WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) President and CEO Margaret Huang issued the following statement applauding today’s jury ruling that the “Unite the Right” organizers of the far-right rally in Charlottesville in 2017 are liable for damages.
“The white supremacist rally-turned-deadly riots in Charlottesville was both the culmination of a hate-filled movement that had been building in our country and the violent beginning of a new chapter of extremism in this nation’s history. The organizers sought to normalize white nationalist ideals, race-based conspiracies and flout the will of communities looking to remove symbols of hate from their public spaces. As a result of their dangerous actions on that day, scores of others who shared their antisemitic and anti-Black racist views descended on the city. Heather Heyer was murdered, dozens of others injured and a city terrorized.
“In the years since, sadly, we have watched anti-democratic messages and white supremacists increasingly pollute the mainstream—becoming more emboldened and vocal about their vision for the future of our nation.
“Today’s verdict is an incredibly important step in the fight against this extremism. By holding these individuals accountable for the horrific events of that day, the court makes it clear that there will be real consequences, especially for like-minded actors who attempt to commit similar racially motivated violence. We honor the brave plaintiffs and our colleagues at Integrity First for America (IFA), which brought the lawsuit against the “Unite the Right” defendants, for their courage.
“We also commend the city of Charlottesville, Va., for removing the confederate statues of Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson in July 2020 and encourage other cities to continue to follow suit. Our public buildings, landmarks and institutions should not conceal the truth about our shared history and should not be used as a backdrop to glorify traitors to the United States.
“While great strides have been made as a result of IFA’s work and that of many others in the efforts to counter white supremacy, much work lies ahead to ensure the deadly hatred experienced in Charlottesville never happens again. Now more than ever, this ruling demonstrates the importance of rejecting hate, extremism, racism and white supremacy. And as symbols of hate continue to be removed from public view, we must remain steadfast about holding antidemocratic elected officials accountable for their actions and acknowledge our country’s history of slavery and oppression. Only then will we begin to truly heal the nation’s deep wounds.”