Statement read by local religious leaders at City Council on August 17, 2017: Many of us never imagined we would be gathering here together in response to the racist violence of a Nazi rally in Charlottesville. Many of us are in shock, mourning, afraid, anxious.
We remember especially the family of Heather Heyer who was murdered by an act of domestic terror. We remember also the families of Berke Bates and H. Jay Cullen, the two officers who died in a helicopter accident.
We have seen the images of young white men filled with hate, brandishing homemade weapons, guns, and pepper spray. Our immediate reaction might be to say, “that’s not who we are.” But we know that white supremacy also has a hold on our community in Lexington and Rockbridge County. It has a hold on our very selves.
Let us respond not with denial, but with confession, courage, and resolve to be better. Not just tonight, the coming weeks or months, but even when the media focus shifts to the next event. And there will be other events demanding our response.
Let us dig deep and stand in solidarity against racism together with the people of Charlottesville, Virginia, the nation, and around the world.
Let us lift up all people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, different religions, immigrants, refugees, women, people with disabilities.
Let us stand together firmly rooted in love. Let us pledge not to look the other way, but to confront racism directly, and not succumb to false equivalency that suggests we meet Nazis and white supremacists halfway. There is no halfway between hate and love. As Martin Luther King, Jr. put it, let us be extremists for love.