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Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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How Pa.'s congressional delegation has responded to Charlottesville

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Aug 17, 2017 6:14 AM
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White supremacists and counter-protesters clashed violently in Charlottesville throughout the weekend. One woman was killed. (Photo by AP)

In the days following violent clashes between white supremacists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, lawmakers across the country have been steadily releasing statements staking out their positions on the events that left one woman dead.

After changing the tenor of his response three times in the days following the tragedy, President Donald Trump has settled on emphatically condemning violent actions on "both sides." He assigned blame not only to white supremacists (who carried Nazi flags and chanted "Jews will not replace us") and white nationalists (whose stated mission was to protest the removal of Confederate monuments) but also to those who opposed them.

Trump's comments have created a firestorm of controversy, and the statements released by elected representatives have run the gamut from criticizing the president outright, to muted responses.

Some are offering unequivocal condemnation of white supremacy, and only white supremacy. But others, in line with Trump, are criticizing the violence of racist demonstrators and counter-protesters equally, or denouncing violence and hate in a general way.

Others have said nothing.

Below is a comprehensive collection of statements and tweets on Charlottesville from Pennsylvania's senators and congressional delegation. The list will be updated as more statements are made.

Senator Bob Casey (D)   

No official statement; many tweets explicitly condemning white supremacy, and condemning Trump's response.

(Aug 12)

(Aug 13)

(Aug 15)

 

Senator Pat Toomey (R)

A tweet denouncing racism; an official statement days later condemning "moral equivalency" between white supremacists and their opponents--an apparent rebuttal to the president's comments. 

(Aug 12)

(Aug 16)

Statement: "There is no moral equivalency between neo-Nazis, bigots, and white supremacists, and those who oppose them. Our country has no room for corrupt ideology or violent acts."

 

Bob Brady (D 1st)

No official statement; tweets condemning bigotry and Trump's response:

(Aug 14)

(Aug 15)

 

Dwight Evans (D 2nd)

No official statement; many tweets and retweets strongly condemning racism/white supremacy and Trump's response, including:

(Aug 12)

(Aug 14)

(Aug 15)

 

Mike Kelly (R 3rd)

No official statement; lots of tweets condemning "bigotry & violence" and referring to white supremacy as a scourge. Indicated enthusiastic support for Trump's handling of the attacks.

(Aug 12)

(Aug 14)

 

Scott Perry (R 4th)

A tweet, one official statement essentially repeating Trump's "violence on all sides" perspective, and another statement doubling down on condemnation for white supremacists, but declining to choose "sides to blame."

(Aug 12)

(Aug 14)

Statement: "Thank you to Attorney General Jeff Sessions for launching a federal investigation into the reprehensible act of domestic terrorism in Charlottesville. I'm saddened and appalled for the families of Heather Heyer, Virginia State Police Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M. M. Bates. I condemn violence, racism and bigotry from all avenues - be it white supremacists, anti-fascists or any other group that perpetuates intolerance and hatred. We can disagree peacefully, and debate respectfully. As much as I have a visceral disdain for the goals/actions of any such organization, this is America. The First Amendment, however, does not mean freedom from accountability, and never warrants violence. Those who perpetrate such acts of violence - including the cowards responsible for Saturday's attack - must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Intolerance and hatred is intolerance and hatred, period. As I said in my initial statement on Saturday, we must be united against bigotry and hatred in all forms and guises."

(Aug 16)

"The White Supremacist groups who went to Charlottesville did so prepared for a fight, and they're absolutely accountable for the violence and loss of life there. I have a visceral disdain for the goals/actions of White Supremacists and Neo-Nazis - as I do for all hate groups. It's a sad day, indeed, when we must all, once again, condemn the rhetoric and ideology of hatred - which, frankly, should go without saying.
The event in Charlottesville didn't happen in a vacuum, and isn't the first type of incendiary riot rooted in hatred that we've seen recently - which, in and of itself, should be alarming to all Americans.

We can't let our national discourse fall into the trap of picking and choosing sides to blame. We need to choose rational discourse, debate, agree to disagree, defend the First Amendment and compromise for the good of our Country. White supremacists, anti-fascists and other extremist groups are becoming increasingly active and attempting to hijack our democracy. The cowards who perpetrate such acts of violence must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and we must be united against bigotry and hatred - in ALL forms and guises."

