Atlanta, GA, Tuesday, August 15, 2017: White nationalists gathered this past Saturday for a “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville, VA, where a skirmish that can only be described as yet another domestic terror act ensued. The violence tragically ended in the death of a peaceful protester, Heather Heyer, and numerous other injuries at the hands of heavily-armed terrorists carrying everything from baseball bats to assault rifles. The white supremacist rally was staged against the planned removal of a statue of confederate general Robert E. Lee from a public park and followed an unsanctioned torchlit pre-rally Friday night on the University of Virginia campus that had also descended into violence.
Since 2001, the number of violent attacks in the U.S. inspired by far-right ideology has spiked to an average of more than 300 a year, according to a study by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. The display of violence and hatred in Charlottesville is an unmistakable instance of the white supremacist movement to silence the voices and control the bodies of those most disenfranchised. This violence works to uphold and reinforce dangerous and negative policies, practices, and culture. These actions are acts of terrorism and this terror continues to be the experience of people with marginalized identities in our country. Although this event occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia, this kind of vitriol and hatred is not just a “Southern Thing”, it is a symptom of a national system of oppression that strives to completely silence the voices that are historically ignored. The grievance is made even more significant when viewed in light of the Trump administration’s reversal of a grant to a group that works to de-radicalize neo-Nazis, and to direct all funding toward fighting what the president has described as “radical Islamic terrorism.” The Department of Homeland Security had awarded the group $400,000 as part of its Countering Violent Extremism. It was the only group selected for a grant that focused exclusively on fighting white supremacy.
SPARK Reproductive Justice Now! stands firmly against any body or system that seeks to control the bodily autonomy of others and we send our sincere condolences to the victims of Saturday’s terror attack in Charlottesville, especially to the family and friends of Heather Heyer. Our goal is to ensure the liberation of all people, especially Black women, women of color, as well as queer and trans youth of color due to the legacy of systematic oppression of these groups. The resilience of our communities is staggering but our work does not exist in a vacuum and we deeply honor the allyship of people outside these groups. As we move through the coming days, we hope that this tragedy will, at the very least, reopen the conversation about protestors’ rights especially for us in Georgia, where Republican senators recently passed a “Back the Badge” bill that increases penalties for blocking “any highway, street, sidewalk or other public passage.” With this bill, it is evident that white supremacy jeopardizes the safety in our communities daily. Although the Charlottesville event has been highly publicized, attacks on the bodies of people of color, Black women, and queer and trans people are every day assaults. These events are not mutually exclusive and cannot be isolated from each other. They are connected by racism, sexism, heterosexism, and cissexism which contribute to xenophobia, transphobia, and homophobia.
Now is the time to elevate the most marginalized and silenced voices above those who wish to silence them. It is not enough to “be a good person.” We must be engaged. We must make an intentional effort to foster cultural humility. We must be active in public and in private. We must be loud. We must be brave.
For more information contact:
Dr. Krystal Redman
SPARK Reproductive Justice Now!