, National Partnership for Women & Families
“The horrendous, heartbreaking display of hatred and bigotry in Charlottesville yesterday was an affront to our country and to the values most of us hold dear. We stand in solidarity with the counter-protesters who took a stand against white supremacists, neo-Nazis and racists – terrorists who once again resorted to appalling violence. We mourn the woman they murdered, wish all the counter-protesters who are still fighting for their lives a full and speedy recovery, and extend our deepest sympathies to the families of the police officers who died in the tragic helicopter crash.
"We all have the right to free speech, but white supremacy, racism, anti-Semitism, hatred and bigotry have no place in our public discourse or our country. Our diversity is one of our country’s greatest strengthens and we must stand up to bigots and extremists, whether they target people of color, the Jewish community, LGBTQ individuals, Muslims, immigrants or any other group.”
Nancy K. Kaufman, CEO, National Council of Jewish Women
“Today we mourn a victim of hate yet again. By all accounts, Heather Heyer was in Charlottesville among those protesting the so-called ‘Unite the Right’ rally because she felt a call to stand on the side of justice and equality. She was brutally and fatally wounded by a car that deliberately smashed into the crowd where she stood. The rally she protested drew Neo-Nazis, KKK members, anti-Semites, white nationalists and other purveyors of hate to Charlottesville to oppose the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from a prominent public park, but also to announce the strength of its supremacist following.
“That we have always had bigots and haters among us, we know all too well. That they feel emboldened by the tough guy rhetoric of the president of the United States is new in modern times. President Trump’s condemnation of ‘hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, many sides’ was an obtuse failure to stand forthrightly against white supremacy and anti-Semitism. Stronger statements issued later from the White House and Ivanka Trump, among others, but none attributed to Trump himself, do little to fill the vacuum of leadership apparent on Saturday.”
Mara Kiesling, executive director, The National Center for Transgender Equality
"The National Center for Transgender Equality condemns the racists, White Supremacists, White Nationalists, Klansmen, anti-Semites, and Nazis who acted as terrorists while rallying to "Unite the Right" in Charlottesville. Our hearts our broken for the victims of this hate. Our solidarity is with them as well as with the other counter protesters who stood strong in the face of hate. We call on the Trump/Pence administration to understand the shame and damage their near silence causes all Americans, and to respond strongly and without hesitation or quarter for the racists who perpetrated this violence and disgrace."
Mary Kay Henry, SEIU International president
“This tragedy is a reminder that as a nation, we have yet to address the long legacy of racism and slavery that is deeply embedded in our history and experienced in our present day. We cannot be silent and must speak out against the violence and intimidation we have seen in Charlottesville and far too many other cities. Working people must, and we will, join together and organize our communities to eliminate racism at all levels and create a world where everyone, no matter the color of their skin, can participate, prosper and reach our full potential."
Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO, National Women’s Law Center
“Americans across the country witnessed the vicious bigotry and violence of the white supremacist movement on full display in Charlottesville this weekend as they took to the streets with the goal of terrorizing the community and normalizing hate. We condemn their intolerance and violent tactics and extend our condolences to the family of the woman who was tragically killed. Like millions around this country, we are horrified by the rise of hatred and call for strong leadership at this moment from the president and the Department of Justice. Now is not the time to equivocate about hate, violence and domestic terrorism. We stand with the community of Charlottesville and all of our partners to uphold a vision of America that celebrates our diversity and denounces hatred, racism, and violence.”
Mark H. Morial, president and CEO, National Urban League
"Horrifying expressions of white supremacy and Nazi sympathies sadly are nothing novel in the United States, even in the 21st century. What is shocking is that these demonstrations - with apparent deliberate fatal assaults against counter-protesters - should take place without a clear condemnation from the highest levels of government. What we are witnessing is a failure of our national institutions. We in the Urban League Movement call upon everyone with a voice on our national stage to condemn these demonstrations and these racist sentiments in the strongest possible terms. This is not who we are as a society and as a nation."
