Idaho’s three of Idaho’s four members of Congress condemned white supremacy and Boiseans attended an evening vigil Sunday as the nation continued to mourn victims of weekend violence in Charlottesville, Va.
Several hundred people gathered at the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial on Sunday evening, holding signs condemning hatred and promoting unity. Jean Heinz, of Boise, was among them.
Heinz held a posterboard on Sunday that read “We will continue to fight for you” under an image of Heather Heyer, the woman who died Saturday in Charlottesville.
Heinz has three daughters — one of whom is about the same age as 32-year-old Heyer, who was struck by a car during a counter-protest against white nationalism.
“We cannot just stand by anymore,” said Jean Heinz. “I do not support white supremacy and this must stop.”
Ashley Brown attended Sunday’s vigil because she was especially disturbed by the escalating violence. Brown held a sign that promoted loving your neighbors, no matter their race, nationality or sexual orientation.
“I’ve been really disturbed by the events taking place in the last eight months,” Brown said. “I don’t think it represents our community as a whole and we need to show who we are as a society. We need to recognize our history and try to move forward.”
Others held signs reading “Too Great for Hate,” “Black Lives Matter” and “Make America Kind Again.”
Kelly Miller, executive director of the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, attended the vigil, holding a yellow Black Lives Matter banner. Miller said violence anywhere only contributes to violence in Idaho.
“We need to be much more visible when we condemn violence,” Miller said. “I’m glad there’s a lot of white folks here, too. We need to work together because we’re not a superior race, we’re not a superior people and we all need to work together if we want to see this violence end.”
Adrienne Evans, director of United Vision for Idaho, was one of the organizers of the vigil.
“It’s incumbent upon all of us to stand up for our country, against systemic racism,” Evans said. “This a moment where we set all of our egos aside and do what’s best for our country.”
Phillip Thompson, executive director for the Black History Museum, spoke at the vigil, saying incidents such as the ones in Charlottesville have become far too common.
“Complacency is no longer acceptable,” said Thompson. “This hatred arises from a narrow-mindedness and unwillingness to respect those who are deemed ‘the other.’ We cannot practice this same narrow-mindedness by refusing to work with those who may hold a different political philosophy or ideology. We may disagree on a variety of fronts, but we must agree to stay united against hatred.”
Rep. Mike Simpson early Sunday offered his condolences to victims in Charlottesville and thanked first-responders in a Facebook statement that earned him an outpouring of thanks from commenters.
“White supremacy and their hateful rhetoric and violence have no place in this country. Let today unite our nation against this evil rather than allow it to be divided by a petulant minority that does not represent the values of America,” Simpson said.
Sen. Mike Crapo echoed that sentiment Sunday afternoon.
“Yesterday’s tragedy in Virginia was the result of domestic terrorism. I condemn and reject the racism and hate perpetuated by white supremacist groups,” Crapo said in a statement. “In the wake of this horrific tragedy, let us gather in solidarity with those who lost loved ones and draw closer the families whose lives have been forever shattered by Saturday’s events.”
Twitter users spent the weekend calling for statements from Idaho’s two other members of Congress, Sen. Jim Risch and Rep. Raul Labrador. All of Idaho’s delegation are Republicans.
On Monday, Risch issued this statement:
“The hateful acts of racism we witnessed in Charlottesville this weekend are reprehensible and I condemn them in the strongest terms. White supremacy — and every other form of prejudice — does not represent our American values. Vicki joins me in praying for the families of those who lost their lives and for those who were injured.”
The Statesman has reached out to Labrador for comment. It is the August recess, and all of Idaho’s delegation are home for a couple of weeks.
“I have been pleased that Rep. Simpson has been willing as of late to break with the Trump agenda,” said Evans. “(The others’) silence really speaks volumes about who matters and who doesn’t, and I think they should be ashamed of themselves.”