We at the ACLU of Alabama join with our Virginia colleagues' reaction to the recent events in Charlottesville:
"We are horrified by the violence that took place in Charlottesville on Saturday and the tragic loss of life that resulted from it. The ACLU … does not support violence. We do not support Nazis. We support the Constitution and laws of the United States."
We offer our condolences to the family and friends of Heather Heyer, and we wish a speedy recovery to the 19 others who were injured during this attack while taking a stand against hate. We also regret the loss of officers Jay Cullen and Berke Bates. These deaths and injuries are a tragedy.
We condemn in the strongest way possible white supremacy and its underlying message of racism and bigotry. We are also troubled by the anti-Semitic sentiments revealed in the Vice coverage of the rally. As we have seen in the past, persecution of Jews has always been closely connected to the persecution of others. We are firm in our commitment to stand up for the just and equal treatment of all people, and to fight against white supremacy, anti-Semitism, and bigotry in all its forms.
These displays of bigotry and racism are not new in the U.S., and certainly not to the people of Alabama, particularly African Americans. Our nation's history of white supremacy – reflected in the rally this past weekend in Charlottesville – has left an indelible stain on our democracy.
We understand that it is difficult for some to reconcile our position in this case. Saturday, a woman lost her life and many others were injured while opposing hatred, and we do not take that lightly. This is never easy for us and never will be. For us at the ACLU of Alabama, we pride ourselves in having a diverse staff and board of directors who are passionate about social and racial justice – we hurt, too.
Three of our top issues areas – ending mass incarceration, advocating for LGBT rights, and protecting immigrants' rights – demonstrate the ACLU's commitment to advancing equality and justice for communities that are often the targets of supremacists' bigotry and hate. The ACLU has and will continue to defend the Constitutional rights of organizations and individuals across the political spectrum. But the principle of free speech is not, and never has been, a cover for violence.
For more information, see ACLU National Executive Director Anthony Romero's blog about "Equality, Justice and the First Amendment" to provide further clarification on Charlottesville and the importance of standing up for First Amendment rights.