ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — On the heels of the Charlottesville riots, religious leaders spoke out against “white supremacy” and “policy-driven racism” at a Tuesday evening rally at the University of New Mexico.
“Today, our president …was justifying white supremacy,” said the Rev. William Barber, referring to Donald Trump’s statements on Charlottesville casting blame on “both sides.” “We can’t challenge what he is, because it’s what he ran on.”
Barber, president of the Repairers of the Breach ecumenical group and co-chairman of the Poor People’s Campaign, is part a “moral revival mass meeting” and public event tour stopping in 15 states.
At the Albuquerque gathering, Barber and other speakers addressed a crowd of over 100 people on President Trump, Charlottesville, Va., and the history of racism in America.
The blame is not on Trump alone, Barber said, but also the many citizens and politicians who endorsed and voted for him.
“To say you are against white supremacy without standing against the rhetoric that emboldens white supremacists and the policies they endorse reeks of a terrible ignorance or deliberate hypocrisy,” he said, also pointing a finger at Democrats who have refused to confront “policy-driven racism.”
“We cannot talk about racism only when a ‘Charlottesville’ happens,” he said.
In closing, Barber spoke on the peaceful actions used by Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks to “raise up a movement.”
Vanessa Gunther, a religious studies major at UNM, said racism has been dressed up in “fancy terms,” such as “alt-right” or “neo-conservative.”
“It’s terrible,” she said. “I blame our president and the whole culture surrounding it.”
She said rallies are an important way to “draw a line in the sand” on important issues.
“Us being here is saying to our community, to our state, that we’re not going to let that happen anymore,” she said. “We have to take a stand.”