Statement on the 54th Anniversary of March on Washington
POTUS & Elected Leaders Priorities Are Not Focused on Everyday People
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Michelle C. Whittaker, Director of Communications
As today marks the 54th anniversary of the March on Washington, the Democracy Initiative (DI) expresses our deep disappointment with the current Administration's continued support and advancement of hate, discrimination, enrichment of corporations and large campaign donors at a time when “kitchen table” policies are in need of being addressed for millions of hardworking families. Once again the Trump Administration has shown it's true colors by pardoning disgraced former sheriff Joe Arpaio, lifting the ban on militarized police gear, putting the life and safety of millions of young immigrants at risk, and pursuing a discriminatory military ban on transgendered personnel – all in the face of yet another natural disaster at a time when the administration rolls back climate protections.
These actions are clear steps to make good on his campaign commitment to “Make America Great Again,” which erodes any progress towards an inclusive, economically equitable American democracy that works for everyone. The Democracy Initiative opposes any and all attempts to shrink the power, rights, and voices of everyday people and this Administration’s continued defense of the indefensible.
“Let's be clear, these actions are not about bringing this country together,” said Wendy Fields, executive director for the Democracy Initiative. “POTUS illustrates that his priorities are not focused on the kitchen table issues that matter to everyone but rather on the corporate and political interests of a few.” Fields noted that the DI, a coalition of 60 organizations representing 30 million members nationwide, has been at the forefront of advancing pro-democracy reforms, with 10 reform victories in 2016 alone. “We still have a lot of work to do and we must double our efforts to build a powerful, sustainable grassroots movement that holds all elected representatives accountable.”
Leaders of DI partner organizations also expressed their deep concern and outrage over recent actions:
On Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio
“President Trump’s pardon of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio is a clear and dangerous abuse of power, worthy of censure by Congress. The sheriff took an oath to enforce the law. He and the president are now united in their contempt for the law and their disregard for their sworn obligations.”
Karen Hobert Flynn, Common Cause President & Co-Chair of the Democracy Initiative
“Donald Trump has made it abundantly clear that he stands with the racists who break the law rather than the brave Americans who seek to protect our country. No matter your race, creed, or gender identity, every person deserves equal protection under the law and equal rights. The president should serve as a moral compass for our country, but Donald Trump has proven to be nothing more than a magnet for hate and intolerance.”
Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director
“After President Trump’s sickeningly inadequate response to the events in Charlottesville, his decision to pardon a man who racially profiled Latinos is deplorable. Not only is Trump supporting an individual who aggressively and unconstitutionally targeted immigrant communities, he is encouraging bigotry and hate among the most extreme members of his base. Trump is also flagrantly abusing his pardon power to help a political ally, making it clear that he is much more concerned with protecting his allies than the communities of color they hurt. Yet again, Trump has proven he is willing to condone racism with this intentional message to extremists that they have a supporter in the White House”
Lizet Ocampo, People For the American Way Political Director
“Providing a presidential pardon should be reserved, solely for individuals who have shown remorse for their crimes. Joe Arpaio has neither exhibited remorse nor repentance for the cruel treatment and racial profiling of Latinos. When connected with President Trump’s refusal to condemn neo-Nazis and White Supremacists, while embracing policies that remove civil rights protections against police brutality; pardoning Arpaio would unfortunately send a familiar yet dangerous message to communities of color.”
Derrick Johnson, NAACP interim President and CEO
"There is no valid reason for this pardon. Sheriff Arpaio supported Trump's campaign, and the President clearly agrees with Arpaio's racist ideology. Using the pardon power to reward convicted criminals based on their political support is a corrupt abuse of power."
Rocio Sáenz, SEIU International Executive Vice President
“It is hard to imagine anyone less worthy of a pardon or of mercy of any kind than Joe Arpaio. He repeatedly flouted the law by engaging in the highly publicized and self-serving harassment and abuse of millions of his constituents at the expense of actual law enforcement and public safety. He thumbed his nose at the Department of Justice, the court system and every other legal attempt to get him to cease and desist his unconstitutional racial profiling of citizens and noncitizens alike. He has yet to serve a day in jail or pay any other legal price for his crimes. And he has demonstrated not one ounce of remorse or repentance, or made any amends to the people he terrorized for more than a decade.”
Janet Murguía, UnidosUS President and CEO
On Transgender Military Ban
“The US military represents one of the few ways for low income and disenfranchised people, including trans people and people of color, to gain career skills and financial security both now and in the future. No one should be forced to choose between who they are and being able to keep their career.”
Victoria Rodríguez-Roldán, LGBTQ Task Force, Trans and Gender Non-Conforming Justice Project Director
“Defending our nation’s freedoms on the front lines is one of the highest callings imaginable. The mere idea that President Trump will seek to deny any American the ability to fulfill that calling – simply because of their gender identity – is not only despicable, but also a deeply ironic violation of those very freedoms our military seeks to protect.”
Derrick Johnson, NAACP Interim President & CEO
On Militarized Equipment for Police Departments
“It is both exceptionally dangerous and irresponsible for the Administration to lift the ban on the transfer of certain surplus military equipment to state and local law enforcement organizations. Just a few summers ago, our nation watched as Ferguson raised the specter of increased police militarization. The law enforcement response there and in too many places across the country demonstrated how perilous, especially for Black and Brown communities, a militarized police force can be. The President’s decision to make this change in the wake of the tragedy in Charlottesville and against a backdrop of frayed relations between police and communities of color further reflects this administration’s now open effort to escalate racial tensions in our country. This action puts more fire power in the hands of police departments that remain largely untrained on matters of racial bias and endangers the public. Inviting the use of military weaponry against our domestic population is nothing short of recasting the public as an enemy.”
Janai Nelson, NAACP Legal Defense Fund Associate Director-Counsel
The Democracy Initiative is a dynamic network of organizations working for a responsive, reflective, and inclusive democracy where all Americans participate fully and freely in the democratic process.