By Janet Murguía, President and CEO, NCLR
“People have a right to be angry. We’re angry too. But violence is never the answer.” That is my message to the protesters who engaged in violent acts at a Donald Trump rally in San Jose last week. Due to that troubling incident and Trump’s despicable attack on U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, a lot of misinformation about NCLR—and the Latino community in general—is being pushed out by people who know nothing about my organization. I would like to clear up a few things.
First, NCLR does not condone and has never called for violence in our 50-year history as an American institution. We do believe in the right to engage in civil and nonviolent protest. We, ourselves, at NCLR have marched; we have fasted; we have picketed; and we have boycotted, but always in a dignified manner that is well in line with American values.
In addition, anyone familiar with our history would know that it is a true affront to assert that NCLR has any association with violence. My predecessor, Raul Yzaguirre, served as a volunteer at the March on Washington in 1963 and marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We worked with Cesar Chavez and continue to work with the organization he founded, the United Farm Workers. These civil rights icons and paragons of nonviolent protest have been our guide stars throughout our history.
Finally, NCLR has not called for nor participated in protests at any candidates’ events, including Donald Trump’s. Since the term “La Raza” is a nod to our common heritage, many, many groups share our name, but we are all separate, unaffiliated organizations. We want people to exercise their right and obligation to engage in our nation’s political process. But we want them to engage constructively and effectively.
In short, we want everyone to act, participate, and vote. We urge them to do this in a peaceful manner, however, and with respect for others, especially those with whom they disagree. That is who we are and what we stand for. We hope and expect that others—even our critics—will extend the same courtesy to us as fellow participants in this great democracy.