Our Work Today: A Statement from FFJ Leadership
August 14, 2017
Dear FFJ Members,
Just several days ago, the city council of Charlottesville, VA, voted to sell the Robert E. Lee statue and to create a reparations fund for Black residents, or an “equity package” which will invest $4 million in Black people of Charlottesville. Among those investments were funding for a heritage center, public housing, and GED programs. White nationalist leaders called for a national mobilization to protest the city’s historic move towards structural equity.
We all watched on Friday night as hundreds of white nationalists from around the country, marched on the University of Virginia, carrying torches, using anti-Black, anti-Semitic slurs as they violently attacked counter-protestors. It is clear this was a neo-Nazi-organized event that sought to push back progress. In the face of physical violence, the refusal of police to take action underscored the deep disparity of policing of non-violent Black protestors in Ferguson, Baltimore, New York, Baton Rouge, and Texas (and many other places), and this weekend’s largely white call to violence.
On Saturday, white nationalists marched through the city of Charlottesville. Physical assaults on community members escalated when one white supremacist intentionally plunged his car into a crowd of counter protestors. Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old woman, was killed, and at least 19 other people were injured. Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen, and Trooper Berke M. M. Bates, both Virginia State Officers, also died when their helicopter crashed while monitoring the violent events. In total, three people have now lost their lives as a result of this weekend’s events. As you view the links we’ve shared, we ask you to watch with care, as the images are overwhelming.
On Sunday night Governor McAuliffe declared a state of emergency in Charlottesville. Funders for Justice is watching this specific development carefully, as states of emergency are disproportionately used to target communities of color as well as progressive organizations and leaders. As an example, three years ago, the governor of Missouri instituted a state of emergency in Ferguson in order to quell largely non-violent protest of police abuse in Missouri, and the state of emergency provided cover for police to use militarized weapons as a form of crowd control. In particular, Black people were overwhelmingly targeted.
It is important for us to understand as funders, that this current backlash by white nationalist is a direct measure of our successes in local communities around the nation. Now more than ever, philanthropy must double down in its support to those explicitly addressing racism, white supremacy, and white nationalism. We should note that those participating in the violence were not just from Virginia; they traveled from cities and towns across our country. We are reminded that white supremacy is (and has always been) a fight at our front doors. Those committed to propagating white nationalism are anti-Black, anti-Semitic, Islamaphobic, misogynist, homophobic, and anti-immigrant. Effective responses to this will be grounded in broad coalition-building.
From the activists that risked their lives in counter-protest, to those working now through the nights to prepare for what’s ahead, we continue to be inspired by the movements fighting for all of us. Funders for Justice is committed to strengthening out network so that we are even more agile, responsive, and principled in our support to them.
We will work to continue to provide you with information, opportunities to support, and ways to coordinate our efforts together. Please know that we appreciate you during this tumultuous time. Below are some quick links to ways you can respond, and for more information.
We hope you take good care. Thank you for all that you do.
- TODAY: Defend Our Communities: Confront Hate from Charlottesville to the White House.
- Where You Can Donate:
- Further Readings:
Tynesha McHarris, NoVo Foundation, and FFJ Co-Chair
Molly Schultz Hafid, Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock, and FFJ Co-Chair
Luna Yasui, Ford Foundation, and FFJ Co-Chair
Lorraine Ramirez, Funders for Justice at Neighborhood Funders Group