Blog | Civil Rights

Working People in the States Reject Hate and Terror

White House vigil
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In the wake of the terrorist attack in Charlottesville, Virginia, that led to the deaths of Heather Heyer and two Virginia state troopers, Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, and the injuring of more than 30 others, organizations representing working families in numerous states have spoken out rejecting the violence and the ideas that precipitated the violence.

Here are the statements of AFL-CIO state federations:

Virginia AFL-CIO President Doris Crouse-Mays:

Allow me to be clear–the working people of Virginia do not and will not stand for discrimination and hate in our communities.

Yesterday's disgraceful display of beliefs from the alt-right was simply that–a disgrace to the citizens of the Commonwealth and all that we stand for. Virginia’s working families have fought long and hard to overcome the discriminatory policies of our past and to create an environment of inclusion and fairness in workplaces across the Commonwealth. We will continue to devote every ounce of our abilities to ensure that the rights and safety of all Virginians are preserved.

Furthermore, our thoughts and prayers extend to each of the peaceful counter-protesters who were injured or killed in the resulting violence from yesterday’s rally. We also extend our deepest condolences to the Virginia State Police and the families of Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper Pilot Berke M.M. Bates. No working person expects this shift to be his last, but these brave men and thousands of other first responders put their lives on the line each and every day to keep our communities safe.

Colorado AFL-CIO:

The Colorado AFL-CIO stands with union members and working people across the country against hate and bigotry. We will continue to stand up with our black brothers and sisters and reject the fascist violence that occurred in Charlottesville.

White supremacy is a tool used by those who want to divide and conquer people who would otherwise work together to secure their freedom and their fair share, which is why the labor movement is committed to addressing racism and bigotry within our own ranks and in our larger society.

Georgia AFL-CIO:

Over the weekend in Charlottesville, Va., the nation and the world witnessed the hateful views and terrorist acts committed by white supremacists and neo-Nazis. This racism and bigotry has no place in America. In this country, we have always fought, in solidarity, for equality and justice and against these and other diabolical prejudices.

This is the time for leadership. Our leaders, both in D.C. and under the Gold Dome, must acknowledge this for what it is: domestic terrorism rooted in bigotry.

The hearts and prayers of Georgia’s labor movement are with all the victims, but especially the families of those who lost their lives: Heather Heyer and state Troopers Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates. We pray for everyone’s safety. The labor movement condemns this domestic terrorism and remains committed to eradicating the despicable causes of hatred and intolerance.

Green Mountain Labor Council:

The recent events in Charlottesville call upon us all to speak out boldly against white supremacy, neo-Nazism, and white nationalism in all forms. Racism, anti-Semitism, hatred, and fear should have no home in America.

We grieve for the lives lost and pray for those critically injured because of the domestic terrorism committed in Charlottesville. The Green Mountain Labor Council promises to organize in our workplaces and communities to fight racism, fascism and bigotry.

Trump’s failure to call out neo-Nazi’s and other bigots is not surprising. Some of the supremacists even chanted “Heil Trump.” Trump’s campaign of hate against non-whites, threats to punch opponents in the face, and his plan to deport immigrants and build walls embolden the forces which were unleashed on Charlottesville. Trump is simply unfit to be president....

The Iowa Federation of Labor shared the words of Progress Iowa:

This weekend we watched in horror as white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, Va., waving Nazi symbols, chanting hateful Nazi slogans, and committing violent acts of terrorism. Their hatred and their violence should be condemned, and has no place in our country. But those words aren’t enough.

It’s not enough when Governor Reynolds and Senators Grassley and Ernst make statements of condemnation (David Young and Rod Blum have done so as well). They should condemn President Trump for continually fanning the flames of hatred, from his lead role in the birther movement, to statements he made during the campaignrefusing to denounce former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, and even having advisers with ties to hate groups.

Reynolds, Grassley, Ernst, Young, Blum, and King should condemn the president they helped put in office for his role in emboldening white supremacists. It’s politically easy to condemn Nazis—it would show true political courage if they called out the president of their own party. And they should use their elected office to bring about real, meaningful change. Here are just a few of the many ways they could move forward, and policies we should all call on them to enact....

Read the rest of the statement.

The Kentucky State AFL-CIO shared the words of the Rev. John Ballenger:

As we gather to worship, a word about the past couple of days in Charlottesville.

I trust you’re all aware of the events there. The kind of hatred and evil incarnate there cannot go unchallenged by those who follow God in the way of Jesus. Neither can any false equivalence between white supremacists and counter-protesters.

They are not the same.

