Our America

My America, your America, is an indivisible nation with liberty and justice for all.

I am moved at the start of every legislative session when I repledge allegiance to our flag and the republic for which it stands. When I became a legislator, I swore an oath to support the constitution of the United States, which protects the life, liberty and property of every person.

The provocative invasion of Charlottesville by torch-carrying racists declaring that America belongs to whites was un-American and ugly.

Tragically, it escalated into violence that killed one American and led further to the deaths of two police officers who had to deploy to helicopters to oversee the riot.

What should we do?

First, we shouldn’t miss any opportunity to remember and to recall publicly what this country is about – what Americans have fought for, spilling blood from Concord to Gettysburg and across the world: The self-evident truth that we are all created equal, endowed with certain unalienable rights, among these life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It has taken a couple of centuries for the full meaning of that truth to sink in, but it is the founding truth of our country and what we have all pledged allegiance to many times.

I can tell you that the bipartisan political leadership of the Commonwealth is united in its allegiance to that truth.

Second, we should express our love and sympathy to the people of Charlottesville who have seen their beautiful city desecrated by violence.

Third, we should remember and take comfort that very few Americans embrace white supremacist views. Yes, a great many people voted for a President who doesn’t really want to disengage from white supremacists. Yes, we all have our conscious and unconscious biases. But most Americans pledge allegiance to our indivisible republic and mean it.

More than that, we should remember that most humans everywhere want nothing more than peace. A few years ago, I rode a bicycle across the country. Mostly alone, I was vulnerable and occasionally in need and I met a lot of people who were very kind to me, although many of them had worldviews very different from mine. And I have knocked on a lot of doors in the neighborhoods of my district and spent a lot of time listening to people. While again, many have different views, most people are kind and tolerant.

Tactically and locally, what should we do?

We should make clear that we do not welcome a hateful message – the Mayor and Governor have already been very clear about that.

Yet, if a small, sick minority of people wish to march under a white supremacist neo-Nazi banner they have a right under our constitution to do so and we should make sure that their event does not escalate into violence. The Boston Police, backed up by the State Police, are very prepared to do that.

Over the days to come, as citizens, we should participate in peaceful rallies and vigils expressing our commitment to American values – liberty and justice for all. It is likely that this weekend, there will be rallies in Boston.

Plans are forming to channel a positive, American rally on Saturday to a location separate from the possible supremacist rally. We should not be giving that un-American brush fire the oxygen of attention.

People seeking to know the safe places in Boston to go march or congregate for American values this weekend should visit bpdnews.com for the most up to date information or follow @marty_walsh and @bostonpolice on Twitter.

Joint Resolution and Proclamation adopted by the House, the Senate and the Governor of Massachusetts, August 17, 2017


WHEREAS, white nationalist organizations in our country have consistently promoted values that are overtly racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-immigrant, and these poisonous ideologies continue to promote hatred, bigotry, and violence specifically against individuals solely on the basis of their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and immigration status; and

WHEREAS, today, white nationalism and neo-Nazism remain very real threats to the values for which the Commonwealth stands, and their reinvention as the “Alt-Right,” should not mitigate their hateful ideologies; and

WHEREAS, while free speech is a bedrock value for the citizens in our Commonwealth and Country, white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups promote a message that is the antithesis of Massachusetts’ dedication to civil rights for all, and is in irreconcilable conflict with our foundational principles of liberty and justice for all; and

WHEREAS, white nationalism and neo-Nazism are continuing to grow as menaces to societal order as they seek to reignite social animosities, reverse improvements in race relations, divide the nation, and foment hatred, classism, and ethnic eradication; and

WHEREAS, the white nationalist and neo-Nazi message of racial and social intolerance has led to senseless acts of violence that continue to terrorize members of ethnic and religious communities; Now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that we strongly denounce and oppose the totalitarian impulses, violence, xenophobic biases, and bigoted ideologies that are promoted by white nationalists and neo-Nazis; and be it further

RESOLVED, that we urge law enforcement agencies and elected officials at every level of government to condemn white nationalist and neo-Nazi ideology, to vigorously pursue justice in response to hate-fueled violence and work to ensure the protection of the marginalized and targeted communities.

