66 lawyers to Trump: tell KKK to kiss your ass

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Despite the fact that President Donald J Trump said that “racism is evil,” and despite having condemned all white supremacist and hate groups involved in the Charlottesville, Virginia rally that turned deadly earlier this month, 66 former state attorneys general joined forces to send the president a letter, asking him to “respond directly to the voice of hate.”

After the violent clashes between white supremacists and other activist groups in that left one girl dead and another 20 people wounded, President Donald J Trump condemned hate groups during a press briefing held later that Saturday afternoon, and then again on the Tuesday following the event.  The president said: “Racism is evil, and those that cause violence in its name are criminals and dogs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups, that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”

In a letter obtained by BuzzFeed, the group of attorneys general made no reference to the president’s comments but instead highlighted a message sent by former Alabama Attorney General Bill Baxley.

In 1976, the KKK’s leader, Edward Fields, wrote Baxley a threatening letter. Baxley, who was at the time working to prosecute white supremacist leaders in connection to a church bombing in which four young black Birmingham girls were killed, had a stellar response for Fields. “My response to your letter of February 19, 1976, is — kiss my ass,” Baxley wrote, the single line being his only response to the leader of the hate group.

The 66 attorneys general held up Baxley’s response as an example of the correct response to such groups, in their opinions. They wrote:

“There are times in the life of a nation, or a president, or a state attorney general when one is called upon to respond directly to the voice of hate.

“As former state attorneys general, we take the liberty of reminding Americans — as we remind ourselves — that events can call out the worst in us — and the best.”

The letter states that in 1971, Baxley was twenty-nine years old. As attorney general of Alabama, he “began his quest to bring justice to the perpetrators of the Birmingham church bombing” in 1963. They say the crime was “rooted in hate,” which gave rise to the voices of those who were the “leaders of hate.”

In reopening the 1963 case, they say Baxley faced political backlash, lack of cooperation from government agencies, and “constant threats of physical violence and death.”

“But he persisted,” they wrote, using the phrase adopted by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is making a fortune in merchandising with the line. Baxley did persist, and in 1977, he prosecuted and convicted Robert Chambliss in connection with the bombing.

“We commend his response to the attention of all who seek to equivocate in times of moral crisis,” the former attorneys general wrote as an end to their their Monday statement, after referencing Baxley’s response to Fields.

The letter was led by James Tierney, the former Democratic attorney general of Maine, but the effort was bilateral, receiving signatures from both Republican and Democratic former attorneys general. Their names are listed here:

  • Robert Abrams, New York
  • Ronald Amemiya, Hawaii
  • Jeff Amestoy, Vermont
  • Bruce Babbitt, Arizona
  • Thurbert Baker, Georgia
  • Paul Bardacke, New Mexico
  • Steve Beshear, Kentucky
  • Bruce Botelho, Alaska
  • Margery Bronster, Hawaii
  • Charlie Brown, West Virginia
  • Richard Bryan, Nevada
  • Charles Burson, Tennessee
  • Bonnie Campbell, Iowa
  • Steve Clark, Arkansas
  • Walter Cohen, Pennsylvania
  • Robert Cooper, Tennessee
  • J. Joseph Curran, Jr., Maryland
  • Fred Cowan, Kentucky
  • Frankie Sue Del Papa, Nevada
  • Jerry Diamond, Vermont
  • Richard Doran, Florida
  • John Easton, Vermont
  • Rufus Edmisten, North Carolina
  • Drew Edmondson, Oklahoma
  • Tyrone Fahner, Illinois
  • Lee Fisher, Ohio
  • Karen Freeman-Wilson, Indiana
  • Terry Goddard, Arizona
  • Chris Gorman, Kentucky
  • Slade Gorton, Washington
  • Jennifer Granholm, Michigan
  • Scott Harshbarger, Massachusetts
  • Peter Harvey, New Jersey
  • Hubert H . Humphrey III, Minnesota
  • Drew Ketterer, Maine
  • Oliver Koppell, New York
  • Peg Lautenschlager, Wisconsin
  • Joseph Lieberman, Connecticut
  • Michael Lilly, Hawaii
  • Alicia Limtiaco, Guam
  • Bill Lockyer, California
  • David Louie, Hawaii
  • Robert Marks, Hawaii
  • Brian McKay, Nevada
  • Jeff Modisett, Indiana
  • Betty Montgomery, Ohio
  • Mike Moore, Mississippi
  • Jeffrey Pine, Rhode Island
  • Warren Price III, Hawaii
  • Hector Richard, Puerto Rico
  • Clarine Nardi Riddle, Connecticut
  • Dennis Roberts, Rhode Island
  • Stephen Rosenthal, Virginia
  • Stephen Sachs, Maryland
  • James Shannon, Massachusetts
  • Mark Shurtleff, Utah
  • William Sorrell, Vermont
  • Rbert Spagnoletti, District of Columbia
  • Robert Stephan, Kansas
  • Mary Sue Terry, Virginia
  • James Tierney, Maine
  • Anthony F. Troy, Virginia
  • Jim Guy Tucker, Arkansas
  • Paul Van Dam, Utah
  • Bob Wefald, North Dakota
  • Grant Woods, Arizona

President Trump has repeatedly said he does not support hatred and violence, and he repeated the words last night prior to launching into a speech about the war in Afghanistan.

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