Nan Aron, president, Alliance for Justice
"The horrific violence in Charlottesville leaves us all heartsick. Now is the time for the Justice Department to fulfill its role as guardian and enforcer of our civil rights, and work aggressively to investigate these attacks. We are heartened to hear DOJ's condemnation of bigotry and violence, which have no place in our society. Let's make no mistake: these attacks were carried out by white supremacists embracing a hateful ideology that is bubbling to the surface in our current political climate, and must be stopped before the fabric of our society is irreparably torn. In addition, we call on the administration to appoint, and the Senate to confirm, only judges who have a demonstrated commitment to civil and human rights."
Adrinna Quintero, director, Voces Verdes
“We at Voces believe there is no excuse or space for racism, sexism, bigotry or hate, and strongly condemn the actions by white supremacists in Charlottesville.
"Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who were killed and injured in this horrific act of violence.
"Our country and our people are better than this and stronger than hate, and we remain committed to fighting those whose actions and hateful rhetoric instills fear and division and provokes actions that put our future and peace at risk."
Sarita Gupta, executive director, Jobs with Justice
“Jobs With Justice condemns hatred, bigotry, and violence against our friends and neighbors. We grieve for the lives lost and pray for those critically injured as a result of the domestic terrorism committed in Charlottesville. We pour out our hearts to everyone in the Charlottesville community, and to those around the country who are traumatized by witnessing such barbaric, racist acts.
"When tearing down symbols of hate sparks such vitriolic backlash, the work to fully dismantle racism from our society is far from over. We recognize the progress achieved as communities finally remove the white supremacist monuments that stain our country. Our nation needs more healing, unifying, and transformation to live up to our values of respect, equality, diversity, and freedom.”
Monica Simpson, executive director, SisterSong
“The images that came out of Charlottesville are painful and terrifying. Young, white men carrying torches with their faces contorted in hatred. People responded saying, 'this is not my country', but let me be very clear. This is the country that we live in. This is something that communities of color know all too well.”
Judy Shepard, president, Matthew Shepard Foundation
“This weekend was incredibly heartbreaking. The shocking and violent display of white supremacy in Charlottesville is not representative of the Commonwealth or the country that I know and love. Marching with weapons and torches is not brave; it is a cowardly show of fear and not at all what Americans stand for. This is not our America.”
Emily Cain, executive director, Emily’s List
“In the face of racism, ignorance, and violence, we will not be silent. There is no place for white supremacy in America. Attacks on our nation's diversity go against all that we stand for as Americans.
"Now, as always, EMILY's List stands with the communities of color who are leading the fight against this bigotry. We will continue our tireless efforts to elect even more women of color to office and drown out this racism and hate. We will not cower; we will not be silent; we will never back down."
Michael Breen, president and CEO, Truman Project
“The enabling and emboldening of right wing extremism is an issue of national security. Marches by torchlight make Americans fear for the lives of themselves and their families. Hateful mobs threaten to tear our communities apart. And now, we see attacks on peaceful counter-protestors that are as vile and as cowardly as those of any other terrorist.
“Pluralism is not only a moral good but strategic asset to the United States, and it is incumbent on our leaders to make that argument. President Trump's response to the events in Charlottesville are a vague, pitiful half-effort at best, and a deliberate attempt to avoid condemning his supporters among the instigators at worst. He has had no problem denouncing protestors against his administration and agenda with vigor and specificity; he must do so for this actual threat to law and order now.”
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president, Union for Reform Judaism
“The vile presence and rhetoric of the neo-Nazis who marched this weekend in Charlottesville is a reminder of the ever-present need for people of good will to stand strong, to speak loudly against hate, and act both to delegitimize those who spread such messages and to mitigate the harm done to the commonweal of our nation and to those that are the targets of hate messages.
"Racist, anti-Semitic, and xenophobic views have no place in a society that cherishes freedom and liberty for all. The right to speak and to hold repugnant views is not a right to circumscribe the ability of others to live in peace and security. Torch-lit marches of hate evoke the KKK; the image of a heavily armed “militia” standing among the neo-Nazi protestors should send an alarm to every person of good conscience in our nation.”