Citizen Action in Response to Charlottesville

Justin Lyons
Aug 16, 2017 · 4 min read

Following a national tragedy, we Americans expect the leader of our nation to unite us by offering the clarity and compassion necessary to heal and move forward.

President Trump has instead chosen to further divide us in recent days. At a Tuesday press conference, he doubled down on his initial statement that counter-protestors were equally at fault for the violence that took place during the tragic events this past weekend in Charlottesville, VA.

“I think there is blame on both sides …You had a group on one side that was bad. You had a group on the other side that was also very violent…What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt…I think they do.”

These impassioned comments came in the defense of white nationalists, whose explicit aim is to use racial superiority and hatred to divide our nation. The president’s position of moral equivalency came after a young woman was killed and dozens were injured when a 20-year-old rammed his car through an opposition crowd, among other violent confrontations.

Days ago, we reflected on how citizens like you have been working to hold federal lawmakers accountable for their actions. In recent days, the focus of this work has shifted, and Americans from across the political spectrum are turning to to speak out.

In these moments, when many are looking for ways to hold their elected officials accountable, we wanted to share the stories of those taking action and how you can join them:

Department of Justice: Terrorism Charges for Vehicle Attack in Charlottesville

Following news of the incident, Marc B. immediately called for the 20-year-old man who drove his car into a crowd of counter-protestors — killing Heather Heyer and injuring dozens of others — to face terrorism charges. As the Department of Justice begins its investigation to pursue those charges, more people are joining the 250,000 people who have signed the petition.

Squarespace: Stop Hosting White Supremacists

After GoDaddy and Google banned the website The Daily Stormer, citizens mobilized to renew calls for Sqaurespace to ban white supremacist organizations from creating websites on its platform. Joseph B. launched the petition because he believes that the company offers an “in-kind contribution” to these groups who promote violence and divisiveness.

President Trump: Remove Steve Bannon from the White House

The President’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, helped lead the ascent of Breitbart News, an online website that has perpetuated conspiracy theories and dangerous rhetoric. More than 340,000 people have continued to call for Bannon’s removal from the White House, given his affiliation to white nationalism as well as his increasingly precarious role in the administration.

Earlier today, we saw President Trump feel the pressure of his remarks as he put an end to both his Manufacturing Council and Strategy and Policy Forum. This development follows as many of the prominent CEOs who made up those advisory councils had stepped down in recent days. It’s those kind of actions that demonstrate the power of accountability.

As the highlighted petitions demonstrate, there are a wide range of calls for action that are moving right this minute. So what are some things you can do right now on your own?

  1. Call on lawmakers to hold the administration accountable: Though Congress is in recess, now is a useful time to reach out to your lawmakers to make sure they’re fulfilling their duties to uphold the requisite decency and integrity of our political leadership. They need to hear from you as they work to best represent the voices of their constituents.
  2. Consider action at the intersection of these issues: The Charlottesville rally centered on a Confederate statue, one many people believe is a symbol rooted in a history of hate and oppression. Many who protested the ideals of white supremacy are just as concerned with other injustices that shape daily American life — the criminal justice system, women’s rights, education, police brutality, and more. Charlottesville offers us the chance to reconsider the ways in which our decision to not fully address our complicated American story has consequences on us all today.

During President Trump’s inauguration speech, he commented: “What truly matters is not which party controls our government but whether our government is controlled by the people. January 20th, 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.”

Now is your moment to remind him and other lawmakers of who is in charge. As the days pass, we hope you continue to visit to browse for petitions you’d like to support, or start a petition on an issue that’s weighing on your heart and mind.

Thank you for being a partner with us in pursuit of a society that affirms our common humanity for the greater good.

Justin Lyons

Written by

Powered by the people. Director, North America Campaigns at @change. Staff on Empowering Citizens in the Trump Era and Beyond

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