Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Caribbean American congresswoman denounces hate, violence in Charlottesville

Published:Sunday | August 13, 2017 | 8:20 AM
Yvette Clarke

CHARLOTTESVILLE, CMC – Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke has strongly denounced the hate and violence that engulfed this city in Virginia on Saturday as white nationalists and counter-protesters clashed in what has been described as one of the bloodiest fights to date over the removal of Confederate monuments across the Southern United States.

“We condemn the hate & violence from racists in Charlottesville . We will not be silent,” Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, wrote in a series of tweets on Saturday.

“We will not be afraid,” added the representative for the predominantly Caribbean 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, New York. “We witnessed domestic terrorism today in Charlottesville. Terrible. We cannot succumb to the forces of hate.”

Speaking Saturday afternoon at the beginning of a veterans’ event at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, US President Donald J. Trump condemned the bloody protests  and blamed the “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.”

That prompted Clarke to retweet: “Terrible. That man represents the worst of America.

“Your false equivalency, dog whistles are sad,” she said, referring to Trump. “White supremacy is to blame….”

Clarke, in her tweet, also urged the public to join her, local “Indivisible” groups and others at a rally, at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn Sunday, calling for “peace & sanity at home & abroad.”

Another Brooklyn Congressional Representative, Hakeem Jeffries, a member of the US House of Representatives’ Democratic leadership and the Judiciary Committee will on Sunday in Manhattan address Trump’s “refusal to denounce white supremacy and the violence it unleashed in Virginia.”

White nationalists had long planned a demonstration over Charlottesville’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate Robert E. Lee, according to the New York Times.

But it said the rally quickly exploded into racial taunting, shoving and outright brawling, prompting the governor to declare a state of emergency and the National Guard to join the police in clearing the area.

Those skirmishes mostly resulted in cuts and bruises, the Times said.

But, it said, after the rally at a city park was dispersed, a car bearing Ohio license plates ploughed into a crowd near the city’s downtown mall, killing a 32-year-old woman.

About34 others were injured, at least 19 in the car crash, according to a spokeswoman for the University of Virginia Medical Center.

Col. Martin Kumer, the superintendent of the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail, confirmed Saturday evening that an Ohio man, James Alex Fields Jr., 20, of Maumee, had been arrested and charged with second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and failing to stop at the scene of a crash that resulted in a death.

But the authorities declined to say publicly that  Fields was the driver of the car that ploughed into the crowd, the Times reported.

It said the planned rally was promoted as “Unite the Right,” with both its organisers and critics saying they expected it to be one of the largest gatherings of white nationalists in recent times, attracting hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis and movement leaders like David Duke and Richard Spencer.

Many of these groups have felt emboldened since Trump’s election, the Times said.

Duke, a former imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, told reporters on Saturday that the protesters were “going to fulfil the promises of Donald Trump” to “take our country back.”