President Joe Biden Commemorates the Fourth Anniversary of the Racial Uprising in Charlottesville, Virginia

Riot police evacuate the area after violence broke out during the Unite the Right free speech rally at Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA on August 12, 2017. Image: Emily Molli/NurPhoto via Getty Images

On the fourth anniversary of the racial uprising that took place in Charlottesville, VA, President Joe Biden commemorated the events with an official statement released by the White House.

Biden acknowledged the role that white supremacy played in stoking a racial fire that almost consumed the city of Charlottesville.

“Four years ago today in Charlottesville, Virginia the battle for the soul of America was laid bare for all to see.,” Biden’s statement read. “The forces of hate and violence were summoned from the shadows as Neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and white supremacists descended on a historic American city. With torches in their hands and veins bulging from their necks, they spewed the same antisemitic bile that was heard in Germany in the 1930s and with the same beatings and bigotry we saw in Jim Crow America for nearly a century.”

On that infamous day, White nationalists planned a rally protesting Charlottesville’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. James Alex Fields Jr., a rally participant, killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer when he intentionally drove into a group who were protesting the rally.

Biden remembered Heyer in his statement for her courage in the face of domestic terrorism.

“In that moment, the courage of the nation was summoned,” Biden said. “One brave woman, Heather Heyer, a young civil rights activist, was murdered while representing the best of us. Her life and activism are reminders that while we have never fully lived up to the promise of America, we have never fully walked away from it either.”

Donald Trump, who was president during the time of the events, was criticized for not immediately condemning the blatant racism of the mob. At a news conference, Trump argued that there were fine people on “both sides” of the violence.

Throughout the statement, Biden noted the legislative achievements of his administration to confront racism such as an executive order to advance racial equity, a presidential memorandum to combat hate crimes and racism against Asian Americans, and his strategy to eradicate domestic terrorism.

Biden pledged to never turn away from the harsh reality of American racism that is still alive and well.

“We cannot ignore it,” he added. “We must confront the spread of hate-fueled violence in every form.”

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