After the violence we saw in Charlottesville, our hearts break: They break for the efforts to bring hate and division to our commonwealth. They break for the victims of this act of white supremacist terror. They break for the lives lost, and the families grieving now.
I offer my deepest condolences to the families and victims — I know I join many Virginians praying for the young woman who lost her life in a reckless act of terrorism, and the tragic loss of two Virginia State Police troopers who perished in a helicopter crash outside Charlottesville on Saturday. These brave Virginians are some of the best we have to offer, and my thoughts and prayers are with their families and loved ones today and in the difficult weeks ahead.
So, I say this to the white supremacists who descended on Charlottesville this past weekend, and to any who think of coming to our commonwealth again: go home and stay away. You are not welcome, and we are stronger than your hate.
The cornerstone of what makes our commonwealth a wonderful place to live is all that we share in common, not the things that set us apart.
The community of Charlottesville has been asked twice now in recent months to defend our values of openness, diversity, and inclusion against hatred and bigotry — a burden no community should have to bear.
America is a melting pot. Our diversity is our strength. The white supremacists, Nazis, and KKK members who came here seeking to exploit our differences and divide us with hatred have only succeeded in doing one thing: binding us together as a commonwealth, and as a nation.
They chanted, “Take our country back.” But here’s the truth: it was never theirs to begin with. The ideals set forth in our country’s founding — freedom and equality of opportunity — are always worth fighting for.
We’ve lost leaders from Abraham Lincoln to Martin Luther King, Jr. and countless others who have worked to bend the arc of the universe towards justice and equality. Yet, we remain undaunted, dedicated to striving for a fairer, more equal society.
It will take leaders at all levels to condemn those who gladly call themselves white supremacist and Nazis. We cannot let them feel empowered. They must know they have no safe harbor here — in our commonwealth or in our country. Only then, will we be able to defeat white supremacy, and hopefully, end tragedies like we saw this weekend from happening again.
Please join me in prayer for Charlottesville, and know that we are stronger than the hate forced upon us.