Connect with us

Faster than Trump's Twitter fingers

Appalachia’s Congressional Delegation Calls Out ‘Domestic Terrorism’ in Charlottesville

Published

on

President Donald Trump took two days to condemn the various white supremacist groups who gathered for demonstrations in Charlottesville that resulted in death and injury.

Trump’s initial response the Saturday of the rally and counter protests had been to lay blame “on many sides,” leading to an outcry before his second statement on Monday, in which he condemned “criminals and thugs, including the K.K.K., neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.” He followed up that statement by a dig at the media.

Elected officials who represent Appalachia on Capitol Hill were much quicker to react. On Saturday afternoon, Democratic and Republican members of the U.S. House and Senate who represent the 13 states that comprise Appalachia took to Twitter and their communications offices to issue statements condemning the white supremacists causing the violence in Charlottesville.

U.S. Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, and Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania, all labeled the violence as domestic terrorism.

U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Virginia, likewise said the ramming of a car into a crowd of protesters, which killed Heather Heyer, 32, should be “investigated as an act of terrorism.”

Through Saturday and into Sunday, other congressional representatives chimed in, most frequently to offer prayers for the dead and wounded, and to condemn the bigotry behind the violence.

Representatives and senators went into more depth with official statements, some of which seemed aimed at the president, if not by name.

“All Americans – and particularly those in positions of leadership – must reject hate groups such as white supremacists, neo-Nazis, the KKK, and others which have no legitimate place in our political and societal discourse,” said U.S. Rep. John Faso, R-New York.

“Saturday’s violence in Charlottesville was an exhibition of racist hate masquerading as political dissent,” said U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pennsylvania. “There is no ‘other side’ to the debate over racial equality and common decency. The racist extremists who sought and invited this violence should be driven from all venues of public life. Hate is hate, and there is no antidote for it but universal rejection.”

“The hate and violence we’ve witnessed in Virginia is reprehensible and has no place in our society,” said U.S. Rep. Alma Adams, D-North Carolina. “As a nation, we are better than this. It’s time we come together to stand up and boldly stamp out bigotry and hate. The Presidents unwillingness to forcefully condemn the actions of these white supremacists is unacceptable.”

U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pennsylvania, not only issued a statement but sent a public letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, writing:

“Your current investigation predicated on civil rights violations must be expanded to include a comprehensive domestic terrorism investigation into all facets of the tragic events in Charlottesville. These hateful acts must be responded to in a way that is becoming of the ideals of the United States of America. Expanding this investigation into domestic terrorism is necessary and called for in this instance.

“How we respond to this incident as a nation is critical. The United States of America must have zero tolerance for hatred, bigotry and violence. The United States of America is better than that.  The Administration and the Department of Justice must denounce the events of Charlottesville, and the individuals and groups involved, in the strongest possible terms, and those words must be put into action by the Department of Justice through a comprehensive domestic terrorism investigation.”


Find a longer list of statements from Appalachia’s congressional representatives below.

U.S. Rep. John Faso, R-New York:

“All Americans – and particularly those in positions of leadership – must reject hate groups such as white supremacists, neo-Nazis, the KKK, and others which have no legitimate place in our political and societal discourse. I am confident that the Department of Justice will vigorously prosecute and hold accountable those responsible for the abhorrent acts which occurred in Charlottesville over the weekend.”

U.S. Rep. Nita Lowery, D-New York:

“My heart is with the victims of the Charlottesville violence and their families during this difficult time, and I condemn these acts in no uncertain terms. In the United States of America, no one should ever be killed or gravely harmed for exercising freedom of speech. Those who committed hateful violence and domestic terrorism, taking one woman’s life while injuring and threatening many more, must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. It is the responsibility of all Americans, including our highest elected officials, to reject this hate that engenders fear and perpetuates violence in our communities and give it no cover through weak criticisms, false equivalencies, and complacency.”

U.S. Rep. Alma Adams, D-North Carolina:

“The hate and violence we’ve witnessed in Virginia is reprehensible and has no place in our society,” said Congresswoman Adams. “As a nation, we are better than this. It’s time we come together to stand up and boldly stamp out bigotry and hate.

“The Presidents unwillingness to forcefully condemn the actions of these white supremacists is unacceptable. My thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones of those lost, those injured, and the city of Charlottesville as the community heals from this horrific event.”

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio:

“The bigotry and violence we’ve seen in Virginia have no place in America. I am grateful to those who put themselves in harm’s way today to peacefully protest against racism and hate,” Brown said. “As we learn more, my thoughts are with all those injured and their families. I am grateful to Virginia law enforcement and first responders. Ohio stands behind Virginia as the state copes with this senseless violence. We must not tolerate racism, threats, intimidation or violence.”

U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pennsylvania:

“I am appalled by the violent domestic terrorism attacks in Charlottesville, Virginia, driven by pure hatred and bigotry. These domestic terrorists completely oppose our American ideals of tolerance and diversity. These despicable acts threaten all Americans, regardless of race, creed, or color.

“As we mourn the lives lost and pray for those in critical condition, we thank the first responders tasked with restoring order and delivering care. We must stand together as Americans, resolute in the pursuit of justice for all. We shall defy all those who seek to tear apart our nation with hatred and violence.”

