State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143) issued a strong condemnation of groups expressing hateful and racist beliefs which led to violence in Virginia, including Neo-Nazis and any organization advocating white supremacy or racially-motivated violence during remarks at an interfaith event hosted by the Wilton Clergy Association at Our Lady of Fatima church on Wednesday.

The event, “Wilton Clergy Association's Standing Together, Standing Strong: An Interfaith Gathering,” was organized as an opportunity for the community to gather and address the events in Charlottesville “in a positive way.”

Lavielle spoke on the need for the local community to stand solidly in support of those targeted by racist rhetoric and be “unequivocal” in denouncing Neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups, firmly rejecting the idea that those beliefs should be tolerated in Connecticut or anywhere in the country.

The following are Lavielle’s remarks at the Wednesday night event:

When members of our community are not only horrified, but frightened by events, whether they be close to home or far away, it is important for them to know that their community is behind them and with them. So I’d like to thank the Wilton Interfaith Clergy for inviting our community to gather following the alarming and revolting events in Charlottesville.

When I was growing up, we were taught that Nazism was the name of a brutal and terrible force that my father and others of his generation fought in the Second World War. We were also taught that it must never be condoned or tolerated in this country. It was very clear that it was our responsibility as Americans to ensure that it never arose in our midst.

Yet there it was, as Nazis and white supremacists marched in Charlottesville. And even worse, they brought violence with them, through both words and deeds. There is only one way to feel about it: it was alarming, and revolting.

As an elected representative, but more important, as a human being, I abhor that violence. And I condemn those acts of hate that have hurt and frightened innocent people. There are absolutely no circumstances when it is acceptable to tolerate or lend any credence to Nazis, white supremacists, or any other racist or bigoted group. Any equivocation or ambiguity on this score is unacceptable, and my stance is firm and clear against all that they represent.

There is no place for Nazis or white supremacists anywhere, in our country, in Connecticut, or in Wilton. We must stand together as a community in making clear that racism and bigotry are not accepted here. Our gathering this evening is a reminder that Wilton is a town that warmly welcomes and respects all people, accepts and values differences, which enrich our community, and does not tolerate racism, terror, or violence directed at anyone at any time.

This is an issue that transcends political, religious, and philosophical views. It is a question of basic humanity. No one in our community must live in fear or apprehension of bigotry or racism, and we must stand together in that purpose. In this, there is nothing to divide us. On the contrary, I hope that this common purpose will bring us all together in ever stronger and steadfast unity.

State Representative Gail Lavielle represents the 143rd district, which includes parts of Norwalk, Westport, and Wilton. She is the Ranking Member of the General Assembly’s Education Committee and a member of the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee and the Transportation Committee.