RESOLVED, that copies of this resolution be transmitted to the Mayor of Charlottesville, Governor of Virginia and President of the United States.

Information from Mayor Walsh and BPD Advisory re Events on Saturday, August 19

“Free Speech” Rally at the Boston Common: 20-100 participants expected

-The rally has been permitted to take place between 12:00-2:00pm.
-The rally will be located at the Bandstand on Boston Common.
-The area of the rally will be barricaded with steel barriers and monitored by police officers.
-Banned items for demonstrators on both sides: bats, sticks, and backpacks.
-Police will have a “zero-tolerance policy” for any actions deemed dangerous and will result in removal from the event.

Counter Protest March and Rally: 1-5000 or more participants expected

-The march will begin at the Reggie Lewis Center in Roxbury. The gathering begins at 10:00am and the procession should depart around 11:00am.
-The march will proceed down Tremont Street and onto Charles Street where participants will enter Boston Common through the gate on Charles Street (where Boston Common Parking Garage is.)
-BPD will guide the route with motorcycles, cars, bicycle units, and Officers on foot. The vehicles will block cross streets while participants march through.
-The participants of the march will then rally in the large open area to the left of where they enter (Corner of Beacon and Charles.)
-Banned items for demonstrators on both sides: bats, sticks, and backpacks.
-Police will have a “zero-tolerance policy” for any actions deemed dangerous and will result in removal from the event.

BPD Community Advisory for Events Scheduled for Saturday, August 19, 2017 on the Boston Common

On Saturday, August 19, 2017, the Boston Police Department anticipates large crowds to gather in the Boston Common and participate in a march along a predetermined route beginning at the Reggie Lewis Center and ending in the Boston Common. The Department has been and continues to be in contact with event organizers from several groups and is working with them to ensure a safe and peaceful day. The Department has a comprehensive operational plan in place. While details of the plan are not for public release, people can expect a large police presence of both uniformed and undercover officers. The Department will be deploying fixed video cameras and mobile video support teams to assist with keeping the event safe for all who attend.

Parking in and around the Boston Common will be prohibited. Signs have been posted, “No Stopping Boston Police Special Event” on effected roadways. Due to increased public safety concerns, if you plan on visiting the Boston Common on Saturday August 19, 2017 it is strongly recommended that you do not bring backpacks, large bags or strollers. If you do choose to bring these items, they may be subject to search and there will be no storage area designated to leave your belongings.In order to provide a safe and peaceful environment, the Boston Police Department has determined certain items be prohibited from the Boston Common.

Please see the list of prohibited items below:
• Firearms, knives, weapons, sharp objects, shields or fireworks
• Pop up tents or canopies
• Cans, glass containers, pre-mixed beverages or alcoholic beverages
• Wagons or pull carts
• Coolers
• Drones
• Pets (excluding certified service animals)
• Grills, propane tanks or open flames
• Bicycles
• Flag poles, bats, clubs, sticks (including signs attached to sticks)
• Any athletic equipment or other item which could be used as a weapon

The Boston Police Department expects all who will be attending events on the Boston Common to act respectfully and responsibly. The Department intends to provide a safe and peaceful opportunity for people to exercise their Constitutional rights. Violence or property damage of any kind will not be tolerated. Anyone engaging in illegal behavior is subject to arrest and prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.

See also Globe Story here.

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

121 replies on “Our America”

  1. Thank you for being at the vigil in Belmont last night. I wasn’t surprised that you were there, but your presence was appreciated nonetheless. It’s always good to know that our local elected officials will stand up for justice.

  2. Well said Will.

    What happened by a few disturbed, racist and hateful individuals in Virginia is incredibly disturbing and sad.

    The conflict between “I hate them so I want to squash those racists’ voices so bad and not let them congregate” vs “Let them do what they want, and don’t give them the time of day so they’ll be ignored,” is what America is about. The harder we work at balancing that conflict is what makes us American.

    It reminds of that scene in the American President where Michael Douglas (as POTUS) talked about “defending those very ideas that disgust me is hard work; it’s advanced citizenship.”

    So many of us have been put into a “my team” vs “their team” mentality that we often forget that regardless of whether someone is Republican or Democrat, Liberal vs Conservative, Black or White, Sox fan or Yankees fan (ok, let’s hold on that one) that we’re all pretty much the same (with the exception of some extreme fringe groups like the KKK).