Fitzpatrick letter:

“Dear Attorney General Sessions,

As a former FBI Special Agent and current Member of the House Homeland Security Committee, I am urging the Administration and the Department of Justice to expand the investigation into the horrific events that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Your current investigation predicated on civil rights violations must be expanded to include a comprehensive domestic terrorism investigation into all facets of the tragic events in Charlottesville.  These hateful acts must be responded to in a way that is becoming of the ideals of the United States of America.  Expanding this investigation into domestic terrorism is necessary and called for in this instance.

How we respond to this incident as a nation is critical.  The United States of America must have zero tolerance for hatred, bigotry and violence.  The United States of America is better than that.  The Administration and the Department of Justice must denounce the events of Charlottesville, and the individuals and groups involved, in the strongest possible terms, and those words must be put into action by the Department of Justice through a comprehensive domestic terrorism investigation.

As we mourn the lives lost and pray for those in critical condition, we thank the first responders tasked with restoring order and delivering care. We must stand together as Americans, resolute in the pursuit of justice for all. We shall defy all those who seek to tear apart our nation with hatred and violence.”

U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Virginia:

Congressman Griffith said, “I am appalled by the displays of racism and hate in Charlottesville this past weekend. The idea of white supremacy is contrary to our belief, as Virginians and Americans, that all men and women are created equal. I condemn this bigotry and the violence it inspired that caused death and injury. The victims of Saturday’s car attack are in my thoughts and prayers.

“I also mourn the two Virginia state troopers killed in the helicopter crash. They made the ultimate sacrifice as part of law enforcement’s effort to prevent violence and protect innocent lives from the forces of hate this past weekend.”

U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Pennsylvania:

“I categorically denounce and condemn the violence that took place in Charlottesville this past weekend.  The hate-filled ideologies espoused by the KKK, neo-Nazis, and other white supremacist groups, belong on the ash heap of history,” said Congressman Rothfus. “Our country needs to come together and remember that we were all created equal, and are all members of this one nation, under God.”

He also added, “I send my deepest condolences to the families of Heather Heyer, Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates whose lives were lost during the tragic events this weekend.”

U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pennsylvania:

“Saturday’s violence in Charlottesville was an exhibition of racist hate masquerading as political dissent. There is no “other side” to the debate over racial equality and common decency. The racist extremists who sought and invited this violence should be driven from all venues of public life. Hate is hate, and there is no antidote for it but universal rejection.”

U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Virginia:

“The neo-Nazi march and the hate and racism on display in Charlottesville are vile, have no place in Virginia, and are denounced by Republicans and Democrats alike in our great Commonwealth. We thank and pray for our law enforcement who protect our Commonwealth and put themselves in harm’s way to protect our communities.”

U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia:

“I am deeply saddened and revolted by the hate and violence taking place in Charlottesville, and am praying for the victim killed and others injured. The racist and anti-Semitic views embraced by white supremacists have no place in our nation and do not reflect core American values of equality and religious freedom. We are all created in the image of God, and I strongly condemn such detestable views against fellow human beings. I thank the many brave law enforcement officers responding to the violence today. I am also extremely saddened to hear that two were killed in a Virginia State Police helicopter crash in the Charlottesville area this afternoon. My prayers are with their families and the law enforcement community as they mourn this loss.”

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia:

“Virginians mourn the life taken in this morning’s events and reject this hateful violence in Charlottesville. We condemn the intolerance behind it and those who would pass it off as a legitimate political movement.

“Those who traveled to Virginia to incite unrest don’t understand the Virginia-born values that make our country great.

“I have been in touch today with the Governor’s Office and the Mayor, and stand prepared to help connect them with any additional federal resources that might be needed. My thoughts are with the victims, the great people of Charlottesville, and the police and first responders who restored order. I will continue to monitor the situation in Charlottesville and pray for its peaceful resolution.”

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia:

“Virginia has come so far in recent decades to put division behind us. Both Anne and I are so proud of this progress. It’s sickening to see the displays of violence and bigotry that were brought to Charlottesville by white nationalists over the last 24 hours, which tragically led to injuries and at least one death today. This is not who we are. Charlottesville is a vibrant community that recognizes the deep scars from our past and has rejected hatred in favor of inclusion.

“The fact that people like David Duke cited the President to justify their views is a disturbing reminder that divisive rhetoric has sadly contributed to a climate where individuals who espouse hate feel emboldened. As they seek publicity through their hateful tactics, let’s pull together–regardless of party, race or religion–to reject hatred in no uncertain terms and stand together. I’m encouraged by the words of leaders on both sides of the aisle who have spoken out forcefully against what has occurred today, and it’s critical that we follow up those words with action that builds a more inclusive future.  We call ourselves a Commonwealth because the word signifies community. It’s who we are and we won’t go backwards.”

A native of the Alleghany Highlands, Mason Adams (@MasonAtoms) is a contributing editor of 100 Days in Appalachia and has worked as a journalist in the Blue Ridge Mountains since 2001. He lives with his family plus dogs, cats, chickens and dairy goats in Floyd County, Virginia.