All week, our thoughts and prayers have been with the people of Charlottesville, Va., who last weekend faced an onslaught of aggression from groups marching under the hateful banners of white supremacy, neo-Nazism, and the KKK. Dozens were injured, and one young woman lost her life to an act of apparent domestic terrorism.
In the days following these events, we each spoke with our counterparts, Governor Terry McAuliffe and Mayor Michael Signer, to offer our sympathy and solidarity. Here at home, we stood with community leaders, elected officials, and clergy to say with one voice that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the City of Boston reject white supremacy, racism, anti-Semitism, and hatred in all its forms.
We also convened law enforcement officials to discuss plans for keeping our communities safe in the event of similar attacks. Our immediate focus has been a rally planned for Boston Common on Saturday. We are taking every precaution to keep our city safe, and organizers have been informed that neither items that might be used as weapons nor bags or backpacks will be allowed onto the Common. The Boston Police Department and the Massachusetts State Police will maintain an active and coordinated presence at the Common and any other gathering sites. And we will not tolerate incitements to violence, threats, or unsafe conditions of any kind. The safety and security of our city, our state, and our people will be our number one concern.
We are a city and a commonwealth that believe in free speech, and courts have ruled many times over that groups that gather peacefully may not be denied the use of public space because of their views, however repugnant. But hatred and intimidation are not welcome in Boston or the Commonwealth, and we will always stand strong and support those who are targeted by hateful rhetoric.
As a Democrat and a Republican, we don’t agree on every issue. But we are unified on this matter because public officials must denounce evil ideas and guard against the threats to safety and democracy that they present. For that reason, we were shocked by the president’s failure to take a clear stand in the aftermath of the events in Charlottesville, and we are disturbed by his subsequent defense of white supremacists. It is a sad state of affairs when the leader of a nation that went to war to defeat Nazism gives rhetorical aid and comfort to its latter-day domestic adherents.
These are times that demand moral clarity, moral leadership, and vigilance. Americans everywhere look on in dismay at the prospect of racism and anti-Semitism emboldened. The desecration of Boston’s Holocaust Memorial on Monday was a chilling example of the unpredictable acts that this climate of hate can bring forth.
We take hope from the unity expressed by the vast majority of public officials and ordinary people across our nation. As elected officials, we are reminded daily of the overwhelming goodness in our communities.
On Wednesday, we were both at the groundbreaking ceremony for Martin’s Park, an inclusive playground in honor of Martin Richard, to be built next to the Children’s Museum on Fort Point Channel. Martin, the little boy who lost his life in the 2013 Marathon bombing, is enshrined in our nation’s collective memory in a photograph holding his hand-crafted sign reading “No more hurting people. Peace.”
It was not lost on any of us at that ceremony how badly our country needs to hear Martin’s message right now; how much we can hear it, if we listen to voices like his; and how healing it is to share it again and again with one another.
That’s what we’re asking everyone to do Saturday and every day. In addition to saying what we stand against, let’s remind each other what we stand for, in Boston and across the Commonwealth.
We stand for civil rights and equality. We stand for unity in our diversity. We stand for love and we stand for justice — for all.
And nothing and no one can change that.Charlie Baker is the governor of Massachusetts. Martin J. Walsh is the mayor of Boston.