Democratic Mayoral Candidate, Merrill Gay, the New Britain Democratic Party and local Democratic slate are calling for unity in New Britain against Republican President Donald Trump’s support for white supremacists. Gay, Democratic Town Committee Chair Bill Shortell and other Democratic candidates are calling on local Republicans who have supported Trump to do so as well.
“Last weekend’s horrific events in Charlottesville, VA were a wake-up call for our country,” said Gay and other Democrats in a press release. “We can longer ignore the fact that racism has a longstanding, deep-rooted history in our nation.”
On August 12th, the KKK, Nazis, alt-right and right wing militias held a show of force in Charlottesville, Virginia to oppose that city’s efforts to remove a confederate Civil War monument. Billed as “Unite the Right”, referring to the right wing of politics, the gathering attracted many people who openly chanted and spoke racist, anti-semitic and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric in a violent day with three deaths and many injuries. Trump defended the hate groups and sought to spread blame for the violence to both the right wing groups and counterprotesters.
Gay and his Democratic slate took Trump to task. “In his campaign, President Trump appealed to that racism and empowered white supremacists. What happened in Charlottesville, VA was the predictable result of that encouragement from the top of the Republican party.”
“As the Democratic slate, we will not stand idly by,” they said. “We will stand up for what is right and just.” They also said that, “The New Britain Democrats wholeheartedly condemn the violent display of hate, bigotry and racism that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia.”
They added, “Our Republican opponents, some of whom have been quite vocal in their support of the president, must do so as well. When the leader of their party refers to ‘Fine people’ among the white supremacists marching with torches, it is time for local Republicans to repudiate their president.”
Asked for comment, a spokesperson for Republican Mayor Erin Stewart’s campaign referred to comments she made on Twitter and Facebook. On August 12th, Stewart made a comment on Twitter that, “We need a uniter. A uniter amongst dividers. Does this leader exist?” She commented on Twitter on August 17th, that, “Sometimes It may be tough… but I will ALWAYS do what it right.” Also on August 17th, shortly after Gay’s campaign released the Democrats’ press release, she posted an image with a quote from Nelson Mandela, and another post, on Twitter and on her Facebook page, with her own comment that, “Leading the way means making difficult decisions in times of turmoil – It means denouncing hate and standing up for love.”
Meanwhile, on August 17th, Gay spoke at the State Capitol, forcefully denouncing Trump, “a leader, supposedly the leader of the free world, who has intentionally courted this group of haters for his own political gain. And it is essential that all of us stand up and say this is wrong. And it is, actually, I think, more important that members of his own party stand up and say it is wrong. It is disappointing to see the silence from the other side of the aisle on this issue.”
He added, “we need to get to the hard work of dismantling institutional racism in our own communities.”
“Together, we will stand up against racism in our country,” Gay and the other Democrats said in their press release, “but most importantly right here in New Britain.”
“We must not delude ourselves that this only a problem in the South,” Gay and other Democratic candidates said, “Racism exists here in New Britain, from the institutional racism that leaves our children in underfunded, segregated schools, to the unconscious bias in appointing members of boards and commissions to overt incidents at the Water and Fire Departments.”
“The people of New Britain deserve leaders who represent them and will stand up for justice,” they concluded.
Editor’s note, 8/17/2017: Republican Mayor Erin Stewart was asked for comment for this story, but a response was not received before this article was published and later corrected. Also, the original version of this article incorrectly attributed the quotes in a press release from Merrill Gay’s campaign as only from Gay. The corrected version reports it as from Gay, the New Britain Democratic Party and the Democrats’ local slate of candidates.
Update, 8/18/2017: A spokesperson for Stewart’s campaign responded to the inquiry from the New Britain Progressive for comment, referring to comments made by Stewart on Facebook and Twitter. This article was edited to include comments Stewart made on those two social media sites, as well as comments Gay made August 17th on the steps of the State Capitol.