We can no more afford to be surprised at what festers despicably in our culture, nor can our world afford for us to be silent about it—at what was made manifest in Charlottesville, yes, but also at the loud rhetoric of fear-mongering and violence, religious and ethnic blaming and shaming, attitudes of exclusiveness and superiority, an ongoing barrage of unchecked lies, the perversions of theology, scripture and God, and also the systemic racism embedded in our own ways of life—the countless ways we’ve begun trying to name how many of us benefit from privilege and how many of us suffer the consequences all of which can so easily be manipulatively effective and beneficial for the few, unquestionably making room for the worst of who we can be to be more comfortably made public.

In the name of God, we reject it all. in the name of Jesus, we commit to his alternative way of love, grace, welcome, justice, and peace, and in the name of the Spirit, we pray hope for the journey before us.

Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Steven A. Tolman:

With you, I have watched with heartbreak the hateful and violent actions of white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville this week and the subsequent offensive and troubling reaction from President Trump. The Massachusetts AFL-CIO joins AFL-CIO President, Richard Trumka in condemning last Saturday’s act of domestic terrorism in Charlottesville. We mourn with the families and friends of Heather Heyer and state Troopers Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates. We call on President Trump to unequivocally reject white supremacy and racism.

As a labor movement, as a Commonwealth and as a nation we have a moral obligation to stand up for the right of all people to live without fear and to stand against racism, anti-Semitism and bigotry in all forms. Hatred thrives on silence.

Minnesota AFL-CIO President Bill McCarthy:

Minnesota’s working people echo AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka’s condemnation of Saturday’s act of domestic terrorism in Charlottesville. Our hearts go out to the families of Heather Heyer and state Troopers Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates in their time of loss. White supremacists like Nazis, the KKK, and other so-called “alt-right” groups have long used bigotry, violence, and fear to divide working people. Minnesota’s labor movement resolutely rejects these poisonous ideologies that have no place in our country. We call on President Trump to apologize for the comments he made on Tuesday and strongly reject the white supremacists who support him. Working people in Minnesota and across the country renew our commitment to justice and eradicating the despicable causes of hatred and intolerance.

Missouri AFL-CIO:

President Trump's actions have not met up with the promises he made to working people during the campaign. His embrace of white-nationalist, neo-Nazis and the alt-right is un-American and we will not be a part of the president's PR sham.

It is simple. Saturday's attack was an act of domestic terrorism. The labor movement has always led the fight for equality and ending racism. This time is no different. White supremacists and neo-Nazis are racist and we will not stand with a president that does not unequivocally condemn these racists.

The true values of our country and the labor movement are values of equality and solidarity. This racism and bigotry is evil and does not represent the true values of this country.

Nebraska State AFL-CIO President/Secretary-Treasurer Susan L. Martin:

The Nebraska State AFL-CIO is speaking out against the horrific events that happened in Charlottesville, Va., this past weekend. We cannot and will not condone the vicious, hateful actions of white supremacists, neo-Nazis groups and bigots. This type of racism is immoral and has no place in America or anywhere. We, as a labor movement, value equality and solidarity and have fought long and hard to overcome these prejudices. Now is a moment for all Americans who believe in freedom and justice, to stand up and speak out. I urge you to participate in a vigil or community event in support of the true values of our country. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this horrific event and my hope is that we continue to have the important conversations with each other against this intolerance.

New Jersey State AFL-CIO:

As the nation begins to heal from the vicious act of terror committed in Charlottesville, we will keep in our hearts the memory of those who were injured or lost their lives. Those who stood up against the hatred and bigotry of white supremacists and intolerance of any kind, demonstrate the true values of this nation. Those who carry the banner of hate, bear the responsibility of this tragedy, and must be unequivocally condemned. We have come too far as a nation to turn back.

North Carolina State AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer MaryBe McMillan:

The North Carolina State AFL-CIO condemns white supremacy. It is a tool used by those who want to divide and conquer people who would otherwise work together to secure their freedom and their fair share, which is why the labor movement is committed to addressing racism and bigotry within our own ranks and in our larger society. All of us including President Trump have a moral obligation to speak out against not only racist, fascist violence but also the racist, fascist ideology behind such violence—an ideology which thrives on silence and inaction, particularly that of white people like me. We cannot expect our black and brown brothers and sisters to both bear the burden of white supremacy and do the work of dismantling it because this is our fight too, and together we can triumph over hatred. Lest we forget, when Adolf Hitler was consolidating his power, Nazis specifically came after union members because they feared the inclusiveness and collective strength of a united labor movement. By building a broad, inclusive movement, we can overcome the forces trying to divide us, and that is what we intend to do.

