Texas Rep. Helen Giddings Denounces Hate, Calls for Moment of Silence in House Chamber

In the House chamber Monday, Texas Rep. Helen Giddings (D-DeSoto) called on the membership to stand with her as she denounced hatred, bigotry and terrorism in the wake of Saturday's deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

"Members, this past weekend, we witnessed a white supremacist hate group infiltrate the town of Charlottesville, Virginia, carrying torches on Friday night, on Saturday they filled the streets with venom, with bigotry and with violence," Giddings said, before mentioning the three lives lost Saturday in the protest.

Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal, was struck and killed by a gray Dodge Challenger allegedly driven by 20-year-old James Alex Fields of Ohio, as she crossed the street.

"She was there with her friends, and she was trying to simply cross the street as the movement was breaking up that day, and she was plowed down by a young man who was intent on spreading hate and thought hate would fix the world," Heyer's mother, Susan Bro, told NBC News. "And hate does not fix the world."

Two Virginia State Troopers were also killed Saturday when their helicopter crashed. The pair had been flying near the site of the protest, keeping an eye on the clash, when they were redirected to escort Gov. Terry McAuliffe's motorcade.

For reasons that are not yet clear, their Bell 407 helicopter fell from the sky and slammed into the ground where it burst into flames. The NTSB said Monday afternoon there was no distress call and the aircraft was not equipped with a flight-data recorder. The investigation into the crash may take 12 to 18 months.

"Our thoughts today go out and our prayers to the family of Heather Heyer, who died marching for justice and equality. We also send our deepest condolences to Virginia State Troopers, H. Jay Cullen and Berke Bates, who died in a helicopter crash while trying to help restore the peace in their state," said Giddings Monday.

Giddings then redirected the conversation back to Texas and where a second alt-right rally has been planned for next month in College Station.

In a statement Monday evening, Texas A&M University said, "After consultation with law enforcement and considerable study, Texas A&M is cancelling the event scheduled by Preston Wiginton at Rudder Plaza on campus on September 11 because of concerns about the safety of its students, faculty, staff, and the public."

Wiginton, a former A&M student, said he'd invited prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer to address the College Station rally. Spencer spoke at an A&M event in December, when he was met by hundreds of protesters, many of whom gathered at Kyle Field football stadium to hear music and speeches highlighting diversity and unity to counter Spencer's appearance.

"I think all of us in the state of Texas want to say, with one voice, Texas will not stand for hate. Our message to the world is clear, Texas will not engage in or tolerate bigotry, hatred and violence. We will continue to call out terrorism, whether that is domestic or foreign. As Americans we cannot fight for freedom abroad and condone terrorism in our streets," Giddings said.

Before yielding the floor Monday, Giddings called for a moment of silence to be held in the chamber for Heyer, Cullen and Bates.

Video of Giddings' speech can be seen at the top of this page.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us