Virginia Rep. Thomas Garrett on Saturday expressed dismay, shock, and anger at the racial violence tearing apart his city of Charlottesville, and condemned the driver of a car that plowed into a crowd of protesters, killing one person.
“Doctor [Martin Luther King] longed for a society where we judge people on the content of their character, not the color of their skin,” the Republican lawmaker told Fox News, while condemning the white supremacists and neo Nazis who flooded into his town this weekend. “These clowns didn’t get the memo.”
“These people are not from here,” he also said. “They’re from all over the country. It blows my mind that this many racist bigots actually exist in this country…how can you argue with all men are created equal, how can you argue with judging a person by their character content and not the color of their skin? What is wrong with these people? I can’t figure it out.”
And the supremacists, said Garrett, do not reflect “who we are as Americans.”
Garrett, speaking before and after President Donald Trump’s comments on the Charlottesville incidents, said that he does believe the car attack is an “act of political terrorism, no different than the shooting at the baseball diamond.”
The white nationalists in Charlottesville, he also said, do not represent what America is supposed to be.
“I respect their right to speak,” said Garrett. “They don’t have any right to perpetrate violence on other fellow citizens. There’s no defending that.”
Before Trump spoke, Garrett said he does not know where the large numbers of white supremacists who showed up in his city came from.
“I do think we have tried to ignore the clowns,” said Garrett, noting he agrees with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who tweeted Saturday that the “haters” are “agitators in search of relevance and publicity for a vile cause very few people support,” and that they could not be ignored, but it is also important not to “give them relevance they crave.”
The white nationalists are a tiny fraction of a minority and they feed on attention, said Garrett. “It can’t be ignored, in the city were Thomas Jefferson lived when he drafted the Declaration of Independence and observed all people are created equal.”
One person has been killed as a result of the violent clashes, and Garrett said that the victims of the car that crashed into a crowd are victims of “racist violence” and are his constituents.
Garrett said he considers Charlottesville to be the “best congressional district in the nation,” whose first congressman was the person who drafted the Constitution, James Madison.
“Thomas Jefferson, who drafted the Declaration of Independence lived in this district,” said Garrett.” Chief Justice Thurgood Marshall retired in this district. [Ulysses S.] Grant ended the Civil War in this district, and the young girl, a 16-year-old named Barbara Johnson walked out of a racist school system to start this civil rights movement in the fifth district.”