Statement from Governor Phil Scott on the Ongoing Response to Events in Charlottesville, Virginia

17 August 2017

Montpelier, Vt. – Today Governor Phil Scott made the following statement regarding the events in Charlottesville and the national response that followed. View the video statement here, and read the transcript below. 

“This is a very concerning time for our nation, and many Vermonters have asked my thoughts about the events in Virginia, as well as the President's response. Rather than issue another written statement, I wanted to take just a few minutes to respond personally.”

“First, I'd like to offer my condolences to the families of Heather Heyer, the courageous young woman who lost her life, and Virginia Troopers Cullen and Bates who died in a helicopter crash while keeping watch on the rally.

“Violence is never an acceptable outcome in the exercise of free speech. While it will be our justice system's responsibility to hold people accountable, it's up to all of us, as Americans, to make sure they have not died in vain.

“Second, as the son of a disabled World War II veteran, who died when I was 11 from injuries sustained in the war, I am personally troubled by the President's comments. There is no circumstance I can think of, where a president – or any elected official – should equate the hate speech of Nazi's and white supremacists with the protests of Americans who confront them. 

“The way I see it hatred, racism and bigotry are like embers that, over time – with honest debate, leadership, and a firm commitment to our moral and democratic values – can be extinguished. That's key to our ongoing work to ‘form a more perfect union,’ as the preamble to the Constitution says. When those embedded embers flare up – and let's be honest, they still do, far too often – every elected leader, and indeed every American, has an obligation to stand up to bring people together around our core values and our belief that all people are created equal. 

“We must speak out against racism and fascism in any form, at any scale, any time they rear their ugly head.  And, like in World War II, when these ideologies were accepted and promoted by leaders in governments, it posed a clear threat to our democratic republic, and it was confronted.   

“American Presidents should understand this fundamental fact. When an ember of hate starts to glow here in America, the President has an especially important role in making sure it is denied the fuel it needs to grow. A president's response must douse the flame, not fan it. To do otherwise isn’t consistent with our values as a Nation.

“In part that’s what’s so frustrating and disappointing about the last few days: It may not be intentional, but the President has fanned the flame and made it stronger. We don't have to look any further than the praise his comments received from the former leader of the KKK to see just how polarizing this situation has become.

“Most peace loving, law abiding Americans – left, right and center – want a president to unite us in defense of our American values and stand in opposition to hatred, racism and fascism of all types.

“America has always been a beacon of hope. Let’s continue to blaze that trail and uphold our values. We cannot condone or justify hatred, racism, or bigotry. We must stand up against them. And this ‘brave little state’ will continue to show the courage to do so.”

View the video statement at: https://www.facebook.com/GovPhilScott/videos/1497356010343528/.  

Contact Information

Office of Governor Phil Scott
109 State Street, Pavilion
Montpelier, VT 05609
Phone: 802 828-3333 (TTY: 800 649-6825)
Fax: 802 828-3339

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