HARRISBURG (Aug. 14, 2017) – Pennsylvania Bar Association President Sharon R. López has issued a statement about the actions of hate groups in Charlottesville, Virginia:
“Each of us as Americans is guaranteed freedom of speech and expression. But, each of us also must respect the rule of law and human life."
“As lawyers and good citizens, we cannot prevent the formation of hate groups that seek to divide us on the basis of race and religion. But, what we can do is speak against hatred. We can encourage actions that reduce opportunities for future violence and support the prosecution of those who hurt others and deny others of their civil rights.
“We can turn to our Constitution, which we as lawyers swore to uphold, and to the laws of our land. It reminds us that our forefathers laid the groundwork for a nation of shared values that would unite us, no matter of our religion and race.
“As an organized bar, we condemn the actions of the white supremacists and Ku Klux Klan members who spoke with hate and acted in violence last week in Charlottesville, Virginia. The white supremacists held signs stating "White lives matter," a clear reference to the #BlackLivesMatter movement slogan. #BlackLivesMatter does not mean other lives don't matter but is a plea for equality and fairness for all, including our black brothers and sisters. It's a message that the color of your skin should not move you to fear, hate or violence, which is a value we still are striving for both as lawyers and citizens of our republic.
“We long for the day when we no longer need the political slogan #BlackLivesMatter. Today is not that day. We can no longer be surprised by public unhooded organized groups engaging in acts of violence. Today, we must recognize they are here. They are organized, and we must oppose them in a united and clear manner.
“In the face of hatred, silence is not acceptable. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said it best, ‘In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.’
“Therefore, as the state’s largest association of lawyers, we denounce the white supremacists and their message of hate and violence. We publicly state that everyone has a role in maintaining a civilized society with respect for all.”
Founded in 1895, the Pennsylvania Bar Association exists to promote justice, professional excellence and respect of the law; improve public understanding of the legal system; facilitate access to legal services; and serve the 26,000 lawyers who are members of the association.