As duly elected officials in the city of Pawtucket and the state of Rhode Island, we condemn in the strongest possible terms the abhorrent display of hatred and white supremacy in Charlottesville over the weekend. The act of domestic terrorism that claimed a life should be severely punished.
We recognize that the divisions in America right now are profound and multi-faceted. However, there is absolutely no moral equivalency between racists and people who resisted them. Those who espouse Nazism, and its close relative the “alt-right,” explicitly used racist and anti-semitic imagery to bully and intimidate. This is unacceptable.
Two of the authors of this letter are immigrants and people of color; the third’s family is Jewish. The lessons of history clearly teach us that attacks on any marginalized groups are a threat to the liberty of everyone. Racial divisions are a tool used to oppress people on both sides of the divide. We are shocked and saddened by the events in Charlottesville, but we are also driven to speak out. It is all of our responsibility to speak out.
We further recognize that there is no simpler – or more important – thing that a president can do than take a clear stance against racists who use terrorist tactics to take American lives on American soil. In failing to do so, Trump has scorned and insulted our country’ core values.
The United States has a long and bitter legacy of racism, both tacit and explicit. We are proud to represent a city that is racially, ethnically, and religiously diverse, and in that diversity lies our strength. We are heartened by the tens of thousands that have come out in solidarity with the people of Charlottesville across the country. We must find the courage in ourselves to be the change that we need.
We will not dishonor our ancestors and all those who have come before to stand up for liberty, justice, and love.
Jean Philippe Barros is a state representative from Pawtucket. Meghan Kallman and Sandra Cano are city councilors in Pawtucket.