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Two Years After Charlottesville

Two years ago today, the nation awoke to the reality of a surging white nationalist movement and the murder of Heather Heyer.

Heather was among a group of peaceful protesters who were countering a white nationalist rally that drew hundreds of racists into the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia.

We all remember the scene of a car driven by a neo-Nazi crashing into Heather and other anti-racist protesters, killing her and injuring dozens of others. And we all remember President Trump’s tepid response and his equivocation when he spread the blame to “many sides” and insisted there were “very fine people” among the racists.

Since then, we’ve heard the president continue to pour fuel on the growing flames of hate. We’ve heard him continue to feed the grievances of white nationalists by using words that dehumanize and vilify people of color.

The ugly truth is that Trump has embraced far-right extremists like no other president in modern history, and he has mainstreamed fringe conspiracy theories that poison our democracy and animate a dangerous terrorist movement. He is normalizing hate as a political weapon.

On Aug. 3 in El Paso, we saw the deadly results of hate once again. This time, no one was shocked that the suspected shooter’s words, written in an online “manifesto,” mirrored the words used by Trump and others in the media, people like Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson on Fox News.

This white nationalist fantasy – that liberal “elites” are conspiring to “replace” white people in our country with immigrants and other people of color – is the poison that this movement, with the aid of its champion in the White House, is injecting into our democracy.

It must be stopped.

With you at our side, we’re fighting back. And together we’re making a difference.

Since Charlottesville, we’ve exposed racist websites that are incubating terrorists, and we’ve had great success in pressuring Silicon Valley companies to cut off services that help far-right extremists raise money and radicalize young people.

And, just this week, we won a $14 million federal court judgment against neo-Nazi leader Andrew Anglin, who used his white supremacist website to promote the deadly rally in Charlottesville and to terrorize our client, a Jewish woman in Montana.

We’re committed to regaining the soul of our nation. In the past three years, we’ve more than doubled the size of our staff that is devoted to bringing justice and equality to the communities we serve.

You have a vital role to play, too. 

Today, let us remember the courage of Heather Heyer and the many others who have taken a stand against hate throughout our country’s history.

Let us remember those who died in El Paso and in other cities terrorized by white nationalists.

And let our tears strengthen our resolve to rise up, together, to protect our nation’s most fundamental values.

Karen Baynes-Dunning

Interim President



More from the SPLC:

Explore our Hate Map—In 2018, we tracked 1,020 hate groups across the U.S.

Unite the Right

Ten Ways to Fight Hate

Bystanders Guide

Move Slow and Break Everything:

Year in Hate and Extremism Essay

Silicon Valley's Year in Hate