    A lot of people forgot that in Charlottesville, and none of us are helped by our inept national leadership, who puts fuel to the fire for their own selfish needs…because “Yay team! I won!”

    Thanks for the note, and keep doing what you’re doing as State Senator!

  3. I’d like to see counter protests adopt the theme of “Turning our backs” on the new Nazis. It would be very effective to see these fringe groups utterly dwarfed by the overwhelming size of mainstream Americans at a countervailing event who completely refuse to engage with them.

    What I very much do not want to see is a bunch of antifa in black masks spraying mace. Not helpful.

  4. Thanks Will.
    This is a brush fire, as you said, and will not go anywhere, it will be suffocated quickly but most American that think differently, guided by the sacred beliefs chiseled in our laws, old and new.

  5. You wrote: The provocative invasion of Charlottesville by torch-carrying racists declaring that America belongs to whites was un-American and ugly.

    I reply: Welcome to the American climate Democrat Hussien Obama created in 8 years to which nobody, Democrats included, dared complain.

  6. Senator Brownsberger,
    Thank you for these thoughtful words. I am so very disappointed with America these past few months, feeling that so much good was being dismantled without a protest from people who could have stopped the destruction. You have given me hope.
    Pam Clancey

  7. Your ideals are noble, Mr. Brownsberger, but America has been a racist society since 1616, when the first blacks were unwillingly brought to our shores.

    Racisim is not an essential characteristic of human beings, such a bi-pedalism. It is a cultural attribute that can be whipped up by demagogic leaders, such as Donald Trump.

    If you agree that Trump doesn’t want to disengage from white supremacists, then I urge you to ask your legislative colleagues to pass as resolution denouncing him

      1. It took President Trump 2 days to call out Neo Nazis and the KKK by name. It really should not be that difficult to condemn those groups. Perhaps denouncing them as quickly and forcefully as he denounces CNN and a whole host of other annoyances would be a start.

        I also notice you don’t really identify yourself. Why is that?

        1. Unless you have a different transcript, what I read said he condemned the KKK and Nazis by name the first day.

          1. Steven Salerno claims he read Trump’s transcript.

            That’s untrue. He read only the part that he liked.

            When reporters repeatedly questioned Trump about the Charlottesville fascists (KKK, Nazis, white nationalists, white supremacists), Trump replied:

            “But you also had people that were very fine people on both sides.”

            People who worship the selling, buying, ownership, and enslavement of other human beings are never “very fine people.”

            The fascists that Trump condemns are the very same fascists that he praises. Any potential condemnation totally fails when followed by a description of the condemned as “very fine people.”

            Only a fascist calls other fascists “very fine people.”

            “Full Text of Trump’s Comments on Fascists in Charlottesville”
            Politico, 15-Aug-2017

      2. He needs to fire Bannon and Gorka, restore funding to every law enforcement effort directed against white nationalist domestic terrorists, and appoint some women and people of color and democrats to cabinet positions. That would be a reasonable start.

  8. Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I’d like to participate in a peaceful gathering this Saturday far away from the common.

  9. Thank you for “showing up,” Will. Too often these days the patient reiteration of fundamental American commitments to equality and equal access to justice and opportunity is drowned out by anarchist voices and sentiments. Your consistent representation of those values is a notable exception.

    Well said, and well done!

  10. T thank you for clarity about the Saturday rally and for a strong stand for justice and civility.

  11. I find your innuendo that President Trump is tangentially responsible for this latest extremist eruption disturbing. If you pledge allegiance to the republic and its constitution, you should join in supporting the duly elected constitutional officer, President Trump, in disavowing the violent extremism from both sides of the political spectrum. As to safe spaces, I think a great deal of blame in this goes to the inaction of the Charlottesville police (as in Baltimore) in not quickly suppressing a dangerous situation and arresting the perpetrators. I hope Boston law enforcement will be better prepared. A great deal of the violence at the Trump rallies was proved to have been set up and paid for by George Soros connected groups — I suspect much of this same rent-a-mob is showing up here. In other words, we have the National Socialists vs. the International Socialists — both groups are to be avoided, and I hope prosecuted.

