Service Leaders Condemn Racism Following Charlottesville Attack

People fly into the air as a vehicle drives into a group of protesters demonstrating against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12, 2017. Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress via AP
People fly into the air as a vehicle drives into a group of protesters demonstrating against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12, 2017. Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress via AP

The top officers of each of the U.S. military services are condemning racism and promoting unity following the deadly attack in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left a woman dead and others wounded.

U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and U.S. Air Force Gen. David Goldfein on Wednesday joined other service leaders in releasing statements related to the incident.

"The Army doesn't tolerate racism, extremism, or hatred in our ranks," Milley tweeted Wednesday morning. "It's against our Values and everything we've stood for since 1775."

"I stand with my fellow service chiefs in saying that we're always stronger together," Goldfein said in a statement a few hours later. "It's who we are as Airmen. Integrity, service and excellence ... that's what America's Air Force is about."

Opinion: It's Time to Change Names of Bases That Honor Confederate Traitors

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson was the first of the service leaders to address the matter when he released a statement on Saturday after James Alex Fields Jr., an Army washout, allegedly drove his car into a crowd of protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and critically injuring several others.

"The shameful events in Charlottesville are unacceptable and must not be tolerated," Richardson said in a statement posted on Facebook. "Our thoughts and prayers go to those who were killed and injured, and to all those trying to bring peace back to the community."

Richardson added, "The Navy will forever stand against intolerance and hatred. For those on our team, we want our Navy to be the safest possible place -- a team as strong and tough as we can be, saving violence only for our enemies."

Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller on Tuesday followed suit, tweeting, "No place for racial hatred or extremism in @USMC. Our core values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment frame the way Marines live and act."

The statements from the uniformed leaders were seen as somewhat unusual because the events in Charlottesville were not directly military-related.

The incident started when white nationalists gathered Friday for a "Unite the Right" rally to protest the city's decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee -- a memorial that in 2015 was vandalized with the words, "Black Lives Matter."

Another group of counter-protesters held their own rally Saturday and marched while holding signs that read "Black Lives Matter" and "Love."

The issue has led to a debate over whether the Defense Department should rename bases named after Confederate generals, such as Fort Bragg in North Carolina, which is named after Braxton Bragg, who commanded Confederate soldiers.

Other cities, meanwhile, are seeking to avoid controversy over Confederate statues. In Baltimore, such monuments were quietly removed early Wednesday morning and hauled away on trucks in darkness, The Associated Press reported.

-- Brendan McGarry can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.

Show Full Article

Related Topics

Army Air Force Topics Navy