Statement from David McGuire, Executive Director of the ACLU of Connecticut:

We are saddened and outraged by the violence in Charlottesville. We condemn violence and unequivocally reject white supremacy in all its forms. We recognize racism as a Connecticut problem, not just a national issue, and we remain committed to racial justice. We will continue to fight bigotry and prejudice by challenging the ways in which they are embedded in Connecticut’s laws, legal systems, and communities.

The racism and bigotry on display in Charlottesville and in communities throughout our state and country is hurtful and traumatizing for all of us, especially communities of color. We understand the urge to condemn the ACLU for standing up for the First Amendment rights of people with whom we vehemently disagree, including people who have directed their hatred toward us, our families, and our friends. The ACLU defends the First Amendment rights of all people, because we simply do not trust the government to decide which speech is appropriate. Equality and justice will only be achieved if society looks bigotry squarely in the eyes and rejects it, and we remain committed, with all our might, to defending the rights of people who are exercising their own free speech rights to protest and counter hatred. Make no mistake: this weekend’s violent attack against people protesting racism was also an assault on the First Amendment.

We also know that the Constitution cannot be our only tool for liberation, justice, and equality. That is why the ACLU of Connecticut remains committed to ending white supremacy by using every legal and advocacy tool we have, and why racial justice has been one of our top priorities for years. We will continue to seek the elimination of the relics of racism inherent in Connecticut’s criminal justice system, police practices, voting laws, and more.

We stand in solidarity with Charlottesville and with the people across Connecticut who continue to counter this weekend’s hatred with vigils, rallies, and protests. We are encouraged by the political leaders in Connecticut who have condemned white supremacy, and we expect them to back those statements up with action, particularly those who have not supported criminal justice reform, police accountability, or voting rights in the past.