 

Glenn Thompson (R 5th)

No acknowledgement of terror attacks via twitter; official statement that mentions "hate groups" and condemns violence generally.

(Aug 14)

Statement: "The events that unfolded in Charlottesville, Va. are horrific and my family and I are praying for those injured and the young woman who so tragically lost her life.

While freedom of speech is a protected right in this country, violence is certainly not. Hate groups should heed this as a warning. The people, united, will always stand in face of adversity and continue to strengthen the ties that bind us together as Americans."

 

Ryan Costello (R 6th)

Official statement specifically condemning white nationalists; no other tweets.

(Aug 13)

Statement: "I condemn this hate and violence in the strongest possible terms. Hate is a dangerous thing. What happened today goes against our nation's character. Demonstrations by white nationalists to spread hate and intolerance are a stain on our national identity as an open, inclusive country that welcomes diversity."

 

Patrick Meehan (R 7th)

A Charlottesville-related retweet; statement specifically condemning the "hateful bigotry of white supremacy."

(Aug 12)

(Aug 13):

Statement: "I'm shocked and outraged by yesterday's events in Charlottesville. The hateful bigotry of white supremacy and the violence and acts of terror that accompanied it yesterday have no place in American political discourse and should be condemned by all."

 

Brian Fitzpatrick (R 8th)

Statement and letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions; never specifically mentions white supremacy, but many mentions of domestic terrorism. Also mentioned "hatred and bigotry."

(Aug 14)

Letter to AG Sessions:

"As a former FBI Special Agent and current Member of the House Homeland Security Committee, I am urging the Administration and the Department of Justice to expand the investigation into the horrific events that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Your current investigation predicated on civil rights violations must be expanded to include a comprehensive domestic terrorism investigation into all facets of the tragic events in Charlottesville. These hateful acts must be responded to in a way that is becoming of the ideals of the United States of America.  Expanding this investigation into domestic terrorism is necessary and called for in this instance.

How we respond to this incident as a nation is critical.  The United States of America must have zero tolerance for hatred, bigotry and violence.  The United States of America is better than that.  The Administration and the Department of Justice must denounce the events of Charlottesville, and the individuals and groups involved, in the strongest possible terms, and those words must be put into action by the Department of Justice through a comprehensive domestic terrorism investigation.

As we mourn the lives lost and pray for those in critical condition, we thank the first responders tasked with restoring order and delivering care. We must stand together as Americans, resolute in the pursuit of justice for all. We shall defy all those who seek to tear apart our nation with hatred and violence."

(Aug 14)

Statement: "I am appalled by the violent domestic terrorism attacks in Charlottesville, Virginia, driven by pure hatred and bigotry. These domestic terrorists completely oppose our American ideals of tolerance and diversity. These despicable acts threaten all Americans, regardless of race, creed, or color.

As we mourn the lives lost and pray for those in critical condition, we thank the first responders tasked with restoring order and delivering care. We must stand together as Americans, resolute in the pursuit of justice for all. We shall defy all those who seek to tear apart our nation with hatred and violence."

 

Bill Shuster (R 9th)

No official statement; one tweet condemning "violence and hate."

(Aug 12)

 

Tom Marino (R 10th)

Hasn't tweeted since June 13; no statement.

 

Lou Barletta (R 11th)

One tweet condemning violence; no statement was made publicly, but upon request, a spokesperson for Barletta produced a statement that equally denounced "white supremacists, neo-Nazis, antifascists, and other groups on the fringes of our politics that are motivated by intolerance and hate." Antifascist groups are known to be violent, but typically aren't associated with racial supremacy. 

(Aug 12)

 (Aug 16)

Statement: "I continue to condemn the violence and hatred that we witnessed in Charlottesville this weekend, and I pray for the families of those who lost their lives as a result. Let me be clear: Groups fueled to violence by a false and repugnant sense of racial supremacy have no place in American society. This includes white supremacists, neo-Nazis, antifascists, and other groups on the fringes of our politics that are motivated by intolerance and hate. A decade ago, when I was mayor, I publicly told the KKK that they were not welcome in Hazleton. The same holds true today -- in Hazleton, Charlottesville, and across our nation. The First Amendment protects free speech and peaceful political assembly, not violence. Those who commit violence, including the cowards who committed heinous acts in Charlottesville, deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. We must unite as Americans and continue to collectively condemn anti-Semitism, racism, and bigotry wherever they appear."

