From the Edmonds Mayor: Charlottesville and beyond

Dave Earling

I seldom comment on national issues, but the wrong in Charlottesville and the resulting failure of leadership and national outcry this past weekend points out wrongs on so many levels.

Call them white supremacists, neo-Nazis, neo-nationalists, KKK or whatever; a large, well- organized group was in Charlottesville this past Saturday to deliver their message of hate, division and separation. The results caused riot and mayhem in that city, which then spread across the United States. And we once again have the tragic death of a U.S. citizen — Heather Heyer.

The scene in Charlottesville and resulting chaos across the country is all too reminiscent of the 1960s, when the same violence, hate, division and separation existed. We asked ourselves then, and should once again ask ourselves, to find the morality we expect of ourselves.

Let’s be clear: The incident in Charlottesville was at its root an example of bigotry and racism, and the death of Heather Heyer probably constitutes a hate crime. And let’s be equally clear: The underlying cause of the tragedy is the attempted resurgence of white supremacists.

Just as painful to watch was the lack of leadership at the top of our government by not being clear that what we all saw and experienced in Charlottesville is wrong.

Playing to your base is one thing, but not clearly defining what the nation saw in Charlottesville is, again, simply wrong. The pain of watching competing forces in the White House develop mixed messages causes dysfunction in our country and the international community. And it continues to puzzle us all.

I believe the United States is fundamentally a moral nation. It is time to once again reassert that morality. To continue adrift is not who we are.

— By Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling


  1. Thank you Mr. Mayor for saying so. I hope this encourages you to take seriously the multiple incidents of hate based vandalism at our schools and on our streets. We cannot ignore examples of hate in our own backyard.

  2. Thank you Mr. Mayor for speaking out. The lack of quick acknowledgment of these hate groups by our leadership is appalling. Through education and outreach the Diversity Commission is working hard to ensure this doesn’t happen in our community. Ed Dorame/Co-chair Diversity Commission.

  3. Nice of you to jump in Mayor but you left out a huge part of the picture, the fascist left, Antifa group that started the violence and was predicated by the local leadership that had the police stand down and actually had the two evil groups merge as part of the ‘disbursement’ of the protest. Perhaps the Mayor of Charlottesville thought it best to encourage a riot and blame only one side for the violence? Clearly the racial hatred on both sides need to be expunged but far too often there’s silence on the part of the violence by the so-called anti-fascist group, Antifa when in fact they’re fascist as they’ve been wreaking havoc from city to city and from campus to campuses across the country. So Mayor, while you’re at it on your soap box, it would be a good time to be consistent in your message and not selective which seems to be the norm.

    • Two quotes from an article I believe clearly defines the difference in Anti-fascist and the Nazi-fascist objectives.

      “Unlike the various supremacist movements that treat violence as valid political expression, antifa treat violence as a defensive tactic against an opposing movement that leverages violence. For antifascists, violence is self-defense, because the far-right movements constitute direct threats to their existence and safety, as well as the existence and safety of their communities.”

      “The position that antifascist use of violent confrontational tactics is equivalent to the violence of the far-right reflects a lack of understanding of both fascist violence and the threat faced by antifa, and by diverse communities in general. Whereas supremacist movements treat violence as their ultimate goal, antifa approach it as a necessary tactic in self-defense. This position of self-defense is the product of the very real threat the white supremacists pose to antifascists and numerous other groups. Antifa come to understand that threat because their personal identities, as well as their political activism, are targeted by fascist violence. And they are more likely to actually face that violence than the average individual. By understanding the sense of threat observed by antifa, we can gain a greater context for their actions.”

      • So by ‘self defense’ you attack first? Huh? Antifa, the anti-fascist ‘fascist’ organization is somehow trying to protect themselves from the ‘real’ fascists? It makes no sense because their tactics are themselves fascist in nature as well as the white nationalists or whatever else was protesting in Charlottesville and are just as wrong and evil. If we’re to truly follow the line of ‘self defense’ then it was the white nationalists that acted in self defense; it’s no excuse but from reports, it’s what did occur. As for the far-left Antifa’s actions up till now, they’ve been actively fighting free speech by those they disagree; with violence, destruction, shouting down, etc. That’s not self defense, that’s violence first no matter the cost as long as it silences viewpoints that they disagree with; it’s what makes up Antifa as well as the white nationalists. They’re both filled with hate and from all accounts, anti-Semitic in nature and have no business in civil society. Splitting hairs over anti- or nazi- fascist ideology is an effort in futility since they’re both after the same thing, the end of the other by any means possible and a seeming desire to be in lock step with each other on opposite ends of the spectrum. Neither one is acceptable and it’s dangerous for anyone to be caught in the middle.

