JSO Issues Statement on Charlottesville



Following the violence at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA this weekend, which included self-proclaimed white nationalists and neo-Nazis, Fordham University’s Jewish Student Organization (JSO) has issued a statement condemning the events.

“We stand in solidarity with Jewish students, students of color, and LGBTQ students at the university and in Charlottesville,” said JSO Co-President Brandon Satz-Jacobowitz, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’19.

In the email sent to members of JSO, Satz-Jacobowitz details the “racist, homophobic, xenophobic, and anti-Semitic comments” made by the white supremacists and neo-Nazis at the rally, which took place Friday night and Saturday. Among the comments the protesters made were the anti-Semitic slogan “Jews will not replace us,” which they shouted as they marched with torches at the University of Virginia.

“We will work together to fight bigotry on our campus and throughout the country”

Satz-Jacobowitz asks in the statement for members of the Fordham community to let JSO know “if you or any of your loved ones were affected by the incident.”

He also states that students should reach out to JSO if they want to discuss what happened.

“Part of JSO’s role is to offer Jewish students at Fordham a resource and a community for support and the JSO is committed to helping in any way we can,” Satz-Jacobowitz continued.

“We will work together to fight bigotry on our campus and throughout the country,” he says at the end of the statement. “Take care of yourself and stay safe everyone.”

The Unite the Right rally was partially motivated by Charlottesville’s decision to remove a statue of General Robert E. Lee. They initially gathered on Friday night, carrying torches through the University of Virginia. There, they attacked a group of counter-protesters encircling the statue of Thomas Jefferson on campus with their torches and with pepper spray.

On Saturday, the white supremacist protesters gathered in the city’s Emancipation Park, formerly called Lee Park. Toting make-shift shields along with Nazi and Confederate flags, the protesters soon began to violently brawl with counter-protesters before the rally was scheduled to begin at 12 p.m., leading to Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe declaring a State of Emergency. Independent fully armed militias were also present (Virginia is an open carry state).

The protesters were then ordered to leave Emancipation Park, with reports of violence beginning to subside as they were escorted from the area, while counter-protesting groups remained.

Trump first tweeted about the violence, later saying there was “hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides.”

Suddenly, however, a white nationalist plowed his car into a group of counter-protesters, killing one and injuring 19 others. The driver, 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. of Ohio, was later arrested and is being charged with “one count of second-degree-murder, three counts of malicious wounding and one count of ‘hit and run attended failure to stop with injury,’” according to NBC News.

Two Virginia State Police officers—pilot Lt. H. Jay Cullen and trooper-pilot Berke M.M. Bates—were also killed in a helicopter crash when responding to the violence.

On Saturday afternoon, President Donald Trump tweeted about the events, first stating “We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Let us come together as one!” That statement was followed by another tweet, saying “Am in Bedminster for meetings & press conferences on V.A. & all that we have done, and are doing, to make it better – but Charlottesville sad!”

Later at a press conference in Bedminster, NJ, where he is on vacation, Trump said that “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides.”

The vague rhetoric of “on many sides” and Trump’s failure to mention “white supremacy” and similar terms by name led to white nationalist Richard Spencer and neo-Nazi publication The Daily Stormer interpreting the president’s statements as being in support of their cause. Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, who endorsed Trump in the 2016 election and Trump later disavowed after dodging questions on the endorsement, was also in Charlottesville and said he was there “fulfilling promises of Donald Trump.”

Trump’s statements immediately received backlash for their vagueness, including from members of his own party. Among them were U.S. Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, who tweeted “Mr. President – we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism.” U.S. Senators Marco Rubio, Orrin Hatch, and Rob Portman similarly criticized Trump for not calling labelling the violence as a terror attack committed by white supremacists. U.S. Senator Ted Cruz has called for the incident to be investigated as domestic terrorism.

By not labeling the violence as terror attacks perpetrated by white supremacists, Trump also invited further criticism, due to his past statements doubling down on using the label “radical Islamic terrorists” when describing attacks committed by ISIS.

Inquiries to the White House from journalists regarding Trump’s statements asking for greater clarity have only been met by reinforcements of the president’s vague language: “The President was condemning hatred, bigotry, and violence from all sources and all sides. There was violence between protesters and counter protesters today.”

Trump, meanwhile has tweeted two more times regarding the events in Charlottesville, first sending his condolences to the two State Police officers killed in the helicopter crash: “Deepest condolences to the families & fellow officers of the VA State Police who died today. You’re all among the best this nation produces.” He then addressed the death of the 32-year-old woman killed in the car attack: “Condolences to the family of the young woman killed today, and best regards to all of those injured in Charlottesville, Virginia. So sad!”

As public statements continue to be made and circulated regarding the violence in Charlottesville, reports have also surfaced stating that the police did little to curb and address the violence between protesters and counter-protesters as the situation began to escalate.

Another white nationalist rally and counter-protest have already been planned for Sept. 11 at Texas A&M.