posted on: Thursday August 31, 2017
by Gabriella Pisano ’18
Assistant News Editor
Many countries including England, Germany, Italy, Israel, and Iran have responded to the violence in Charlottesville by condemning the racism and hatred far-right groups stand for. Prime Minister of England Theresa May stated, “I see no equivalence between those who propound fascist views and those who oppose them. I think it is important for all those in positions of responsibility to condemn far-right views wherever we hear them.”
Echoing May’s sentiment, Prime Minister of Italy Paolo Gentiloni tweeted, “The condemnation of violence in Virginia unites the entire world. Racist hatred will not prevail.”
The United Nations responded to the reaction of the Aug. 12 rally. U.N. experts denounced “the failure at the highest political level of the United States of America to unequivocally reject and condemn” racist violence, stating it was “deeply concerned by the example this failure could set for the rest of the world.”
Tensions ran high in the United States as violence broke out at far-right march. Charlottesville, Virginia is, according to CNN, “a progressive city of about 47,000 people.” The city, once home to Thomas Jefferson, received backlash from city official’s plans to remove a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee, prompted far-right activists and Ku Klux Klan members to organize a march on Saturday, August 12. The Unite the Right rally, more commonly known as the Charlottesville Rally, resulted in the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer when a car drove into a group of counter-protestors. Nineteen others were injured in the crash. James Alex Field, the driver of the vehicle, was charged with second-degree murder. An investigation into the incident is ongoing.
The incident on Aug. 12 was not the first alt-right gathering to occur in Charlottesville in recent months. On May 13, there was a torchlit rally at Emancipation Park, and on July 8, a rally of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan took place at Justice Park. The City of Charlottesville has hired Timothy Heaphy, former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia and current partner with the international law firm of Hunton & Williams LLP, to lead an independent, external review of the city’s response to the three events that occurred. Michael Signer, mayor of Charlottesville, released a statement referring to the rally as “a cowardly parade of hatred, bigotry, racism, and intolerance.”
President Trump stated, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides.” In a press conference following the incident, Trump said, “What took place was a horrible moment for the country, but there are two sides to a story. I think there is blame on both sides,” and that there were “very fine people” on both sides of the protest.
In response to the violence that took place at the “Unite the Right” Rally, an anti-hate vigil took place at the Rhode Island State House on Sunday, August 13. The Tuesday following the incident, Rhode Island’s congressional delegation criticized Trump’s response. Claiming that the violence in Charlottesville is not a partisan issue, but instead one of basic human rights, US Representative Jim Langevin said, “Our country’s leaders must condemn racism and violence in the strongest possible terms, and the President is abdicating his moral responsibility by doing otherwise.”
In recognition of the events that occurred in Charlottesville, a Mass for national reconciliation and healing took place on Monday, August 21 in St. Dominic Chapel. An email from Father Brian Shanley, O.P., to the Providence College community stated, “There will be a time on our campus for discussion and reflection on what has happened as we begin a new semester, but our first communal action should be a turning to God for healing, reconciliation, and wisdom.” Additionally, the Board of Multicultural Student Affairs organized a solidarity walk to take place on Thursday, August 31. Calling the PC community to reflect on the events that took place in Charlottesville, Barcelona, and the protest in Boston, the Executive Board of BMSA stated, “Working together to foster a community where we mutually respect each other’s views of the world is significant to us flourishing as a College and society. As students who are part of the Friar community, we will not tolerate hate.”