    1. Although there was no intended innuendo in the piece, since you raise it, I do feel that a President that keeps people like Steve Bannon in the West Wing is encouraging extremists. He needs to separate himself much more thoroughly from those elements.

      It does appear that, as you say, that there were a few left wing anarchists who joined the response to the extremist rally and didn’t help the situation.

      I can’t opine on how the Charlottesville police handled things — there were a lot of things happening at once, but I’m very hopeful that we will manage any similar events better here.

        1. There was no “both” in Charlottesville; that was a Trump … misstatement … which the alt-right took as supporting their case. (And they’re still claiming his support: “He called out racists; we’re nationalists.”) There is no oath in this country requiring support for a fool just because they sit in the Oval Office; if there were, a number of military officers would have been cashiered during the Clinton and Obama terms.

          1. Yes, there was both. Antifa was present. People brought tear gas. I know people who accommodate violence keep trying to reach for excuses but I won’t let them! 🙂

            1. Steven Salerno’s own language reveals his biased report (“Anti-fascists were present. People brought tear gas.”).

              Yes, the fascists (KKK, Nazis, white supremacists, white nationalists) brought tear gas, camouflage clothing, combat uniforms, helmets, goggles, bullet-proof vests, ammo-belts, swords, bats, violence symbols, and all types of firearms, whereas the anti-fascist counter-protesters brought backpacks, water, and first aid supplies.

              What everyone brought, said, and did is exquisitely documented right here.

              “Charlottesville: Race and Terror”
              HBO Vice News, 14-Aug-2017

        1. You claim to refer to the Washington Post, but the link is to Washington Times; they may not be Alex Jones, but they are not a reputable source.

      1. David Horowitz has a book called Big Agenda that lists several pages of Soros connected groups. Many of them are environmental groups that do work I have supported for decades; why does Soros? Hm, well I guess I will have to read the book to find out.

    2. One of the reasons the Charlottesville police have stated for their response, is they were heavily outgunned by these lunatics carrying automatic weapons. As for your paranoid conspiracy claims, no such thing has been “proven”, it has been asserted by far-right radio talkshow hosts, but remains an evidence- free claim.

      1. Perhaps Michael can tell us how such an ad hominem attack elevates the discussion?

        1. I can Eric. It raises the level of the discussion, because your anti-Semitic comment about George Soros is in the gutter.

          1. Was there an anti Semitic comment I didn’t notice? Many people who are not anti Semites, and many who oppose Trump, are tired of billionaires secretly swaying governments.

            If there is no anti Semitic remark that I missed, you might want to retract your comment. Because if these kinds of names are to be flung about at any idea with which you disagree, it does raise the question whether we really are in imminent danger of a Fourth Reich, or whether perhaps the threat of a Nazi takeover by fat middle aged Walmart shoppers and teenage neckbeard gamers might be overstated just a tad.

  12. Thank you, Will..

    we here in the Commonwealth are so lucky and should be grateful for the strong but open messages being sent by our governmental officials.
    The Sothern Poverty Law Center which stands against hate and Injustice and for civil rights has been tracking hate groups for years. They started alerting people to the rise of hate groups once Barack Obama became president. The increase is huge.
    I urge everyone to go their website and view the ‘hate maps’ . We have been groups in MA.

  13. This is a wonderful and powerful statement Senator that really makes us think about “Our America” and just how wonderful it is. I am so glad to live in America.

    Thank you.

  14. One of my daughters graduated from the University of Virginia, and so spent four years in Charlottesville. So this event hit very close to home for her and us.

  15. As the child of Holocaust survivors, (not in concentration camps), this hits at my core. I am sickened by these people.

    That being said, they do have a right to protest PEACEFULLY.

    Personally, it takes two to tango, and if the opposition would just ignore them, as a strategy, no tragedy can occur too.

    Both sides were violent and one person went to the horrific extreme to use a car as a weapon as we have seen around the world now.

    The President was late to the party in denouncing these hate groups.

    We should just ignore them. Let them protest, but stay away, and by far, there would be less coverage and less problems.

    To me they are despicable, but they too live in our great land. They, however, in my opinion, make our great country less great for sure.

  16. Thank you Will. An era of healing is certainly needed at this point in time, not increased dissent. I applaud your emphasis on the positive.

