This is America.

This message can be attributed to the ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Claire Gastañaga and Board of Directors President Steve Levinson.

Like many of you, we watched with brewing outrage and reprehension as extremists and agitators stormed the U.S. Capitol in a failed coup attempt to overturn the legitimate outcome of a democratic election. We are sickened and distraught by the vile acts committed on Jan. 6 in Washington, D.C. We must also recognize that the bigotry and racism that enabled this violence is rooted in the very founding institutions of America, which were built on the lands stolen from Indigenous people and on the backs of Black and Brown people.  

If this had been a protest led by Black and Brown people, there would have been more teargas, live and rubber bullets, injuries, arrests and deaths. We know it because we’ve seen it countless times throughout America’s history.  

We remain solemnly in solidarity with all of our ACLU colleagues, supporters, coalition partners, community organizers, advocates, and millions of Americans who are traumatized by these senseless, indefensible acts. We condemn white supremacy, those who perpetrate it, and those who are complicit in it – including the outgoing president, who has consistently sought to undermine the will of the people and subvert the peaceful transfer of power. If this had been a protest led by Black and Brown people, there would have been more teargas, live and rubber bullets, injuries, arrests and deaths. We know it because we’ve seen it countless times throughout America’s history, most recently this summer in Virginia as thousands of protesters gathered to affirm that Black Lives Matter.

 

This is America. White supremacy is as American as apple pie. America is at another critical turning point. When we turn off our screens and retreat to our little corners of the world, to our families, our loved ones, neighbors and communities, we are confronted with a daunting question: What are we going to do about this?

We will continue to wake up every morning trying to find our own answers. We will continue to do the work, showing up at the statehouses, on the streets and in the courtrooms. We will help and uplift each other as we build the America that we aspire to be – an America where Black lives are valued, where “We The People” means all of us, and where the promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is guaranteed for everyone.