Keith Rothfus (R 12th)

Statement specifically condemning white supremacy.

(Aug 14)

"I categorically denounce and condemn the violence that took place in Charlottesville this past weekend.  The hate-filled ideologies espoused by the KKK, neo-Nazis, and other white supremacist groups, belong on the ash heap of history. Our country needs to come together and remember that we were all created equal, and are all members of this one nation, under God.

I send my deepest condolences to the families of Heather Heyer, Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates whose lives were lost during the tragic events this weekend."

 

Brendan Boyle (D 13th)

Tweets calling Charlottesville events disgusting and condemning "hatred," plus criticism of Trump generally; official statement a few days later expressing similar sentiments, and calling for the president to publicly dissociate himself from white supremacist groups. 

(Aug 12)

(Aug 13)

 (Aug 16)

Statement: "This past Saturday, Neo-nazis and their racist sympathizers were engaging in the spewing of disgusting bigotry and hate in Charlottesville, VA.  One of them murdered one person and injured many others. This kind of perspective has no place in modern society and is deserving of the strongest possible condemnation. And yet our President fails to do so, then does so only after tremendous pressure is applied, then backtracks on his comments. Simply baffling.

With a heavy heart, the past few days only reinforce my commitment to speaking out against the moral failings and lack of uniting leadership of our president.  I am a co-sponsor of a resolution calling on President Trump to publicly disassociate support from the white supremacist, KKK, neo-Nazi, and other hate groups who were responsible for the violence in Charlottesville on Saturday.  I am also a cosponsor of H.Res. 456, a Resolution of No Confidence in President Trump, and will continue to stand for American ideals and holding President Trump to our highest standards. The resolution details President Trump's unacceptable behavior, expresses a lack of confidence in his service, and urges him to immediately change course."

 

Mike Doyle Jr. (D 14th)

One tweet and a statement specifically condemning white supremacy.

(Aug 12)

(Aug 14)

Statement: "White supremacist groups are racist and bigoted, and there's no place for them in America. I expect the Justice Department to conduct a comprehensive investigation into these groups and their activities."

 

Charlie Dent (R 15th)

Specific condemnation of white supremacy and Trump's response in statement and tweets.

(Aug 12)

Statement: "The violence that occurred in Charlottesville today, and the ugly, repugnant 'white nationalist' racist displays surrounding it, should shock and appall all Americans. There is no place in our society for this hatred, bigotry, racism, and violence.

My family's thoughts and prayers are with all those killed and injured today and with the First Responders for doing what they always do--bringing care, comfort, and order to chaos."

(Aug 15)

 

Lloyd Smucker (R 16th)

No official statement; one tweet apparently criticizing Trump's statement.

(Aug 15)

 

Matt Cartwright (D 17th)

No official statement; one retweet condemning racism.

(Aug 12)

 

Tim Murphy (R 18th)                    

Statement condemning racist hate, and saying there is "no other side."

(Aug 12)

(Aug 13)

Slightly edited statement online: "Saturday's violence in Charlottesville was an exhibition of racist hate masquerading as political dissent. There is no "other side" to the debate over racial equality and common decency. The racist extremists who sought and invited this violence should be driven from all venues of public life. Hate is hate, and there is no antidote for it but universal rejection."

This past Saturday, Neo-nazis and their racist sympathizers were engaging in the spewing of disgusting bigotry and hate in Charlottesville, VA.  One of them murdered one person and injured many others. This kind of perspective has no place in modern society and is deserving of the strongest possible condemnation. And yet our President fails to do so, then does so only after tremendous pressure is applied, then backtracks on his comments. Simply baffling.
 
With a heavy heart, the past few days only reinforce my commitment to speaking out against the moral failings and lack of uniting leadership of our president.  I am a co-sponsor of a resolution calling on President Trump to publicly disassociate support from the white supremacist, KKK, neo-Nazi, and other hate groups who were responsible for the violence in Charlottesville on Saturday.  I am also a cosponsor of H.Res. 456, a Resolution of No Confidence in President Trump, and will continue to stand for American ideals and holding President Trump to our highest standards. The resolution details President Trump's unacceptable behavior, expresses a lack of confidence in his service, and urges him to immediately change course.

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