      • Yeah, so what? The outrage should be focused on both as they both see destruction of the other and neither side is one to be on as it would mean that one would be choosing sides of a deadly but losing cause.

        I’m not siding with either side, they’re both evil, one isn’t ‘ok’ just because they don’t have as much history, they both want to see the demise of the other and unfortunately that will extend to the innocents in the middle, those that want to protect life and liberty of all Americans. The leftists of Antifa, are fascists, i.e. Nazis only they don’t want to refer to themselves as such and yet you know them by their actions. Like it or not, the white supremacists had a permit, Antifa did not and yet they were the ones with spiked clubs, bricks, liquid filled balloons, etc. The police should have separated the groups from the outset and yet were told to stand down and the violence spread unnecessarily. The mayor has a lot to answer for allowing this to occur. Blaming one side over the other when there’s plenty of blame to go around does not absolve the side that isn’t getting as much press, that being Antifa. All should be held to account, we can’t be cherry picking. That’s where your outrage ought to be focused to bring about justice.

        What really happened:

        Lets remember our history and learn from it; not forget it or erase it.

        • Seems you and the President subscribe to the same news sources. Thank you for sharing, it is some valuable insight.

  4. “Defining what we just saw” is a critical role of government. It prevents mob mentality and action, sustains our founding ideals and values, and brings order to chaos. Thank you, Mr. Mayor, for doing precisely that. It’s what defines great leaders.

  5. Couldn’t agree more with Ed Stephen’s comments. The fact that the mayor and the MSM seem to think that the Antifa thugs are blameless is staggering. New leadership is needed in Edmonds.

    • My thoughts exactly Jeff Gray, Ed Stephens comments speak for me and obviously many others who are capable of seeing both sides of this nasty coin.

  6. Just stop it all!!

    Mr. Mayor, you should be coming out with a stance that none of this vile behavior will be tolerated (regardless of how groups are labeled by the media) and your police force has been instructed to do what is required according the expertise they have learned and been provided by our tax dollars.

    What is your plan? Is our police force to stand-down and let people beat each other senseless as long as life is not threatened. What is the direction you’ve given to our police department?

    You taking sides does nothing to unite our great city. Those of us that are truly concerned this type of violence could occur in our great city need to knw what plans do you have in place.

    The diversity council is proposing changing and or co-mingling Columbus day with Indigenous Peoples day is inviting this type of mayhem to our city.

    Please stop with the massaging of potential voters and provide details!! By you bloviating without specific details, is the same lack of leadership from the top you are bloviating against.

    I voted for you and whish nothing but success, but please stop treating us as children.

    • Thank you Ed Stephens for your commentary; yes we are being “set up” by our mayor and diversity commission. Have an Indigenous Peoples Day if you wish, but not on the same day as Columbus Day. Our mayor even saying he “hardly comments” on political national matters is a false statement. Why does he not take care of the city government and stop grandstanding to things he really knows nothing about, but only has an opinion, nor does he care to see “both sides” of this racially charged issue.

  7. There are a couple false statements that have been made about Charlottesville and the anti-facism movement in general that I feel need to be addressed. First of all the oft repeated claim that the counter protesters did not have needed permits is not true:
    Secondly, labeling antifa as “fascist” is showing a misunderstanding of the meaning of the word. “Fascism is a form of government which is a type of one-party dictatorship. Fascists are against democracy. They work for a totalitarian one-party state. … The two first fascist leaders were Mussolini and Hitler.” The antifa are pro-democracy and not advocates of totalitarianism, Mussolini or Hitler. Whether or not you agree with their tactics repeating or using false accusations is misleading and does not help your cause. Words can have consequences, as Charlottesville has shown us. In the current environment it is important to take care to not spread a false and hurtful narrative.

    • Thank you Denise. I think we all agree that violence is to be deplored, and that both sides resorted to violence. But I think we must also remain very clear that only one side turned up in battle fatigues carrying guns and torches, shouting anti-semitic slogans. Only one side represents a direct attack on diversity and democracy. Yes, the “alt-left” have a strong tendency to censor or attack opposing opinions, and that is something we need to reign in. But at the end of the day, insisting that both sides are equally guilty is to ignore the fact that one side marches through our streets with nazi flags and intimidates opposition with storm-trooper tactics. The far left got violent – but we must ask ourselves which side is the greater threat to everything this country stands for.

