CLEVELAND, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 29: U.S. President Donald Trump participates in the first presidential debate against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on September 29, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. This is the first of three planned debates between the two candidates in the lead up to the election on November 3. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

President Trump Must Condemn White Supremacy and Racist Violence

Last night, President Donald Trump failed to condemn white supremacist groups and instead told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.” In response, Amnesty International USA’s End Gun Violence Campaign Manager, Ernest Coverson, released the following statement: 

“Last night, President Trump blew yet another dog whistle to the Proud Boys, a group the FBI has deemed an ‘extremist organization.’ While disappointing and horrifying, this isn’t surprising: President Trump has traded in bigotry since day one, putting ordinary people at greater risk of violence and harassment by white supremacists.

“The continued failure of President Trump to denounce racial and ethnic hatred has only emboldened those who wish to normalize discrimination. We have seen how white supremacy, racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim, misogyny, and anti-LGBTQ sentiment are being used to further discrimination against already marginalized communities. The failure to hold accountable those who commit, encourage, or turn a blind eye to this hateful rhetoric only worsens the problem.

“With a system that allows virtually unfettered access to guns, the president’s rhetoric becomes that much more dangerous and potentially violent. Just weeks ago in Kenosha, Wisconsin, we saw the tragic results of what happens when authorities fail to ensure the safety of those targeted by the hateful ideology of white supremacy. The right to protest should not be used as license to intimidate, harass and harm others.”

Amnesty International USA will be closely monitoring over the course of the next four weeks and beyond to keep an eye out for protests and incidents of violence, likely to be spurred by the kind of rhetoric heard from President Trump. Threatening peaceful protesters and urging intimidation against the right to express one’s political opinion is unconscionable, and will not be tolerated.