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August 13, 2017

Mayor Kenney slights Trump in statement on violence in Charlottesville

One day after a violent attack left one woman dead and at least 19 people injured at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney released an extended statement urging residents to maintain a peaceful atmosphere in the city.

Political leaders and law enforcement officials from around the country have spoken out this weekend about the dangers of an overheated political climate. 

Kenney, appealing to the importance of responsibility in civic life, joined others in expressing his disappointment in President Donald Trump, whose initial response to the incident held back from directly condemning the groups who staged the Charlottesville protest.

"Yesterday, I watched in disbelief as hundreds of Americans gathered to present a hateful vision of our nation that shuts out rather than includes others. They chanted white supremacist slogans and sought, successfully, to kill those who disagreed with them. To call them anything other than neo Nazis and white supremacists would be a disservice. It would also be dangerous.

"In another era, we could look to the highest office in the land to decry this hatred and denounce a (cowardly) act of senseless violence. We might expect that our president, led by a strong moral compass and inspired by a responsibility to represent all Americans, would offer words to help heal rather than divide our country. But we do not live in that age and so that duty falls on all of us.

"Since President Trump began his campaign, Philadelphians have marched, donated and put signs on your lawns and windows. I thank them for embracing a vision of our nation that is rooted in love and unity, not hatred. Now more than ever, we have to actively work to create the American future we want - a future that is diverse and inclusive of different people and ideas. And one in which we acknowledge that hatred based on ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation is not a different political viewpoint - and it is not justified by economics.

"So, I ask Philadelphians to stay peaceful but to remain engaged. Volunteer in a rec center or school outside of your neighborhood. Become a foster parent. Respect the first amendment rights of your neighbors, but do not hesitate to call out bigotry whenever you see it. Together, these small actions can help create the true intercultural unity that many of us believed we had achieved until the Trump presidency jolted us into reality.

"All of us have a responsibility to create the future we want. Just saying we oppose something is no longer enough—we have to remind people what we stand for, and work together thoughtfully and compassionately to make it a reality."

In the recent past, Mayor Kenney has sparred with Trump over the president's stance on sanctuary cities, his decision to dismantle the country's climate change commitments and his attempts to block immigration from Muslim-majority countries.

Philadelphia residents, joining thousands in cities and towns around the country, gathered Sunday night in Center City for a vigil to stop white terrorism.