  17. While I agree with you, for the most part, I take issue with you on: “Yes, a great many people voted for a President who doesn’t really want to disengage from white supremacists.” Frankly, I do not believe this for a minute and I don’t really think you do either. I voted for him, not for his political skills or flowery oratory, but to make this country great again. Unless you state the facts that back this up, you are maligning the President (and every voter like me who believes in him). At times like this, we all need to be on the same team. I think you should retract it but that’s up to you. Respectfully,

    1. I think I read that statement a bit differently than you did: it is definitely the case that a great many people voted for Trump, and I think “he doesn’t want to disengage from white supremacists” is a very fair statement. But I also don’t think, and I didn’t think Will was implying, that that is *why* most of the people who voted for him did so — I read the statement as suggesting just the opposite. He certainly tapped into that element, but he also tapped into a general frustration with the status quo, and there were lots of folks who didn’t agree with his racist agenda, but were willing to overlook it for some of the other things he was promising. I think it’s deeply unfair to lump those people in with white supremacists.

      I didn’t vote for him. I think his slogan of “make America great again” was another hollow statement by another sleazy politician, used to dupe the people he’s supposed to be serving. But I also don’t think holding him accountable is disrespectful to those who voted for him.

    2. Thank you, Phil. Ian read my statement right: I don’t mean that people voted for Trump because of his closeness to white supremacists. I think that people who voted for him were unaware of those ties or felt they were minimal.

      But by keeping Steve Bannon in the Whitehouse, Trump is staying closer to white supremacists than any leader should.

  18. Thanks, Will. I was proud of Watertown’s peaceful vigil last night and encouraged by the positive response we had from folks driving by. Thank you for coming to that and for your thoughtful response here.

  19. I voted for President Trump and am proud of it. This doesn’t mean I am a racist but voted for someone who would be for America first. The situation in Virginia was sad. There was more than White supremacists there. This country has problems with those on the far right and those on the far left.

    1. David,

      I didn’t vote for Mr. Trump, but I understand some good reasons why you and others did.

      Sadly, nothing he has said, done or tweeted has made me think he has any ability or desire to accomplish anything positive during his tenure as president.

  20. From reports I saw the Right had weapons, batons,flags,guns & in one case an automobile that was used as a weapon and killed a woman. The “other side” were made up of Campus Students,faculty and City Residents (who had voted already to remove the Lee statue), and many of THESE people stopped to help people injured. The Right had marched the night before with torches,confederate flags,white supremacist, KKK, and Nazi signs aping Nazi torch parades in Germany last Century. I believe many came for out of State. Well, I had an Uncle who died to rid this world of such people as Hitler. The Right wants to resurrect those ideas and this should absolutely be opposed.
    I did NOT vote for Trump and he has no interest in representing ALL Americans, only those who actually voted for him. So Mr. Trump is no surprise to me.

  21. I speak for many I’m sure when I say that your heartfelt presence at so many events, including the vigil at First Church on Monday, means much to me. Having leadership support the common citizen lends great comfort that we have a truly supportive community where democratic, humane principles will be carried forward in just and fair policies that consider us all equally. This reassurance is doubly important in times like this when the leadership of our country is so damaged, jeopardizing all we hold dear. Thanks, Will.

  22. We should show up. We should speak up. Ceding the Common to demonstration of hate will not likely deprive oxygen to the haters… It may simply provide visuals of uncontested attack on our sciety. These visuals will not go away…. The stark, uncontested KKK parades in Washington D.C. and NYC in the 1920s are hard to watch and think about. The should not be a modern Boston version.

    1. You need to cede the Common–or part of it–to anybody who has a permit. That’s how it works. Counter protest from a safe distance. No violence period. Nobody needs self appointed cavalry riding in on their high horses.

      Any technique you want to ok against them can be used against you. Some people figured that out long ago and gave us this cool Constitution.

  23. Well stated.
    Every group has the right to speak.
    No group has the right to be violent.
    We have a developmentally deficient president with no internalized moral code. He is a sick and dangerous man–a pure psychopath arrested at an infantile level.
    He is not fit to be the leader of the people of the country that you describe.

