McAuliffe discusses new book on Unite the Right rally reflections
This weekend marks two years since the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., where a group of white nationalists ignited violence and hateful, racist rhetoric. Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe – who was in office during this dark chapter in Virginia history – sits down with Washington Bureau reporter Alana Austin to discuss the impact of that day and the release of his new book.
“It was a heart-breaking day,” reflected McAuliffe.
Since the violent Unite the Right rally, former Democratic Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has written a new book about lessons learned. He’s visiting cities around the nation on a book tour, urging readers to confront racial inequality.
“You got to start doing something. Do it now: quit talking and take action,” said McAuliffe.
In Beyond Charlottesville: Taking a Stand Against White Nationalism, McAuliffe says President Donald Trump is fueling racial tensions with his political stances and rhetoric. McAuliffe – who recently ruled out a 2020 run for President – also argues local officials let the rally get out of control.
Reporter question: “Is there anything at the state level, in retrospect, that could’ve been done differently.”
McAuliffe: “And listen, we looked at that. This is not a book about blame. This is a book about how we deal with the issue and how we move forward.”
McAuliffe honors the lives lost that weekend, including two state troopers – Jay Cullen and Berke Bates – who died in a helicopter crash while protecting the public. McAuliffe – who spent a lot of time with Bates in that helicopter – was devastated.
“Berke Bates who had been on my EPU unit – who was so close to our family, had really been in charge of the kids. It was heart-breaking. It was a very tough day.”
In the book, McAuliffe also writes about how leading up to the plane crash, his phone died as his was in another chopper. When the initial reports came in about the crash, many of his staff members thought he was in the wreckage.
“For about 25 minutes, everybody in the state government, in Richmond, and the chief of staff and my family had thought I had gone down on that helicopter. But I hadn’t – it was Jay and Berke.”
At the same rally, peaceful counter-protester Heather Heyer was murdered, and dozens injured, in a car attack. James Fields Jr., a white nationalist, was recently sentenced to life in prison on hate crime charges for ramming his car into the crowd.
Heyer’s mom, Susan Bro, focuses on the social justice issues her daughter cared about through a foundation.
“When you think of Heather, think about how she did the one small thing that day of walking with her friends and what an impact it had. You don’t know what the results of what you do will be. That’s ok – do it anyway.”
McAuliffe says book proceeds will go to the Heather Heyer Foundation and the Virginia State Police Association.
He also recently agreed to donate a portion of funds to survivors.