North Dakota AFL-CIO President/Secretary-Treasurer Waylon Hedegaard:

Sadly, white supremacy and Nazi ideology are on the rise across the nation and here in North Dakota. Four years ago, we all watched as Nazis and white supremacists tried to take over the small town of Leith for their own enclave, and many of us went down to protest the Nazi rally.

We stood against the hate and aggression they represented. Regular everyday North Dakotans, friends and neighbors, young and old, stood shoulder to should against the Nazis. People of all backgrounds and colors flocked to Leith because they could not stand by while fascists terrorized other North Dakotans.

The North Dakota AFL-CIO and organized labor will always stand against such racist, hateful and vile beliefs. Nazism, fascism and white supremacy are abhorrent to everything labor stands for and they always have been....

We must stand up! We must fight back! We must call them out on their murderous beliefs. We must not let this hate-filled infection spread!...

The source of working people’s issues are not people of a different color, gender, religion or belief. This has never been true and remains a lie today. Working people’s problems come from an unfair economic system that increasingly takes money and power from them to benefit the wealthy and powerful.

The North Dakota AFL-CIO stands against hate. It has always stood against hate, and it always will.  We stand against blaming other poor people for our problems. We stand against white supremacy, and we stand against Nazis.

We will proclaim this message until it rings in every labor hall, every workplace and every neighborhood in our state. We will not accept the racism and hatred that the swastika represents. We will not tolerate the threats of violence and fear, and we will not be quiet....

Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain:

Saturday in Charlottesville, Va., the nation and the world witnessed the hateful views and violent actions of white supremacists and neo-Nazis. This racism and bigotry is the worst kind of evil in our world and does not represent the true values of America. The true values of our country, values like equality and solidarity, are what have always overcome the most abominable prejudices.

Any response must begin with our leaders, starting with President Trump, acknowledging this for what it is: domestic terrorism rooted in bigotry. My heart goes out to the victims especially the family of those who lost their lives including a young woman named Heather Heyer and state Troopers Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates.  I pray for everyone’s safety. Oregon’s labor movement condemns this domestic terrorism and remains committed to eradicating the despicable causes of hatred and intolerance.

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO:

The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO wholeheartedly supports the statement made by President Trumka.  We condemn violence perpetrated by bigotry, racism, and hatred anywhere.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, and the Charlottesville community. 

Texas AFL-CIO President John Patrick:

We condemn the armed white supremacists and neo-Nazis who set the stage for and carried out the acts of terrorism that took place in Charlottesville.

Nothing anyone can say can take away the horror of what we witnessed yesterday, but in times like this we look to our leaders to comfort us, bring us together and shape our moral response as a nation. Sadly, the president failed miserably in those tasks. He glossed over 'Sieg Heil' salutes, KKK symbols, Confederate flags and other evidence of hatred in suggesting that 'all sides' were somehow to blame.

Instead of sending in the Justice Department, President Trump left room for David Duke to praise him and gave comfort to extremists who can claim with plenty of justification that they have a valued place in his presidency. At his most crucial moment in this tragedy, with the eyes of the nation on him, this president failed miserably.

As we grieve for those who lost their lives, with all our hearts the labor movement redoubles our commitment to fighting racism, anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred at every turn. We will never be divided in turning toward the lights of justice for all and solidarity.

Washington State Labor Council President Jeff Johnson:

On behalf of the Washington State labor Council, AFL-CIO, we want to send our condolences to the families of Heather Heyer and the two police officers who died in Saturday’s terrorist attack by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va., as well as the nineteen individuals injured in the attack. We also want to honor the bravery of Ms. Heyer and all of those who stood up against the hatred, bigotry and violence of the white nationalists. There is no place in the United States of America for these racist and supremacist beliefs. Once again the president is wrong – there are not “many sides” to this violence and hatred. There is only the moral courage and values of those who stand up against racism and white supremacy and there is the hatred and violence of white supremacy. Only two sides, right and wrong. It is time for us all to choose sides. Labor chooses the side that condemns racism and white supremacy in all of its forms.

Wisconsin AFL-CIO:

"The Wisconsin labor movement stands strong against white supremacy, hate and racism," said Phil Neuenfeldt, president of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO. "As a movement, we remain steadfast in eradicating the despicable causes of hatred and intolerance in the world. The labor movement was built on the values of equality, justice, respect and solidarity. These are the values that have and will always overcome the most repulsive prejudices."

"Racism and bigotry is the worst kind of evil in our world," said Stephanie Bloomingdale, Secretary-Treasurer of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO. "Wisconsin’s working people soundly condemn Saturday’s domestic terrorism and remain committed to standing together to end hatred and intolerance. As we grieve for the families who have lost loved ones, the labor movement redoubles our commitment to fighting racism, anti-Semitism and all other forms of hatred and evil at every turn."

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