The below statement is by SPLC Spokesperson Lecia Brooks following President Trump’s defense of his 2017 statements about the white nationalist protest in Charlottesville, Va.:
“In 2017, the nation witnessed Ku Klux Klan members and white nationalists take to the streets of Charlottesville in protest. The night before, they chanted neo-Nazi slogans like, ‘Jews will not replace us,’ in an effort to support a monument dedicated to someone who fought to uphold a white supremacist system and lost. The protest culminated in the death of Heather Heyer, a peaceful counter protester.
“It is indefensible for President Trump to revive his horrendous claim that there were ‘very fine people’ marching on both sides during the deadly events that took place in Charlottesville.
“Monuments dedicated to Confederate leaders Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson do not belong in public spaces such as government land, schools and parks. The SPLC catalogued more than 1,700 Confederate symbols located across the U.S. Since the Charleston massacre, 115 have been removed from public spaces and 15 in Virginia alone.
“Not only are we reminded of the mythological Lost Cause through these Confederate symbols of our past that litter the American landscape, but we’ve seen a surge in white nationalist hate groups operating in the United States, which increased nearly 50 percent between 2017 and 2018. It is clear that this is not just an issue at home, but is now a global issue. The threat from white nationalists needs to be taken seriously.
“By doubling down on such an absurd claim, the president continues to use his position to send dog whistles and promote a revisionist history. This continues to embolden people with white nationalist views by justifying their inexcusable and violent actions.”