President Donald Trump condemned on Monday white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK, two days after the Charlottesville incidents this weekend. The declarations came after an intense backlash from both republicans and democrats, who criticized Trump for not specifically calling out on white supremacists for the events this past weekend.
On Saturday, violence spread throughout Charlottesville, Virginia, after a right-wing rally called “Unite the Right” was met by counter-protesters. The bloody events that took place afterward left three people dead.
Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old woman, was killed after a car plowed into a crowd of counter-protesters. The man who ran over the crowd, 20-year-old James Alex Fields, was charged Monday with five felony counts, including murder. Fields, a known white supremacist, also injured at least 19 injured.
Trump calls KKK, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists ‘repugnant’
On Saturday, President Trump blamed the violence “on many sides.” He didn’t mention anything again about Charlottesville until today at a last-minute scheduled event at the White House.
“Racism is evil – and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans,” said Trump. “Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America.”
CNN reports his remarks came a little too late, as he remained silent for two days after the tragic events in Charlottesville.
“This acknowledgment does not even begin to make up for President Trump’s years of riling up white nationalists,” Farhana Khera, the Executive Director of Muslim Advocates, a national legal advocacy, and organization, told CNN. “What speaks louder than his words are the deaths and the universal nationwide condemnation it took to get these crumbs of acknowledgment.”
The President also failed to condemn the explosion at a mosque outside Minneapolis last week, an incident that was described as “an act of terrorism” by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton. A CNN reporter asked Trump why he didn’t condemn the hate groups sooner, and he said: “They have been condemned.”
Fields is charged with murder and four other counts
Fields plowed his Dodge Challenger into a crowd and killed Heather Heyer with his actions. Two Virginia State Patrol Troopers were also killed in a helicopter crash while assisting public safety resources with the ongoing situation in Charlottesville. A pilot named Jay Cullen and Trooper Berke Bates died in the crash.
Along with the one death and 19 injuries from the car accident, city officials said there were at least 15 other injured people associated with the planned rally. The rally was organized by white nationalists and right-wing activists from all over the country, who called to protest because of Charlottesville officials’ decision to remove a statue of a Confederate general.
Fields lived in Maumee, Ohio, but traveled to the rally to support the alt-right rally. His mother, Samantha Bloom, told the Toledo Blade that he told her last week he was attending an “alt-right” rally, but she didn’t like to get involved in his political views.
The suspect had his arraignment today and was charged with five felony counts. During his hearing, he indicated he’s unable to hire a lawyer, as his income was $650 every two weeks from his job at a security company.
Judge Robert Downer assigned Fields a local attorney, Charles Weber. The judge noted he had to rule out the public defender’s office because a relative of someone working there had been involved in the protests.
Father of ‘Unite the Right’ protester condemns his son’s beliefs
Several attendants of the “Unite the Right” rally on Saturday have been identified. Twitter account “You’re A Racist,” took the social media to post pictures of the rally and asked people to identify the protesters.
As of now, one protester is no longer employed after being publicly named, NPR reports. Cole White, who worked at a hot dog restaurant in Berkeley, California, reportedly “voluntarily resigned” on Saturday after his employer asked him about his participation in the rally. Other demonstrators have also been identified –and shamed– but some have been mistaken for other people, or for attending other alt-right events.
Business Insider reports that the father of a North Dakota demonstrator who marched in the white nationalist event this weekend denounced his son’s behavior and said he was not “welcome at our family gatherings any longer.”
“I, along with all of his siblings and his entire family, wish to loudly repudiate my son’s vile, hateful and racist rhetoric and actions,” Pearce Tefft, father of Peter Tefft, wrote in a letter to The Forum. “We do not know specifically where he learned these beliefs. He did not learn them at home.”
Tefft had been identified as well by the “You’re A Racist” Twitter account.