Friday 23 February 2018

Donald Trump wades into race row by claiming 'both sides to blame for Charlottesville violence'

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers a statement on the deadly protests in Charlottesville, at the White House in Washington, U.S. August 14, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump delivers a statement on the deadly protests in Charlottesville, at the White House in Washington, U.S. August 14, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Rescue workers assist people who were injured when a car drove through a group of counter protestors at the "Unite the Right" rally Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Heather Heyer died after a car rammed into a group of counter-protesters at a white nationalist march in Charlottesville, Virginia. Pic: GoFundMe
An injured woman is helped after a car ran into protesters after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville. Photo: AP
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

President Donald Trump has again waded into the row over the race-fuelled clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, insisting there was "blame on both sides".

As protesters greeted Mr Trump's return to New York on Monday, the president spoke out about the weekend clashes saying the groups protesting against white supremacists - who he called "alt-left" - were "also very violent".

After his initial statement on the deadly violence, Mr Trump was criticised for appearing to condemn both the white nationalists and those who were protesting them.

He said some of the facts about the events in Charlottesville still weren't known.

Heather Heyer died after a car rammed into a group of counter-protesters at a white nationalist march in Charlottesville, Virginia. Pic: GoFundMe
Heather Heyer died after a car rammed into a group of counter-protesters at a white nationalist march in Charlottesville, Virginia. Pic: GoFundMe

Protesters on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue had tried to spoil Mr Trump's homecoming with signs bearing messages such as "stop the hate, stop the lies" and chanting "shame, shame, shame" and "not my president".

After two days of public equivocation and internal White House debate, the president condemned white supremacist groups by name on Monday, declaring "racism is evil".

James Alex Fields Jr., 20, is seen in a mugshot released by Charlottesville, Virginia police department Photo: Charlottesville Police Department/Handout via REUTERS
James Alex Fields Jr., 20, is seen in a mugshot released by Charlottesville, Virginia police department Photo: Charlottesville Police Department/Handout via REUTERS

In a hastily arranged statement at the White House, Mr Trump branded members of the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists who take part in violence as "criminals and thugs".

The groups are "repugnant to everything that we hold dear as Americans", he said.

The move did not quiet the uproar, however. The leaders of four minority House caucus groups wrote a letter to Mr Trump calling for the removal of White House staff aides Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller and Sebastian Gorka.

The heads of the black, Hispanic, Asian and progressive caucuses called in the letter for the Trump administration officials to be fired in the wake of the racist rally.

Rescue workers assist people who were injured when a car drove through a group of counter protestors at the
Rescue workers assist people who were injured when a car drove through a group of counter protestors at the "Unite the Right" rally Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

The letter asserts their continuing presence in the White House is emboldening a resurgent white supremacist movement in America.

This came a day after Anthony Scaramucci, who was fired as White House communications director after a less than two weeks, called for Mr Bannon to go.

In his initial remarks on the violence on Saturday, Mr Trump did not single out the groups and instead bemoaned violence on "many sides".

Those remarks prompted stern criticism from fellow Republicans as well as Democrats, who urged him to seize the moral authority of his office to condemn hate groups.

Mr Trump's softer statement on Saturday had come as graphic images of a car ploughing into a crowd in Charlottesville were playing continually on television.

White nationalists had assembled in the city to protest against plans to take down a statue of Confederate General Robert E Lee, and counter-protesters gathered in opposition.

Fights broke out, and then a car drove into the opponents of the white supremacists. One woman was killed and many more badly hurt. Twenty-year-old James Alex Fields Jr of Ohio is charged with second-degree murder and other counts.

Press Association

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editors Choice

Also in World News