  24. Thanks for the information. This is something I hopped we would never see/experience again.My cousin was a hidden child in Holland.

    at Gold

  25. A separate venue for counter protestors sounds good to me. Even if I’m behaving, I’d rather not meet the one who is not head on. Besides maybe the supporters will be more numerous for U.S. ideals in another setting.

  26. Thanks Will & hopefully Boston Police will make sure Paul Revere is not hurt or desecrated in any way for sitting astride his beautiful black stallion that assisted in keeping our Commonwealth alive & that our President keeps his mouth shut & stop all the turmoil he has created!

  27. I listened to Pres. Trump’s interview today about the incident and found that the press has not responded to his comments about BOTH sides having violent people in their ranks. Nevertheless, the press and other news commentators continue to blame him for not responding to their accusation that he didn’t issue a statement concerning the kkk. Yet he did. He said that they were also guilty in their violence.On the other hand, Trump is not a model for a decent president.

    1. Let’s separate Trump’s buffoonery from the reality of the situation. Both sides in general–not at this specific rally–do have violent people in their ranks. Did you forget that a Bernie supporter tried to assassinate Republican Congressmen and almost succeeded? This narrative is beginning to sound very curious to me.

      I think the best message would be anti Nazis silently standing guard to protect the Nazis from violence. There was a similar photo from VA of a black cop guarding the KKK and it was extremely powerful.

  28. Thank you Will for reminding us that it is a very small faction that believes in a homogenous America. I am still very grateful to live here in the America. Tolerance and acceptance is key.

  29. Thank you, Will, for your inspiring words and for being with all of us Monday night in Watertown Square. Your presence and support always mean so much, but especially in this difficult time.

  30. Will,
    Have been away, and am glad to see your statement, with which I agree totally. It is very important to defend the basic principles of our democracy, especially when groups or individuals violate them. It is also important that we speak and act positively about the basic values of the USA.

  31. As lovely and thoughtful as these words are, I sincerely hope our US Senate and House garner up the courage to act, to impeach.

  32. My parents were Holocaust survivors (my great grandmother died in Auschwitz) and I owe it to them to continue the fight against Nazism and other hate groups. I am grateful they are no longer alive to see a Nazi flag being waved on American soil. I will be representing them at the counter-protest in Boston on Saturday.

  33. If any of you would take the time to read the works by Alice Miller (e.g., For Your Own Good) you would clearly see the path from child abuse to violent ideologies and worse. People who voted for Trump, including me, were sick of seeing this country auctioned off to multinational corporations and lousy trade deals. Trump is not Christ, he’s a flawed human, but he wasn’t Hillary either. The only vision she had was wanting to be the first woman president and we all saw how she crushed Bernie to do that.
    What happened in VA was terrible of course, but one mentally ill 20 year old is not the template for the vast swath of frustrated, disillusioned Americans that put someone in office cause he spoke to them-not in a racist dog whistle, but putting their work hard get ahead visions back on the table. The US is NOT a racist country except maybe a few pockets, most people have family and friends of every color and persuasion. And hating a few bigots won’t improve them, either.

    1. True, Lisa.

      Noone is saying that voting for Trump makes you a bigot.

      And I agree that most Americans, including most Trump voters, condemn neo-nazism.

      But right now, Trump is not providing the clear moral leadership towards unity and mutual tolerance that we need. Other recent Presidents, Republican and Democrat, have done much better on that.

      1. He could not do worse than Obama, who, in spite of his Nobel Peace Prize and the other Congressional Medal he awarded himself, seemed to do his level best to divide this country into victim/identity groups, making such rash statements as “The Cambridge Police acted stupidly” before any of the facts were in.

      2. The mainstream media won’t give him credit for waiting to get the whole story before speaking. If you recall , the whole world was waiting to see what North Korea was or wasn’t going to do. Meanwhile, it does seem like there is a wide array of entrenched politicians and others who do not want their insider trading and power disrupted by the non-politician outsider. Personally I’m sick of it. There needs to be TERM LIMITS at every level of government.

    2. When we talk about white terrorists as “mentally ill” but other terrorists as products of a flawed culture then yes, racism is a problem in the US.

    3. Your evaluation in casting your precious vote should not have been Trump was not Hillary, but Trump was not Hitler.

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