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Nesselbush introduces Senate resolution denouncing white nationalism and neo-Nazi groups in Rhode Island



Rhode Island State Senator Donna Nesselbush (Democrat, District 15, Pawtucket) has introduced a resolution (S0829) that denounces and opposes white nationalism and neo-Nazi groups in Rhode Island. The resolution is co-sponsored by Senators Samuel Bell (Democrat, District 5, Providence), Joshua Miller (Democrat, District 28, Cranston), Gayle Goldin (Democrat, District 3, Providence) and Ana Quezada (Democrat, District 2, Providence).

“I represent a large number of people of color, and tragically, we are witnessing a resurgence of hateful ideas and actions fueled by a vile and disturbing ideology of white supremacy,” said Nesselbush. “I cannot stand by and do nothing. Hate crimes and attempts to turn back the clock on decades of racial progress are unacceptable. It is imperative to officially denounce and oppose these hate groups in our state and country. This resolution seeks to send a strong message that white supremacy has no place in Rhode Island.”

The resolution states that the Rhode Island Senate and the State of Rhode Island strongly denounces and opposes the totalitarian impulses, violent terrorism, xenophobic biases, and bigoted ideologies that are promoted by white nationalists and neo-Nazis.

Though the resolution cites the attacks in Charlottesville, Virginia; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and in Poway, California to confirm that white nationalism and neo-Nazism are threats to social and racial progress, the resolution fails to mention the violence that took place in Rhode Island when white nationalist groups twice held rallies at the Rhode Island State House. See:

Currently, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, two hate groups, American Guard and Vanguard America, are operating here in Rhode Island.

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The resolution is currently before the Senate Committee on Judiciary and no hearing has been scheduled as of this writing.

The resolution:

WHEREAS, White nationalist groups espouse an ideology of white supremacy and the “alleged” inferiority of non-whites. They believe that white identity should be a paramount principle in the governing of western nations and they support non-democratic means to bring this evil philosophy to the forefront; and

WHEREAS, The shocking and appalling events that took place on August 12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia, on October 27, 2018, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and on April 27, 2019, in Poway, California, confirm that white nationalism and neo-Nazism remain very real threats to social and racial progress; and

WHEREAS, Throughout the course of our nation’s history, white nationalism has supported and promoted coercion and violent repression of individuals solely on the basis of their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and immigration status; and

WHEREAS, Today, white nationalism has attempted to reinvent itself, self-identifying as the “alt-right,” yet their present-day rhetoric and terrorism conjure painful memories of our nation’s past; and

WHEREAS, Today, white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups often promote agendas that are in irreconcilable conflict with many of our nation’s foundational principles of liberty and justice for all; and

WHEREAS, White nationalism and neo-Nazism are continuing to grow as menaces to societal order that seek to reignite social animosities, reverse improvements in race relations, divide the nation, and foment hatred that leads to ethnic eradication; and

WHEREAS, The white nationalists and neo-Nazi message of racial, ethnic, and social intolerance has led to senseless acts of violence that continue to terrorize members of racial and religious minority communities; and

WHEREAS, Rhode Island was founded by Roger Williams on the principle of religious tolerance; and

WHEREAS, Rhode Island is the home to America’s oldest synagogue, the Touro Synagogue, in Newport; now therefore be it

RESOLVED, That this Senate of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations hereby strongly denounces and opposes the totalitarian impulses, violent terrorism, xenophobic biases, and bigoted ideologies that are promoted by white nationalists and neo-Nazis; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the Secretary of State be and hereby is authorized and directed to transmit duly certified copies of this resolution to the Honorable Donald J. Trump, President of the United States, the members of the Rhode Island Congressional delegation, and the Honorable Gina M. Raimondo, Governor of the State of Rhode Island.

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Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.