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Connecticut Leaders Denounce Violence In Va.; Vigil Planned In Bridgeport

A screenshot of a car after it hit anti-racist protesters Saturday in Charlottesville, Va. One person was killed.
A screenshot of a car after it hit anti-racist protesters Saturday in Charlottesville, Va. One person was killed. Photo Credit: Brennan Gilmore via Twitter @brennanmgilmore

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — As leaders in Connecticut denounced the violence in Charlottesville, Va., after white supremacists clashed with counter-protesters on Saturday, community groups were banding together to hold a vigil on Sunday in Bridgeport to condemn the clashes.

"There is no place for hatred, bigotry, or violence" in our nation, Gov. Dannel Malloy said via Twitter.

The chaos erupted Saturday when what is believed to be the largest group of white supremacists to gather in a decade descended on downtown Charlottesville to protest plans to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Hundreds of others then arrived to protest the racism, according to media reports.

The event turned deadly after a car plowed into a crowd of peaceful counter-protesters, killing one and injuring 19. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency.

The Bridgeport vigil is planned for 6 p.m. Sunday at McLevy Green downtown.

"Join us as we condemn the terrorist acts happening in Charlottesville," said a Facebook post, calling it a "Vigil for Charlottesville and Against Hate."

The event is co-hosted by a number of community activist groups, including C4D - Connecticut Students for a Dream; CTCore-Organize Now, Fairfield Standing United, Greater Bridgeport Young Democrats and CT Women's March.

"There is no place for hatred and bigotry in our country. Our community's thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia," said Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) also condemned the “Unite the Right” Rally, which he called a gathering of white nationalists and neo-Nazis.

“Racism, anti-Semitism and homophobia are tragically alive and well in America today. And make no mistake – these insidious psychologies have been given license to be brought out in the open air by a president that openly seized upon these hatreds during his campaign, and continues to traffic in divisive rhetoric and hateful policies in the White House," Murphy said.

“Today, every leader of national or local significance must condemn the neo-Nazi rallies in Virginia, and the attack on counter-protesters, in the loudest and most unconditional terms."

President Donald Trump posted a number of Tweets on the situation. He also said, "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides. It's been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time."

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) called on Trump to denounce the actions of the white supremacist groups.

“President Trump's words today were nothing more than a dog whistle to the people whose hateful ideologies spurred violence that left one dead and many more injured. Our leaders must condemn hate and bigotry in no uncertain terms, consistently, repeatedly and unequivocally," Blumenthal said. "President Trump’s failure to specifically denounce the racist, bigoted, white supremacist groups who organized today’s rally speaks volumes. Hate and violence have no place in our democracy. I stand with all Americans against today's disgusting display of bigotry. That is not who we are.”

Malloy echoed that in his statement. “As an American, I am disgusted by the violence incited and perpetrated in Charlottesville. The hatred and xenophobia of white nationalists is sickening, and the loss of a life is beyond tragic," the governor said.

"What’s also tragic and unacceptable is the silent complicity from the highest office in our land. This horror is not being wrought from ‘many sides,’ as the President says. It is coming from one side, and the President has never unequivocally denounced that side throughout his campaign or presidency. Instead, he has incited violence in his speeches, sought to divide people, diminished the rights of minority groups, and instigated fear."

Murphy also called attention to dangerous the tactics of the white supremacist groups.

"As images travel the globe of what are reportedly anti-black, anti-Jew militias patrolling the streets of Charlottesville who are masquerading as law enforcement and brandishing military grade tactical weaponry, we need to take stock of whether our laws meet the new public safety challenges that confront our nation," he said.

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes said: "There is no excuse for violence. There is no excuse for racism. There is no excuse for the emboldened actions of supremacists and hate-mongers. There is only sadness and a recommitment to ensure that love and compassion triumph over hate. I know we're better than this. A terrible night for our country."

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