Tesei on Charlottesville: Greenwich Republican Officials Abhor and Detest Behavior of White Supremacists and Nazis

On his Friday Aug 18 morning radio program “Ask the First Selectman” on WGCH 1490 Peter Tesei weighed in on the events in Charlottesville, VA last weekend, telling a caller, “I and other Republican officials in town stand united with people in Charlottesville and abhor and detest the behavior of white supremacists and Nazis.”

The caller said she’d read letters to the editor about the events in Charlottesville on Saturday, Aug 12, when Neo-Nazis and white supremacists rallied and had violent clashes with counter protesters. One protester Heather Heyer was killed when a car driven by a 20-year-old white supremacist plowed into a crowd.

“I wanted to ask you your feelings on Virginia because I’ve been reading letters to the editor, especially this morning, and a lot of Democrats are coming forward,” said the caller who identified herself as Dawn Fortunato, who is a member of the RTM in District 3.  “We haven’t heard anything from the Republican side and how they feel.”

In addition to condemning white supremacists and Nazis, Tesei pointed out multiple efforts in Greenwich against racism and prejudice, including the recent Diversity Training for town hall, Board of Education and local non-profits leaders.

“We work with the ADL on matters including the Names Day program at the high school and we have a committee on community diversity,” Tesei said. “So I think we have a fairly sound and stellar view as to tolerance and inclusion and it’s unfortunate that some in the media have  chosen to isolate and not be inclusive of Republicans’ points of view.”

diversity training, Peter Tesei - Greenwich Free Press

Peter Tesei in a “pair share” during the diversity training workshop at Town Hall, Oct. 28, 2016 Credit: Leslie Yager

Commenting on Sunday evening’s vigil organized by Indivisible Greenwich where speakers included Joanna Swomley and US Senator Richard Blumenthal, Tesei said he was not “directly invited.”

“I think we have a fairly sound and stellar view as to tolerance and inclusion and it’s unfortunate that some in the media have  chosen to isolate and not be inclusive of Republicans’ points of view,” he said. “That particular event was done in a very makeshift way that did not include, directly include, Republicans to attend.”

Last Sunday at 6:00pm about 100 people gathered outside town hall.

Joanna Swomley, founder of Indivisible Greenwich and US Senator Blumenthal delivered remarks.

A crowd of about 100 gathered at Greenwich Town Hall on Sunday Aug 18, the day after violent clashes in Charlottesville, VA involving Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists versus counter protestors. Photo: Leslie Yager

A crowd of about 100 gathered at Greenwich Town Hall on Sunday Aug 18, the day after violent clashes in Charlottesville, VA involving Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists versus counter protestors. Photo: Leslie Yager

US Senator Blumenthal address a crowd of about 100 at Greenwich Town Hall on Sunday evening. Aug 13, 2017 Credit: Leslie Yager

After violence erupted in Charlottesvilla on Saturday, US Senator Blumenthal addressed a crowd of about 100 at Greenwich Town Hall on Sunday evening. Aug 13, 2017 Credit: Leslie Yager

Senator Blumenthal said that for many who lived through the civil rights movement, the images of torches at night in Charlotesville brought back images many thought were a thing of the past. “Someone said that the only difference between the march yesterday and many demonstrations of the Ku Klux Klan was that they weren’t wearing hoods,” he said. “In the face of hatred and evil, silence is not gold. Ambiguity is abhorrent.”

“It’s over, in terms of what they did and how they did it,” Tesei said during his radio show on Friday, Aug 18, referring to the vigil organized by Indivisible Greenwich.

“But the seriousness of what transpired in Charlottesville remains, and we need to stand united against hatred, intolerance and bigotry, and again  recognize Greenwich is a leader in opposing that kind of behavior,” Tesei continued.

The caller suggested Tesei write a letter to the editor or issue a public statement.

Tesei said he appreciated that suggestion, but, he said, “Consider the source, Ms. Swomley is now partisan because her husband is running for First Selectman. So, now there’s no longer that sense it’s a non partisan group. It’s taken on a partisan nature.”

“I appreciate your opportunity to help us get the point out,” Tesei said to Fortunato.

At the Words Still Matter event at the YWCA of Greenwich, First Selectman Peter Tesei spoke about the importance of a standard of civil discourse. Photo: Leslie Yager

See also:

A Lesson in Humanity: Diversity Training at Town Hall Packs the House with “Agents of Change”  

Poignant Remarks Delivered at YWCA Greenwich Words Still Matter Event

Blumenthal: Only Difference between Charlottesville and KKK Demonstrations was They Weren’t Wearing Hoods


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  • realsaramerica

    “I and other Republican officials in town stand united with people in
    Charlottesville and abhor and detest the behavior of white supremacists
    and Nazis.” Let’s be clear about what just happened here. Peter Tesei is attempting to provide political cover for all of the Republicans in town who have remained silent in the face of Nazis marching past a synagogue with Jewish people celebrating the Sabbath shouting “Sieg Heil”http://reformjudaism.org/blog/2017/08/14/charlottesville-local-jewish-community-presses . I appreciate your past efforts with the ADL, Peter, but that just shows we already have a problem in Greenwich, and if you can’t bring yourself and your colleagues to speak out loud and clear when a wannabe Nuremberg rally happens in America because you are engaging in “both sideism” like the president, then you are part of the problem just as much as he is. About a year ago, I pointed out to Fred Camillo that a Facebook friend of his from Old Greenwich was posting stuff from a Nazi conspiracy site that the Jews financed Hitler. Never mind that history shows that the Dulles brothers actually WERE in involved in financing the Nazis – not to mention helping many of those involved with genocide escape through the Rat Lines after the war – but Fred’s response to me was “Oh she’s really a nice woman.” That’s the problem. People who are really “NICE” don’t spread anti-Semitic hate. And other people who are really “NICE” don’t let them. They call them out on it. And other people who are really “NICE”, people who show courageous leadership, don’t provide cover for those who refuse to do so.

    So while I thank you for your past efforts, Peter, your leadership on this is a complete and utter failure. More than that, it is disgraceful.

    You and your colleagues have also failed to respond to the reprehensible behavior of JR Romano, CT GOP chair. I would love to have your comments on his both siderism, and his appearance in “Whiskey Patriots” with a guy who is spreading Alex Jones like conspiracy theories that Charlottesville was just actors: http://www.dailyructions.com/j-r-romano-and-a-charlottesville-doubter-republican-chairman-damages-party-with-dubious-video-partners/ Alex Jones went even further of course, saying that they were Jewish actors, but the fact that Romano is “pallin around” with this guy is extremely disturbing to say the least. From my off the record conversations with Romano when I asked him to speak out against hate speech several times in the last two years, I am not entirely surprised.

    My father was a life long Republican, who served on Stamford Board of Reps, held a fundraiser for Bush 41 at our home in Stamford. I was a Republican when I first registered to vote.I thank both of them for speaking out, and Mitt Romney strong. I wish more decent Republicans would. Years of celebrating anti-intellectualism and kowtowing to the Religious Right have brought you to this place. And you have chosen to provide cover for it and try to make it about internal town politics because of some prick to your ego instead of taking the courageous path.