Photo Credit: Casey Kilmartin

Friends of the Presidential Precinct,

A number of you have kindly written to us regarding the horrible events that transpired in Charlottesville, Virginia this past weekend. As those of you outside the U.S. have probably read by now, our quiet town was the scene of a clash between a group of hateful, anti-Semitic, white supremacist protestors and a much larger crowd of counter-protestors. Violence ensued, a counter-protestor was killed, two policemen died in a crash, and several dozen people were injured, some seriously.

This terrible experience leaves us deeply heartbroken for our town, our state and our country. As our visitors and guests know from your personal experiences here, no examples of human behavior could be more contrary to the cultural and civic principles which we promote at the Precinct than those we witnessed for a short day last weekend. Our values of inclusion and the free, peaceful exchange of ideas continue to inspire the daily lives of the vast majority here in our open, welcoming community. We thank you for your expressions of concern. We will continue to extend our deepest sympathy and condolences to those who were injured, and to the families of all who died or suffered in Saturday’s horror.

We want to reassure you, our Precinct friends, supporters and alumni, that most of the trouble was caused by strangers who traveled to our peaceful community, many from far away. Despite these abhorrent events we remain, as you know us, a community that stands for the inherent dignity and value for all people.

The fact that these events were “allowed” to occur may leave many Precinct visitors and followers from abroad – those of you living with different constitutional systems – wondering. The events of this past weekend are an extreme example of the tension deliberately built by America’s Founders into our Constitution and its Bill of Rights. We allow virtually unfettered freedom of speech, no matter how misguided or hateful that speech may be. Sometimes the cost of such tolerance can be very high (as it was on Saturday); but we view the alternative of government censorship as equally dangerous.

At the Precinct we believe that America is stronger when we embrace our great historic diversity and celebrate the community of mankind; and when we use diversity and community to promote equality, empathy, justice and respect for all people. Martin Luther King Jr. said “darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” In this sentiment, the Presidential Precinct remains committed to standing against intolerance, racism, and bigotry; just as we remain committed to our mission of equipping young leaders for responsible citizenship.

Thank you for your continuing interest in and support for the Presidential Precinct.

In solidarity,

The Presidential Precinct
Board of Directors