"I am heartbroken that a life has been lost here. I urge all people of good will--go home." These were the somber words of Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer shortly after 4 p.m. this past Saturday after the death of 32 year-old Hayley Heyer was confirmed at the "Unite the Right" rally. Heyer was killed when a speeding Dodge Charger, driven by 20 year-old Ohioan James Alex Fields Jr., intentionally rammed into her and several others at the rally. By the end of the day, three people were dead, including two police officers. Dozens more were injured and an official state of emergency was declared in Virginia.
To varying degrees of coherency President Trump, KKK reps, elected officials, neo-Nazis, mainstream pundits, world leaders and everyday people have been weighing in with their opinions on what happened, and the events of the weekend surely have the country taking a long hard look at itself. The brutal truth is that while the left likes to think of 2017 as the year of its "resistance," those on the other end of the ideological and political spectrum appear more emboldened and publicly active than ever. For example, on May 13 a not-so-dissimilar rally was held in Charlottesville in support of protecting the Robert E. Lee statue at the center of all the controversy, and bastions of liberalism like Portland, OR and Berkeley, CA have been home to recent confrontations.
One group of individuals who are consistently in the hot seat, balancing concerns of free speech and public safety, are the nation's mayors. As particular cities are the sites of these divisive and often violence clashes, we wanted to take a look at how city leaders are responding to the events of the weekend, knowing full well that something akin to "Unite the Right" may go down under their watch soon.
Mike Signer, Mayor of Charlottesville, VA
Charlottesville was site of "Unite the Right." Earlier this year, Mayo Signer previously voiced why he was opposed to honoring the Confederate cause but was against removing the Robert E. Lee statue. He was on CNN blasting what he saw as Trump's lame response.
Jim Gray, Mayor of Lexington, KY
Surely not a welcome result for "Unite the Right" organizers, Gray's tweet was quickly picked up.
Levar Stoney, Mayor of Richmond, VA
Richmond was the official capital of the Confederacy during the US Civil War.
John Tecklenburg, Mayor of Charleston, SC
A Charleston church was the site of a deadly 2015 shooting of unarmed African American churchgoers by a white supremacist.
Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles is the second largest city in the nation and Mayor Garcetti has been outspoken about mayors bucking President Trump up on social, environmental issues.
Ted Wheeler, Mayor of Portland, OR
Home of pro-Trump rally in June and deadly stabbing in May 2017.
Marty Walsh, Mayor of Boston, MA
Freedom of Speech rally with similar undertones to "Unite the Right" planned in Boston August 19.
Madeline Rogero, Mayor of Knoxville, TN.
Rogero is the first female mayor of Knoxville and the first woman to be elected mayor in any of the Big Four cities in Tennessee.
Jorge Elorza, Mayor of Providence, RI
Providence was home to one of several #Vigil4Cville events.
US Conference of Mayors
Largest association of US Mayors voices their two cents on Charlottesville
Mayors from across the country have been actively posting to Twitter using the hashtag #MayorsStand4All.