Aug 25 2017
Like many of you, I was deeply saddened by the events that occurred in Charlottesville, Va., and now, almost two weeks later, the images of torch-bearing marchers and violent clashes are still in my mind, just as they are seared into the public conscience.
It was a spectacle I, and many of you, no doubt, had never imagined happening on that Saturday morning, but by Saturday evening, it was a reality none of us could escape.
It’s hard to see what happened and not feel ill over the eruption of violence, bigotry, hatred and the growing number of instances of racially motivated violence in America we’ve seen over the past several years.
The views espoused by the protestors are nauseating and reprehensible. Racism and bigotry have no place in our society and white supremacist ideals run antithetical to our values as Americans.
To be clear, there is no moral equivalency between Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and any other group or organization out there in America. While a number of protests over the years have turned violent, this march, organized largely by white supremacists, stands apart, and its organizers must shoulder the blame for the violence that erupted and was fostered by their reprehensible rhetoric.
I stand with millions of other Americans and residents of the 16th District in strongly condemning Alex Fields, the driver of the car who killed Heather Heyer and injured other counter-protestors, and in denouncing his views. I know I speak for many of us when I say he does not represent America, and he certainly does not represent Ohio.
I am comforted by the resounding denunciation of the views espoused by the march’s organizers from my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, including President Trump and his Justice Department.
As my staff shared with hundreds of people who called my offices, fearful over what happened and seeking some small words of comfort, this cannot be tolerated, and I stand with my colleagues and with you in that shared belief. You won’t tolerate it. I won’t tolerate it. And our country won’t tolerate it.
This march was to be a show of their strength. In turn, let’s show them ours.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions also made it known the Department of Justice did view Fields’ actions as an act of domestic terrorism. It must be made clear to any who would engage in such violence that if they do, justice will be swift and unforgiving, and we will prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.
My heart remains with all of those impacted by Charlottesville, and I pray that in its wake, we can unite as a country against racism and hate. What happened does not represent who we are as a country, so let us respond in turn by showing what America truly means.