Local Democrats launch ‘We Are United’ campaign in response to deadly Charlottesville attack

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — San Diego County Democratic officials denounced Tuesday the hatred and violence that led to a woman’s death in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend and announced the launch a campaign dubbed "We Are United’ to ensure the rights of "everyone in all our communities."

At a news conference in Balboa Park, Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, called groups like the KKK and neo-Nazis a "horrible cancer" causing pain and destruction. He said he wants his and other children to be free from racism and discrimination.?

Hueso was joined by Sen. Toni Atkins and local officials like Assemblywoman Shirley Weber and City Council President Myrtle Cole. 

"Today, we have to figure out how do we touch people’s lives and say ‘you know, there’s no reason to hate because of the color of our skin,’" Cole said.

Related Link: White Supremacist groups have foothold in San Diego County

"We extend our deepest condolences to the families of the victims of the tragedy that was the hateful and divisive march in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, especially the family of Heather Heyer, a white woman who died at the hands of a white man who was showing his support of white supremacy," said Jessica Hayes, party chairwoman, in a statement on Monday. "Their logic is as flawed as their morality."

The local Anti-Defamation League is also hosting a meeting Tuesday night for the community to denounce bigotry and hate. Reported hate crimes in San Diego County have increased by 11 percent in the last three years; in the state of California, hate crimes have grown by 12.6 percent.

The meeting will be held at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center in La Jolla at 7 p.m. 

Heyer was killed when, according to authorities in Virginia, a car was driven into a crowd of counter-demonstrators. At least 19 other people were injured.

Related Link: Candlelight vigil held in San Diego after deadly Charlottesville protests

The man accused of driving the vehicle that struck Heyer, 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. of Ohio, was denied bail in his first court appearance on Monday. He was charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of the 32-year-old paralegal.

President Donald Trump called racism "evil" and specifically named the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists in remarks Monday about Saturday’s violence. His remarks came after two days of bipartisan criticism that his initial comments failed to directly condemn white extremists and falsely equated their behavior to protests by the left.

Tony Krvaric, the chairman of the Republican Party of San Diego County, said Monday he agreed with Trump’s latest remarks. "In short, `Violence and racism can never be tolerated,’" he said in an email to City News Service.

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