President Joe Biden will host a cultural summit at the White House next month to address the rise of violence and extremism in the United States and lay out a vision “for a more united America,” officials said Friday.
The United We Stand Summit, which is scheduled for Sept. 15, seeks to “counter the corrosive effects of hate-fueled violence on our democracy and public safety,” the White House said in a statement.
National civil rights advocates have been urging Biden to hold such an event since he took office 19 months ago.
I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide, but to unify.
Who doesn’t see red and blue states, but a United States.
And who will work with all my heart to win the confidence of the whole people.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) November 23, 2020
Following a recent spate of hate-motivated crimes — which included the mass shooting deaths of 19 children at an elementary school in Texas — the president is recommitted to delivering on one of his biggest campaign pledges, to “heal the soul of the nation.”
The summit will follow other deadly mass shooting attacks in recent months — at a July 4 parade near Chicago and a hate-motivated attack at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y.
“As President Biden said in Buffalo after the horrific mass shooting earlier this year, in the battle for the should of our nation ‘we must enlist in this great cause of America,'” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.
“The United We Stand Summit will present an important opportunity for Americans of all races, religions, regions, political affiliations, and walks of life to take up that cause together.”
A variety of groups have been invited to the event to highlight cultural unity. National civil rights and religious leaders, members of the law enforcement community, anti-gun violence advocates and even former members of extremist groups will also attend when Biden delivers a keynote address.
A detailed list of attendees and speakers will be released at a later time.
Administration officials say the event is an opportunity for Democrats and Republicans to unite on an issue that Biden sees as critical to the future of the country.
“Our nation has endured a disturbing series of hate-fueled attacks,” Jean-Pierre added, condemning other recent violence in Oak Creek, Wis., Pittsburgh, El Paso Poway, Calif., and Atlanta.
Jean-Pierre noted Biden´s executive and legislative successes concerning hate crimes, such as the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, the first-ever National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism and the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act — which is considered the most significant gun safety legislation in more than three decades.
The president´s planned summit will follow other recent developments in high-profile cases. This month, three Georgia men who were involved in the killing of Amaud Arbery in 2020 were convicted on federal hate crimes charges. Two were given life sentences and the other 35 years in prison. That´s in addition to their life sentences at the state level.
The White House on Friday also noted the recent five-year anniversary of the hate-motivated killing at the infamous Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017 — an event that Biden said ultimately persuaded him to run for president.
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