    • I read that article in the Washington Post a few days ago and what I read was a lot of equivocation regarding permits. Yes, the counter-protesters had a permit for public demonstration in other parks AWAY from where the white-nationalists groups were demonstrating. Then, to explain why the counter-protesters were in other park, the response was “people do not need a permit to enter a public park.” What, which is it? Either way, it does not excuse the violence that ensued nor Mr. Trump’s ignorant responses.

    • Denise, I found this article from The Atlantic that I think does a good job of explaining that we need not agree with or condone the tactics used by ‘antifa” to understand that there is no comparison between their motives and tactics with those of the white supremacists and nazi”s.

  8. My name is David Freeman. I do not hide my identity and can easily be found on Facebook and I suppose tracked down.
    I am totally committed to nonviolence but I am also committed to truth as best I see it.
    From carefully reading the comments, it is clear that none are based on first hand experience in Charlottesville. I was there. I stood with clergy on the steps to Emancipation Park.
    I can only report on what I saw. I saw no AntiFa with nails in clubs. Most Nazi and KKK were not heavily armed like the militia but many did display pistols and were far more prepared for a fight than most AntiFa and other counter-protestors mingled in with them. I did not see AntiFa initiate a fight but they definitely fought back. Yes, both sides yelled at each other but the racist and homophobic slurs came from one side only. Is it a slur to call someone a Nazi if they carry a shield with White Supremacist symbols and a helmet decorated with a swastika? AntiFa and my group of clergy had medics with us. They treated injured counter-protestors and Nazis alike. Perhaps I just didn’t see Nazi medics doing the same. When our small band of clergy were about to be attacked a second time AntiFa rushed to our defense. I believe they saved at least a few lives in my group from an overwhelming force shouting their desire to “f–k us bad”.
    I remain committed to non-violence and I will continue to disagree on tactics but I respect the AntiFa I saw in Charlottesville and thank them for my life.
    There is NO equivalence between White Supremacists and AntiFa. None!

    • Thank you, David. This is a very insightful first-hand perspective. I am grateful that so many like you are willing to peacefully resist and stand up to the hate and rage-filled White Supremacists, especially since you do so at great personal risk. From this account and many others, I now have a broader perspective on the role being played by the AntiFa. Peace be with you.

  9. David’s ‘take’ on Charlottesville is interesting considering the vast reports to the contrary about the violence by groups that included Antifa, BLM & white nationalists that for the most part placed the instigation and overwhelming violence coming from the leftists of Antifa. All parties in this espouse antisemitism, there’s racism on both sides too; one wants an Aryan nation, whereas Antifa, the fascist ‘anti-fascist’ organization, does not seek ‘democracy per se’, they seek total and unequivocal silence of any and all views that don’t agree with their narrow-mindedness and an end to freedom of speech through violence, destruction, intimidation, etc. All one has to do is see their actions in cities and on campuses denying those of opposing viewpoints. It is inherently fascist; any dictionary will state similar definitions of fascism which Antifa displays in their behavior “severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition”. Face it, they’re all bad players in this despicable culture war meant to divide America and now escalating foolishly to tear down our history. No one is perfect and yet we’re always told by the left, ‘don’t judge’ and yet they’re judging historical figures to the nth degree by acting hysterically, irrationally and irresponsibly with their demand to tear down any representation to our historical founding. If cooler heads don’t prevail to stem this ISIS like madness of removing and revising our history, our nation will end up like some third world basket-case. All players in this culture war need to be denounced as there’s no winners, only losers and because of it, America and American’s lose the most.

    For those interested in what really happened in Charlottesville, more people need to take a closer look at the gasoline that was thrown on this fire by city leaders that led to unnecessary violence.
    Charlottesville Police Come Forward: We Were Told to “STAND DOWN” to Ignite Race War
    Police: Charlottesville Was ‘Inside Job’ To Ignite Race War

  10. I loved the part when Mayor Dave Earling didn’t condemn the Berni Sanders Supporter who shot up the GOP baseball game.. because it wouldn’t be relevant for the mayor to do so. Who’s asking the mayor to write this stuff? Can Mayor Earling please weigh in on Harvey Weinstein, how Hollywood treats women, or how Bill Clinton treats women? Why is my Edmonds News providing platform to things that aren’t Edmonds news?


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