WASHINGTON, D.C. (Aug. 14, 2017) — South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national civil rights and racial justice organization, condemns this weekend’s white supremacist, neo-Nazi, KKK rallies in Charlottesville, Va., and mourns the loss of life in the terrorist attack that killed Heather Heyer and injured 20 peaceful anti-racist protestors. The administration’s delayed, insufficient, and tone deaf response to both the bloodshed and hate is a clear sign that the White House does not take the values of freedom, justice, and equality for all Americans seriously.
“In recent months, white supremacist hate groups have targeted South Asians, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, African Americans, Jews, Latinos, and other immigrants and people of color in a rising tide of violence. This weekend’s tragic events in Charlottesville, and the administration’s anemic response, is emblematic of the White House’s ongoing campaign against communities of color,” stated Suman Raghunathan, executive director of SAALT. “We demand a total and complete shutdown of white supremacy and insist the President abandons the anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and anti-American policies and rhetoric that have validated and emboldened such violence across the nation. We also demand that the white supremacist leadership in this administration be immediately terminated.”
Since the election of Donald Trump, SAALT has documented 141 incidents of violence against those who identify or are perceived as Muslim, Sikh, South Asian, Asian, Middle Eastern, or Arab American, already surpassing totals from the year leading up to the election. The administration’s anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies have emboldened and encouraged such violence, including in May when two men in Portland were stabbed to death while attempting to stop a noted white supremacist from verbally attacking a Muslim passenger on a train.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), white supremacist groups grew by over 54 percent from 2001 to 2014, with Klan groups growing from 72 to 190 in number between 2014 and 2015.
At Charlottesville on Saturday, David Duke, the former imperial wizard of the KKK, stated, “This represents a turning point for the people of this country. We are determined to take our country back. We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed and that’s why we voted for Donald Trump.”
Our constitutional guarantees of freedom have been hijacked by white supremacist hate groups, with support from the White House, and we must continue to respond with a definitive and unified pushback. SAALT stands ready with our partners and communities to continue the resistance against division and discrimination until our communities are free to live in a just and inclusive society for all Americans.