New Haven clergy rally against hate and racism, seek unity against those who instill fear
NEW HAVEN >> Joined by about 20 African-American clergy, the Rev. Boise Kimber on Wednesday condemned President Donald Trump as “a white supremacist” who has encouraged the right-wing groups that included neo-Nazis, members of the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacists whose rally Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned deadly.
The “United the Right” rally erupted in violence between the racist groups and counter-protesters, and resulted in the death of Heather Heyer, 32, when a participant in the rally rammed the crowd of counter-protesters with his car.
Kimber, pastor of First Calvary Baptist Church, 609 Dixwell Ave., spoke Wednesday at a press conference at the New Trinity Temple Church of God in Christ, 285 Dixwell Ave.
“As a preacher who has witnessed first-hand generations of racism, seeing Nazis, Ku Klux Klan, white supremacists marching freely in the streets … is a resurfacing of pain, fear, horror, distress and anger,” Kimber said.
“In this day and age we have no choice but to take a stand in solidarity. … We are asking black, brown, whites, Jews, Gentiles, Protestants, Muslims, all ethnicities and religions to unite and fight against the actions of a very few who by design try to steal our joy and instill fear and turn back the hands of time through violence and persecution.”
Kimber called Trump “an indecisive president” whose “aides on one day give him a script” to denounce the hate groups, and then “the next day he talks off the cuff,” reversing his stand. After making a statement Monday condemning the hate groups, Trump at a Tuesday news conference said there were “very bad people” on both sides of the conflict and added that there were “fine people” among those who came out to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, armed with billy clubs, guns and shields.
Referring to Heyer, Kimber also claimed that Trump “has never called this family, has never reached out to this family.”
“We need to be very clear that she provoked no violence, she professed no hatred. Her crime was an all-too-familiar crime. She had the audacity to stand with people of color against white supremacy,” he said.
Kimber called on national Republican leaders, as well as Connecticut’s congressional delegation, Gov. Dannel Malloy and other state leaders, to be more vocal in condemning the violence. While many political leaders have issued such statements, Kimber said there should be more press conferences, with leaders speaking out in person.
(On Wednesday, Malloy attended a rally for Charlottesville in Stamford.)
Bishop Charles Henry Brewer Jr. of the host church also strongly criticized Trump. “It’s obvious to us that we have a president, President Donald Trump, who is not the president of all people. … The time has come when we can no longer be silent. We need to make our voices heard.”
Brewer called Trump dishonest and “a man of no integrity, a man who has no understanding, [who] makes reckless comments with no foundation. … Where is the leadership?”
“In little old Connecticut there are thousands and hundreds of people who are upset about this,” Brewer said, suggesting that impeachment ought to be considered.
The Rev. Jerald Barber, pastor of the Church of God and Saints of Christ on Beers Street, said he and his father had walked with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who protested peacefully for civil rights, and yet “We’re debating fascists, we’re debating Nazism, we’re debating white supremacy. The president is wrong.
“I would just like to say that we are gathered today not making a political statement but as members of the clergy this is a moral issue,” Barber said.
Call Ed Stannard at 203-680-9382.