We want America to be fair, just, and free: A letter from our executive director

Credit: Tim Hindes

Dear ACLU supporter,

We live in truly troubled times. Like you, our hearts were broken when we heard the news that the congregations at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue were targeted by a person whose alleged sole intent was to kill Jewish people. Eleven people died while peacefully worshipping as they chose, a freedom that is guaranteed to all of us as Americans.

All mass shootings are tragic. This one struck especially close to home, as many ACLU-PA staff, volunteers, and supporters live and worship in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood, including some at Tree of Life, New Light, and Dor Hadash Congregations. From all of us at the ACLU of Pennsylvania, our hearts are with everyone touched by this tragedy.

I am reminded — again — of the urgency of the work that we do as advocates for civil rights, now more than ever. Whether people in a community are targeted for hate crimes by private citizens or face discrimination from their own government, we know that we cannot let up. We will take time to mourn, to breathe, and to care for ourselves and others. And then we will double down on working to create the kind of country that we want.

Anti-Semitism has no place in our America. In our America, diversity is a strength — our diversity in culture, in race and ethnicity, in sexual orientation and gender identity, and in religious practice makes our country better.

America’s past, both recent and removed, is littered with tales of discrimination and violence toward people based simply on their identity. But our past does not write our future. It must not. Our future is determined by what we do, together, in this present moment.

Together, we mourn the tragic and unnecessary loss of life in Pittsburgh this weekend. And then the work starts anew, also together, to create an America that is fair, just, and free for all.

In liberty,
Reggie Shuford
Executive Director, ACLU of Pennsylvania

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